SAG-AFTRA is hosting a webinar at this hour with Hollywood’s talent agents to discuss the industry shutdown and the contractual obligations of employers who declared the coronavirus pandemic a “force majeure” event when they shuttered film and TV productions.
In a message to agents, the union said that it has had “many conversations with its agents regarding how signatory companies may be obligated to pay union performers pursuant to their personal services agreements during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. In the hopes of providing further assistance to you in this regard, the Entertainment Contracts staff would like to host a webinar with its agents so they can better understand what actions SAG-AFTRA has taken thus far to protect the interests of its performers (and their representatives) during this uncertain time. Staff will review the positions taken by signatory companies (including claims of a purported ‘hiatus’), the myriad of payment arrangements the union has already negotiated, and what the future likely holds.”
Karen Stuart, executive director of the Association of Talent Agents, told her members that the ATA “has been in regular contact with all of our industry partners as we strive to keep ATA members informed. To this end, SAG-AFTRA has agreed to present a webinar to our members focusing on TV/film postponements related to COVID.”
Last month, SAG-AFTRA told its members that “producers who shut down production may declare a Force Majeure, which gives production and, in some cases, performers, the right to postpone or terminate an engagement. While a pandemic like COVID-19 can serve as the triggering event for a Force Majeure, whether it qualifies in a particular case requires individual analysis. Performers may be entitled to pay, including partial salary during a postponement, and may be obligated to render services upon the conclusion of a postponement. Determining a performer’s rights and obligations in the event of a Force Majeure is a complex exercise that depends on a number of factors.”