Nick Counter, who served as president of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers for 27 years and negotiated nearly 400 labor contracts with broadcast and film actors, directors, technicians and musicians, died Friday night at a hospital in the West Hills area of Los Angeles at age 69. His family did not disclose the cause of death. During his tenure, Counter, a tough negotiator and a controversial figure, had only twice failed to avert a strike -- in 1988 and 2008 -- when the industry was rocked by walkouts by the Writers Guild of America. In a terse statement on Saturday, the WGA said, "The Writers Guilds of America, West and East mark the passing of Nick Counter ... and convey their deepest sympathy to his family." In a comment appearing on Nikki Finke's "Dateline Hollywood" blog over the weekend, one writer noted that the WGA saw fit to use the word "mark," not the standard "mourn," in its statement. However, Directors Guild of America leaders Gil Cates and Jay Roth praised Counter for his "resolute sense of fair play and an earnest desire that everyone come out a winner." Similar tributes were voiced by the leaders of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

09/11/2009