SAGpocalypse Now: All Hope is Lost

Let's hope James Cameron's Thespbot 2000 technology works, because from the looks of how things are progressing on the SAG deal front, the sun could be setting on the Age of the Human Hollywood Actor.

The last we left the sprawling space opera that is SAG Wars, rebel leader Doug Allen had been overthrown by his own men, replaced by senior adviser John McGuire as chief negotiator. Saddest SAG Prez in the Universe Alan Rosenberg then mounted an unsuccessful legal bid to prevent the moderate mutineers from resuming talks with the evil producing overlords of the AMPTP. Over Justine Bateman's tweeted objections, new talks were set for this week. They were supposed to settle everything.

They settled nothing.

[T]he majors and the Screen Actors Guild broke off three days of talks late Thursday with the congloms issuing a take-it-or-leave-it "last, best and final" offer.

The talks fell apart over SAG's insistence that a new feature-primetime deal had to expire on June 30, 2011 - meaning that the deal would last only two years and three months.

For its part, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers insisted that the new deal has to last a full three years. And the congloms also announced their new offer could be withdrawn in 60 days.

The deal fell apart over a matter of nine months, or the difference between beginning the contract when the last one expired (what the actors want), or starting it from right now (what the producers want). SAG's concern is that the new expiration date will put them too far away from the expiration of the new WGA and DGA contracts in 2012, which could weaken them strategically come time to negotiate again. The producers wouldn't budge, but offered to begin negotiations for their next contract (ooh fun! More negotiations!) early enough to get them back in sync with the other unions. SAG has two months to accept the offer, which seems to us a ridiculous long window, during which continued internecine fighting could reduce their membership to a bloody pile of random limbs. Perhaps that's the idea.

As always, the winner here is AFTRA, who are dominating 50 of the 70-plus broadcast pilots ordered this season—a shift that pushes the industry further into the realm of digital production. (AFTRA contracts specify actors cannot perform on film.) Warm up the Thesbot. The end is nigh.