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    SAG Ready to Sit Down

    SAG wants this in the bag as soon as possible.  

    Looking to avoid a repeat of the horror show Hollywood had to sit through during the writers' strike, the Screen Actors Guild and the major studios plan to begin formal contract negotiations April 15, the actors' union announced Tuesday evening. 

    Like the Directors Guild, which has already agreed to a new three-year deal, the actors' current contract expires June 30—and it would behoove all involved to get to the table with members of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers as far in advance as possible. 

    "Now that we have concluded our Wages and Working Conditions process and the SAG National Board has approved our proposal package, we look forward to productive negotiations," SAG national executive director and chief negotiator Doug Allen said in a statement. 

    A union rep said that would be SAG's last comment for awhile. The AMPTP had no comment on the development. 

    The announcement comes three days after the other major actors' union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, announced it would negotiate separately from SAG, with which it shares more than half its 70,000 members. 

    SAG originally objected to launching talks in March, but perhaps the AFTRA split spurred what is arguably the mightiest union in showbiz (or at least the one that could really bring down the industry if it decided to strike) to get moving, seeing as its interests include all film work and most TV projects. 

    In February, the Oscar-winning foursome of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro and Tom Hanks took out full-page advertisements in Variety and the Hollywood Reporter to press the once-warring sides (SAG staunchly sided with the Writers Guild of America during the strike) to start talking, urging their fellow actors to take heed of lessons learned. 

    "As proud members of SAG, we have seen the effect of a long-running strike on our community," the ad read. "Now that the writers have agreed to a deal, our hope is to get people back to work." 

    The 100-day writers' strike ended Feb. 12, when WGA members approved the terms of the deal painstakingly hammered out by its top negotiators and high-powered studio honchos such as Disney chief executive Robert Iger, who stepped up after the AMPTP kept striking out with the guild. 

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