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SAG PACT WILL GIVE CABLE VOICE ACTORS HIKE.

Byline: Greg Hernandez Staff Writer

Actors who perform in such basic-cable animated programs as "SpongeBob SquarePants" and "The Boondocks" will receive a 20 percent increase in residuals under the terms of a tentative contract agreement reached Tuesday between negotiators for the Screen Actors Guild and producers of those and other shows.

The contract, if ratified, would mark the first improvement in the residuals formula for these performers since 1990. The 20 percent figure is based on the initial run of a program followed by an average of 25 reruns.

SAG President Alan Rosenberg said an "important victory" was achieved because the guild stood together as a united group of actors during negotiations with major producers including Walt Disney Pictures and Television, Warner Bros. and Cartoon Network.

"The performers who work under these contracts have waited a long time for these well-deserved gains, particularly in the area of residuals," Rosenberg said in a statement Tuesday. "... We were able to improve this contract, which affects mainly working-day performers, for the first time in almost two decades."

SAG's national board will vote on ratification at its April 21-22 meeting. If passed, the new contract would be retroactive to Jan. 1 and run through June 30, 2008.

The deal could potentially result in more covered work for SAG members because of a new understanding that all animated productions produced for basic cable would be covered by the contract. Previous industry practice relied on contracts for single productions.

The new residuals formula for shows made directly for basic cable would jump from 12 percent to 17 percent of a voice performer's minimum, which is currently $716 for a four-hour session.

The residual pay would go down to 1.5 percent of that minimum for the 13th airing and each airing after that, but the payout could be considerable for performers since episodes of the more popular animated programs on basic cable can run 100 times or more in a single year.

Loren Lester, who chaired the committee that began negotiating with producers in January, called the proposed deal a "significant win" for the actors who do voice-over work.

"We were successful because we possessed a strong negotiating team comprised of an activist committee of working actors," said Lester, who also cited supported guild leadership and SAG's professional staff that included chief negotiator Sallie Weaver.

Weaver said Tuesday that the deal comes at a critical time with cable being such a burgeoning industry.

The agreement for basic-cable animated performers comes just a day after it was announced that SAG members have overwhelmingly authorized union leaders to call a strike, if necessary, in its continuing negotiations with producers of live-action basic cable shows including "Monk," "The Shield" and "The Closer."

Voting took place last week during SAG caucuses held in San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, New York and Hollywood.

"Member turnout was tremendous," Rosenberg said in a statement this week. "An inspiring range of actors - from high-profile performers who star on their own shows to rank-and-file members who struggle to qualify for health insurance - stood side by side in solidarity."

SAG leaders have vowed to play hardball in their bargaining of the basic-cable contract, which they believe is inadequate considering the growth of cable and the fact that the current wages have been in effect for 16 years.

Under the existing contract, which expired Feb. 28, actors are paid 12 percent of the minimum pay for the first repeat of a show with the figure going down to 1 percent for the 13th rerun and any repeats thereafter.

The producers are currently offering 17 percent for the first repeat showing down to 1.5 percent for the 13th and all subsequent reruns.

"We will continue to fight for a fair contract," Rosenberg stated. "And, as is always the case, we hope to avoid any work interruption in pursuit of that equitable deal."

Negotiations on the live-action basic-cable contract resumed Tuesday.

greg.hernandez(at)dailynews.com

(818) 713-3758
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 29, 2006
Words:659
Previous Article:LAG SEEN IN '06, '07 ECONOMY.
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