Top Hollywood actors including George Clooney have publicly urged the actors' union to begin contract talks with studios to avert a potential strike.

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) has yet to begin talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) ahead of the June 30th expiry of their current mutual agreements.

And with studios alarmed by SAG's public support for the striking Writers' Guild of America (WGA) during their three-month strike - which concluded this week - some film productions have been delayed until SAG agrees a deal.

In an advert placed in industry paper Daily Variety, Clooney, Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro and Tom Hanks have urged SAG heads to commit to negotiating a new deal as soon as possible, so as to avoid another bout of damaging industrial action.

Speaking at the annual Oscars luncheon last week, Clooney explained that the writers' strike has created "a lot of strike fatigue" in Hollywood.

"I think you actually start losing negotiating power," he added. "I would hope we in the Screen Actors Guild get back to the table."

Commenting yesterday, SAG national director Doug Allen was reticent, saying the union would "bargain with management at a time that will most benefit our members".

He added that SAG would jointly conduct wages and working conditions meetings with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), whose involvement could lead to the type of informal talks that allowed for deals with the WGA and the Directors' Guild of America (DGA), according to the Hollywood Reporter.

14/02/2008 11:16:02