Crisis Averted (Sort Of) As AFTRA Reaches Deal with Studios

Happy news emerged this morning from the deep, dank reaches of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers headquarters, where it was announced the major studios have come to last-minute terms with AFTRA on a new three-year contract. Conveniently or not, the report comes a few hours before AFTRA's former negotiating partners in the Screen Actors Guild were set to resume their own talks with the majors. And with AFTRA reportedly agreeing to conditions on new-media residuals similar to those accepted by the DGA and WGA during the latter union's strike, SAG has until June 30 to determine if the terms are good enough for itself — or detonate! The! Industry! with another labor stoppage.

The AMPTP apparently relented on the issue of establishing an online clip library, which, as of last weekend, remained one of the negotiations' primary sticking points. AFTRA's members (who still need to ratify the contract) will retain consent over the usage of their work on the Web, though Variety reports that the new deal "calls for [AFTRA] and the companies to 'develop a mechanism' by which performers can provide or withhold consent for non-promotional use of clips from TV libraries."

AFTRA currently represents about a dozen prime-time shows including Curb Your Enthusiasm and 'Til Death, but that number could climb if SAG takes to the picket line this summer. And it's certainly possible: When SAG's previous negotiations broke down earlier this month, leaders cried they were within a few hours of a deal. That was later discovered to be untrue. Listen for more saber-rattling as the parties reconvene in the month ahead.