Variety reminds us today that a major! labor! crisis! remains in effect at the Screen Actors Guild, which after three months has still made exactly no progress in settling its contract quibbles with the networks and major studios. Still, if those producers aren't worried, then you shouldn't be either — especially now that AFTRA is reportedly taking over where SAG can't necessarily be counted on. To wit, after securing its own three-year deal with the majors over the summer, the union has nabbed some high-profile new recruits for the primetime season to come.
Among the recent shows that have gone with AFTRA are the CW's 90210 and Reaper; CBS's new sitcom Gary Unmarried; and two shows just picked up to series at ABC: comedy Better Off Ted and hourlong The Unusuals. ABC's recently wrapped drama pilot Prince of Motor City is also AFTRA. ... If SAG called a strike, even a dual SAG-AFTRA member would be obligated to continue working if under contract to an AFTRA-covered show. Beyond the short-term strike threat, studio brass say they've generally grown wary of SAG and its recent management turmoil and bitter factional fighting.
The AFTRA alliance is technically more expensive for the producers, who are buying into the Web/video residuals established as part of the new contract; SAG's expired terms still apply until a new deal is ratified. But SAG higher-ups couldn't care less anyway, with one exec noting that 95% of primetime (including anything shot on film) belongs to SAG; that's just what "people are comfortable working with." But really, AFTRA is nothing — wait until these guys face the mounting Craigslist lobby gaining traction at MTV. Now those guys are hungry.