The deadline came at midnight on Saturday (June 30) but negotiators for the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation Of Radio And Television Artists (AFTRA) returned to the table on Sunday morning (July 1) to continue discussions with the Alliance Of Motion Picture And Television Producers (AMTP) - signalling that a crippling actors strike so long anticipated will almost certainly be avoided.

"The parties agreed that the remaining issues would be better addressed beginning in the morning," said a SAG statement issued late Saturday. That means that the current actors contract has been extended to cover the extended negotiations, although most Hollywood studios, independents and TV production companies had scheduled current production to stop last Friday. The industry now lies in an unusually dormant state awaiting resolution of the new contract; even if the strike is averted this week, new shooting won't begin for at least the two months it traditionally takes for pre-production.

Press and TV crews had gathered around AMPTP headquarters on Saturday night, but no dramatic decisions were announced and spirits of the negotiators appeared optimistic. and Screen International will provide continued coverage of any announcements from SAG/AFTRA and AMPTP this week.