NEW YORK – Whatever the outcome of the ongoing dispute between Broadway producers and the actors' union, at least one show will survive.
Producers of "The Boy From Oz," (search) the hit musical starring Hugh Jackman (search) as Australian entertainer Peter Allen, have agreed to a temporary contract with Actors' Equity that will allow the show to remain open even if the union declares a strike, The New York Times reported Monday.
Union leaders were to meet Monday to decide what to do next in their lengthy negotiations with Broadway producers.
The "Oz" deal is part of a strategy by Equity to negotiate with individual shows instead of the League of American Theaters and Producers, according to the Times.
Alan Eisenberg, Equity's executive director, told the Times the agreement was similar to a proposal the union made to the League on Friday. That proposal was later rejected.
"We were basically trying to get out there with our last proposal," Eisenberg told the paper.
Adrian Bryan-Brown, a spokesman for "Oz," confirmed the deal.
Despite the "Oz" agreement, the League said it remained committed to reaching an all-encompassing deal with the union.
"We want to reiterate that this has to be settled at the table," Jed Bernstein, a League spokesman, told the Times. "We are ready to talk and make a deal. We owe it to the industry and we owe it to New York."
Bernstein said producers of all Broadway shows except "Oz" met Sunday to sign a "document of interdependence," vowing not to reach individual deals with the union.
Among options union leaders could consider Monday is a strike, which would shut down most Broadway plays and musicals as well as major productions on the road. Shows have continued to run throughout the negotiations.
Equity has been particularly upset by nonunion tours, which have increased over the past several years.
The union's contract with the League expired June 27, and the two sides have met since then to resolve not only the issue of nonunion tours but also questions about soaring health care costs and worker safety. Tentative agreements have been reached on the last two items, League president Jed Bernstein said Sunday.
The League has offered to table discussion of nonunion tours until later, an idea rejected by Equity.
"Separating the issues is not a wise decision," union president Patrick Quinn told The Associated Press Sunday. "It's up to them (the producers) to face the fact that we have to stop trying to balance the books on the backs of the actors."
In March 2003, more than a dozen Broadway musicals shut down for four days after the musicians' union walked out, resulting in lost theater revenue of more than $5 million.