June 22, 2005
Divided Hollywood Actors Reject Video Game Deal
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -- Hollywood's bitterly divided actors union, the Screen Actors Guild, rejected on Tuesday a recently negotiated contract with the video game industry.
But the vote was unlikely to have any effect since most games are produced with non-union talent.In addition, the three-year contract has already been approved by the smaller American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, or AFTRA, which negotiated the deal jointly with the actors guild.
Many actors who do voice-over work in games belong to both unions, and will therefore be covered by AFTRA. All pension and health contributions will go to that union and not to the Screen Actors Guild, or SAG.
SAG's national executive committee voted by a narrow margin to reject the contract, which had already been recommended by the negotiating committee and SAG staffers.
It marked the latest rift between two rival factions, one led by SAG President Melissa Gilbert of "Little House on the Prairie" fame, and another one whose members include Valerie Harper ("Rhoda") and Elliott Gould ("Ocean's Twelve").
The latter group has already successfully opposed such plans as a merger with AFTRA, a new oversight deal with talent agents and a dues increase.
The deal offered by leading gaming companies including Electronic Arts Inc. and Activision Inc. offered to boost wages for voice-over and other performers by 36 percent over the life of the contract. However, the unions were unable to obtain residuals, or a share in the revenues generated by the video games they perform in.
Hollywood's actors, along with unions representing writers and directors, have all recently been forced to accept new contracts denying them a bigger share of profits from the hugely lucrative DVD market.