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Producer-Actor's Union Negotiations Continue on Broadway

Although the deadline has passed, negotiations on a new contract between the actors' union and Broadway theater producers are continuing, both sides said Monday.

The contract between Actors' Equity Association and the Broadway League, which represents both producers and theater owners, expired at midnight Sunday.

"The talks remain productive and both parties are confident a fair and equitable contract will be reached," both sides said in a joint statement, while declining to talk about specific issues. The contract covers not only Broadway but touring productions as well.

Neither side wants a repeat of last November's stagehands strike, a walkout that kept more than two dozen Broadway shows dark for 19 days and cost producers and the city millions of dollars in lost revenue.

Besides such standard topics as pension and health care benefits, one subject sure to be discussed is the experimental touring program started after the last contract talks in 2004. It allows for different levels of pay for different kinds of tours.

At the top of the pay scale are such smash hits as "Wicked" and "Jersey Boys" that can sit down in cities for weeks and even months at a time. Other, lesser-known and thus more financially risky shows that usually play weekly stands, have a lower pay scale. Adjustments most likely will be made.

The question of safety most likely will come up, too, what with larger, more elaborate settings that often use, among other things, raked stages, elevators, flying, trap doors and pyrotechnics.

Then there is the question of what some call "product development" -- loosening restrictions on, as well as compensation for, actors appearing in workshops of shows that go on to actual productions. Also to be addressed is the topic of "new media," using scenes and performers from shows on the Internet to promote productions.