SAG-studios close to a new contract?

Hollywood, and every state with a stake in filmmaking, is hopeful that the SAG negotiating task force update meeting Tuesday with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP) means a new feature-primetime contract is settled, after nine months of stalled negotiations.

The meeting indicates that recent back-channel talks could have led to a mutually acceptable compromise.

SAG chief negotiator John McGuire, who just negotiated a new commercials contract for SAG members, is expected to present the outlines of an agreement to the guild’s negotiating task force Tuesday.

This could set the stage for the return of formal negotiations with AMPTP, which bargains on behalf of the studios.

Only a month ago, as the economy worsened and more entertainment industry workers found themselves jobless as the studios made cutbacks, many in Hollywood despaired that the two sides would ever be able to resolve their differences, according to the L.A. Times.

When SAG’s feature-primetime contract expired June 30, it spurned the AMPTP’s offer, estimated as being worth an additional $250 million in pay over three years.

Since then, SAG members have worked under terms and conditions of the expired contract.

SAG’s interim executive director, David White, and a group of top entertainment executives are “very close” to resolving most of the remaining sticking points that caused negotiations to break off Feb. 19, said people familiar with the situation.

The expiration date of a new contract is said to be the most contentious issue.

SAG leaders insisted that their new contract run through June 2011 so that the union could line up its next round of negotiations with the expiring contracts of other Hollywood talent unions.

The studios, however, wanted a three-year term, which would push SAG’s contract expiration into 2012.

The union’s national board could vote on a final contract when it meets April 18.