LOS ANGELES — The bitter weekend split between two actors unions over upcoming contract talks with Hollywood producers not only mirrors a scene from a daytime soap opera, it casts soap stars in pivotal roles.
The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists have long sniped at each other over who better represents 44,000 actors who are members of both groups.
At the heart of the rift are upcoming contract talks with producers similar to the ones that led to the recent three-month writers strike. For 27 years, SAG, representing 120,000 members, and AFTRA, representing 70,000, negotiated together. But the strike has injected new urgency into reaching an agreement.
The last straw, said AFTRA president Roberta Reardon, was SAG's "relentless campaign of disinformation and disparagement" aimed at enticing actors in the soap The Bold and The Beautiful to abandon the federation.
Reardon said in a statement Saturday that AFTRA, which represents mostly broadcast performers, was finished "wasting time assessing whether our partner is being honest with us."
SAG president Alan Rosenberg responded Sunday that his larger union, which represents film and prime time TV talent, had "no desire" to woo away soap actors when Bold stars Susan Flannery and John McCook invited him and other executives to a lunch meeting a month ago.
Also Sunday, SAG's board of directors unanimously approved a bargaining-proposal package that negotiators will use in talks with producers.
The negotiations with major studios and TV networks will be over working conditions on feature films and prime time TV series. The current three-year contract expires June 30.