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SAG-AFTRA Approves Deal Allowing Actors to Appear on Multiple Shows

Courtesy of SAG-AFTRA

You might start seeing a lot more of your favorite TV actors, as their union approved a deal on Saturday allowing them to appear in multiple shows at the same time.

SAG-AFTRA has been lobbying for a decade to curtail so-called “exclusivity” agreements, which block TV series regulars from taking other jobs while they are on hiatus.

In the agreement approved by the union’s national board, producers will be required to give TV actors a three-month window after each season in which they can take any job they want. That means that stars of shows may start appearing more often as guest stars — or even as regulars — on shows on other platforms and networks. The new agreement will apply to work under contracts entered into on or after Jan. 1.

The agreement also includes a limitation on the reasons a producer may stop a series regular from accepting an appearance on another program.

SAG-AFTRA explained the financial component as following: “An increase in the exclusivity money breaks from $15,000 per week or per episode for half-hour programs and $20,000 per week or per episode for one hour or longer programs to $65,000 per week or per episode for half-hour programs and $70,000 per week or per hour for one hour or longer programs.”

The deal came about after the union forced the issue, with a bill in Sacramento that would have essentially eliminated exclusivity provisions outright. That bill, AB 437, appeared on its way to passage in the Legislature, prompting the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers — which bargains on behalf of the studios — to seek a negotiated solution.

The bill will now be withdrawn.

The Motion Picture Association had opposed the legislation, which it argued would make it harder to coordinate schedules and might lead to fewer TV shows being renewed for multiple seasons.

The union has argued that in the current TV environment — with a profusion of shows and platforms — exclusivity is far less important than it was in the days of three broadcast networks.

Earlier this month, SAG-AFTRA made a similar deal with Netflix. That agreement also creates a mandatory three-month conflict-free window and places limits for option periods. The actors’ union has also complained that actors can be left in limbo for months or years while a networks decides whether or not to renew a show. The Netflix deal limits those option periods to 18 months after the beginning of principal photography on a season. It also institutes a requirement that shooting starts within two months after the option is exercised.

The deal with the AMPTP does not address option periods, though that could be addressed when the contract comes up for bargaining next year.

Variety's Gene Maddaus contributed to this post.

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