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What if ACTRA strikes?????



Over on the Slipstream, the Andromeda fan website, there is a story about a possible strike. Any of you cast and crew members want to comment on this story?

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR>The contract between the Alliance of
Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio
Artists (ACTRA) and studios is set to
expire in January 2002, not only
precipitating a potential strike threat
but also a withdrawal of Hollywood
support for Canadian productions.

Despite the fact that in sixty years of
negotiations ACTRA has never called a
strike, U.S. studios are attempting to
pre-empt any breakdown in negotiations
by shutting down many productions to
be shot in Canada, the Montreal
Gazette reported. The studios are
apparently wary because of the recent
strike threat by actors and writers in
the U.S.

Although the current contract will not
elapse until January 16 next year,
ACTRA is already preparing for the
upcoming negotiations, according to the
union's web site. Last month, the
alliance began collecting information
from its 18,000 members and will meet
with the producers' associations in two
months time to exchange proposals.

Issues up for discussion include Internet
royalties, increasing the number of
Canadian actors in U.S. productions,
and a rise in the basic daily wage for
actors. Currently, a Canadian 'principal
performer' (6 lines or more), earns $510
Canadian dollars per day, while their
counterparts across the border receive
the equivalent of $950.

Canadian industry leaders have
responded swiftly to the move by U.S.
producers to pull productions out of
Canada. "This pre-emptive move by the
Hollywood studios to set their own
strike deadline months before contract
negotiations even begin, will foster
instability within the Canadian
entertainment industry," said Stephen
Waddell, ACTRA's National Executive
Director. "It is as important to ACTRA
members as it is to producers that there
be a smooth and structured process
leading up to, and during collective
bargaining negotiations."

Waddell highlighted the unfairness of
this move by Hollywood studios. "No one
at ACTRA wants a strike and there
won't be one, provided the producers
are willing to negotiate a fair and
equitable settlement," he said. "The
U.S. producers assert that the mere
possibility of a performers' strike is
forcing them to reconsider the
investment of hundreds of millions of
dollars in the Canadian economy."

In order to halt this withdrawal, ACTRA
has said that it is willing to offer
contracts with Hollywood studios on a
production-by-production basis, thus
ensuring that some U.S. shoots would
continue unimpeded if an industry-wide
strike was called.

According to the IMDB, 20th Century
Fox has withdrawn the film 'Daredevil'
from Canada, and an $80 million
production of Stephen King's
'Dreamcatcher,' originally set to shoot in
January, may also be pulled. Gene
Roddenberry's Andromeda isn't likely to
be affected like these productions as all
of season two will have been filmed by

This move by the studios comes at the
same time as an attempt by the Screen
Actors Guild (SAG) to block studios that
relocate their films overseas. These
so-called 'runaway' productions choose
countries such as Canada or Australia
for their shoots because of the lower
production costs. Andromeda is part of
this group, produced by the American
Tribune company, but shot in

The guild voted to endorse a
countervailing tariff scheme against
producers who shoot in foreign
countries, according to Variety. Under
the terms of this plan, any studio that
makes use of foreign production
subsidies will have to pay a tariff of the
same amount before the production can
be distributed in the U.S. Coupled with
the strike action, this could have
dramatic ramifications for Canadian

Any upheaval in the Canadian
entertainment industry would have the
potential to affect Andromeda. In
addition, five out of the seven principal
actors are Canadian, so any ACTRA
strike could cripple production on the
series. However, there is currently no
filming planned for January, so in the
event of a strike, there would be a
window of several months in which the
series would no be affected.

Further details on the ACTRA strike
threat can be found at the alliance's
web site or in this Montreal Gazette
here. More information on the SAG tariff
situation is available in this
Reuters/Variety report.

Peace, Love and Rock & Roll,

(Starriders clan)
Yes, the possible strike is affecting projects across Canada. For one movie, it was scheduled to be shot in Toronto but moved to Vancouver. There was some different factor that would allow the movie to continue in Vancouver. Not sure of all the details.


Sandra Bruckner
ISN News: The Zocalo Today (www.isnnews.net)
Vancouver is apparently governed by an affiliated union or by a semi-independant branch of ACTRA. So there is a separate contract in effect there, which doesn't expire until March. With any luck ACTRA will strike a deal before the January deadline for the rest of the country, and the Vancouver group can just rubber-stamp it.

Even if ACTRA strikes in January it is unlikely to have an impact on a Rangers series unless the strike lasts into March. Not only does the Vancouver contract run that long, but the series almost certainly can't start shooting any earlier than that anyway.

JMS starts production on Jeremiah this week, and a glance at the calendar will tell you that shooting will extend into February even if there is no strike. The first season of any show requires the most day-to-day attention from the creator/executive producer, so even JMS would likely find it difficult to ramp-up Rangers while racing to finish Jeremiah. This would be the case if Sci-Fi gave the series the go-ahead tomorrow or in January.

So unless there is a long strike, or Vancouver does not accept whatever deal the ACTRA national board negotiates, I don't think the potential Rangers series will be affected.



Joseph DeMartino
Sigh Corps
Pat Tallman Division

This might be a good time to mention something I heard on an interview show a bit ago. I admit I'm fuzzy on the details, because I was kind of going in and out of the room at the time, but I THINK this is it.

Someone running for a lead position in the USA's actor's union is talking very seriously about the "American jobs lost to Canada" thing. I am familiar with the concern over "American jobs lost to Mexico" but this was the first I'd ever heard about USA productions being frequently done in Canada.

I remember earlier posts on this board that Canada has a rule that only a certain amount of "non-Canadian" productions can be aired in Canada. It is a protection of thier market, to guarantee that Canadian projects will have a chance to air in Canada.

Just thought I'd throw this in, since apparantly it is becoming a growing concern to the USA actor's union. It is kind of interesting that most (or is it all) of the Ranger's cast are from Canada.

"I do not believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense,
reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."-- Galileo
The phenomenon is called "runaway production" and it is causing quite a rift between SAG and ACTRA. Canada is one of several countries that offers tax breaks and other incentives to attract international productions, especially those from the U.S. Producers love Cananda because cities like Toronto and Vancouver can easily double for many U.S. cities, including New York, Washington and Boston. Add some stock or new footage of the actual cities for long shots and you can shoot all your downtown stuff there without anyone being the wiser.

Many American films and TV series have shot there. The X-Files was based in Vancouver for the first five or six years. (The production was forced back to Los Angeles as part of David Ducovney's deal to remain with the show. He hated being away from his wife for months at a time. Having seen Tea Leoni, I can't say I blame him.

Melissa Gilbert is making "runaway productions" one of the major issues in her campaign for the Presidency of SAG, and wants to lobby Congress for protective tariffs to off-set the tax-breaks offered by other countries. Of course, it is one thing to lobby for such tariffs, quite another to get them, especially in the age of NAFTA.



Joseph DeMartino
Sigh Corps
Pat Tallman Division

Update August 27, 2001

Daily Variety is reporting this morning that ACTRA has made an agreement not to strike against any productions that start filming before its January 16th contract expiration. The move is designed to placate nervous foreign producers, especially, who are known to be scouting alternate locations rather than risk being shut-down in mid-shooting on very expensive films. Losing these productions would cost the Canandian economy tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars.

In a semi-related story, Melissa Gilbert, U.S. Screen Actors Guild Presidential candidate and foe of "runaway productions", picked up two more important endorsements: former SAG Presidents Patty Duke and William Schallert. (Who, oddly enough, played daughter and father on The Patty Duke Show.

Gilbert's main rival for the post, Valerie Harper (Rhoda, The Mary Tyler Moore Show) is supported by out-going SAG President William Daniels (St. Elsewhere, Boy Meets World, 1776), who chose not to run for another term, and former SAG prez Charlton Heston.

Among others who have officially endorsed Gilbert are some names that should be familiar to B5 fans: Bruce Boxleitner, Jerry Doyle, Marshall Teague, and Beth Toussaint. She also has the support of some better-known names: Kirk Douglas, Teri Garr, Rob Lowe, Tobey Maguire, Debra Messing, Ryan O'Neil, Victoria Principal, Loretta Swit, and Elizabeth Taylor. Finally it seems that every current and former child star in the industry who still has a SAG card is in Gilbert's camp, with Patty Duke herself at the top of the list.



Joseph DeMartino
Sigh Corps
Pat Tallman Division

Wow, loads of great info, everyone. Joe, I take that last notice to mean that Actra has not said it won't strike to get it's needs met, but that it just won't strike against any project that goes into filming before the Jan. 16 contract expiration? That does sound quite reassuring to big productions, but doesn't that weaken their stance in negotiations if they still have a bunch of people working? Just wondering.

On a little side note, anyone got the contact info for any Magic Shops in Vancouver? I'm going up there in Mid-September and that is one thing I'd like to locate, magic shops, the kind with card tricks, rings, stage magic. Any help would be great.

Peace, Love and Rock & Roll,

(Starriders clan)
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Joseph DeMartino:

Melissa Gilbert is making "runaway productions" one of the major issues in her campaign for the Presidency of SAG, and wants to lobby Congress for protective tariffs to off-set the tax-breaks offered by other countries. Of course, it is one thing to lobby for such tariffs, quite another to get them, especially in the age of NAFTA.




You might well think such tariffs would be hard to get but it seems protectionism is alive and well and supported by Congress. Here in BC, 10's of thousands of people are losing their jobs in the softwood lumber industry becase Congress decided to slap a 19% duty on our wood. This will increase the cost to US home builders and to consumers in the US home buying market. There are no sources of equavalent softwood in the US but the duty has been applied anyway.

Interestingly, this has happened 3 times in the past and the US has always lost the tariff on appeal.

Now, they want to say we 'subsidise' our Movie and TV industy. We don't like this much here in BC and many say gee you know what, California is gonna need lots of our energy in the future,and geeee they still owe us money from earlier this year when some power resellers in the states went bankrupt. Let's withhold our energy until they remove the softwood duty. OH and then pay us what you owe us for the energy you got from us and then come talk to us about the TV and Film industry in BC...

End of political rant...

The avalance has already started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote.
Lets have a tariff war. Simply match the US tax rate. Taking into account the size of Hollywood's exports, Britain and Canada should get about 10 times as much money.

Andrew Swallow