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31-05-01 news
Irish actors may be next to Strike...

The cream of British acting talent, such as Alan Rickman, is threatening to bring the UK film industry to a halt in a dispute over pay, it was disclosed last night and Ireland may just be next. More than 200 leading performers have signed up to a campaign calling for a bigger share of the proceeds from films for British actors.

They include Alan Rickman, Julie Walters, Paul Scofield, Kathy Burke, Greta Scacchi, John Thaw, Peter Postlethwaite, Simon Callow and Frances de la Tour.

The actors' union, Equity, is calling for the re-negotiation of the cinema films agreement. Under the agreement, in the UK, actors are paid a flat fee in advance for television broadcasts of films, video and DVD sales as well as merchandising.

But they get nothing extra, unlike their US colleagues, who benefit every time a film is shown on television, sold on video or DVD, or merchandising connected with the film is sold.

The union has highlighted the film Mission Impossible, starring Tom Cruise, as an example of the difficulties facing UK actors. To date 1.8 million US dollars (about 1.2 million) has been distributed to US actors as a result of the success of the film but not one penny has been paid to the British performers who worked alongside them, the union has claimed.

Talks were due to be held on Friday between Equity and Pact, the film producers' organisation.

Martin Brown, spokesman for Equity, said if the talks failed, the union could propose action in which UK actors refused new contracts. "We understand that the British industry is not Hollywood and we know that there are difficulties in financing films. We are happy to take all that on board," he said.

"We are not saying the American system or nothing. What we are asking for is an acceptance of the principle of continuing payments linked to the use. Once they have accepted that we can talk about the mechanism."

The Irish actors Union have still not threatened a strike but it still may be on the cards as more and more US blockbusters are made here using the wealth of Irish talent.

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