US actors unions and the alliance of movie studios and TV networks resumed talks in Los Angeles yesterday afternoon after negotiators took the morning off to rest from a 17-hour negotiating session which finished on Monday at 2.30am.

The two sides returned to the table at 2.30 and while they had hoped to have a resolution and a new actors contract in place before the Fourth Of July holiday today, it was looking unlikely at time of going to press that any announcements would be made.

The mood, however, was a positive one, with speculation that a tentative agreement is imminent. The existing actors contract expired at midnight last Saturday (June 30), although that contract remains in effect until a new one is decided.

Among the issues being hammered out by the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and American Federation Of Radio And Television Artists (AFTRA) on behalf of actors and by the Alliance Of Motion Picture And Television Producers (AMPTP) on behalf of the studios are higher gains for middle-income actors (those who make $30,000 to $70,000 a year) and increased payments to actors for work that appears on domestic cable and foreign TV channels. A 3.5 percent increase in actors' minimum salaries is expected to be one of the new contract's achievements.

Neither side would comment, adhering to a strict news blackout, but all indications are that an actors strike will be avoided, although Hollywood is now in a strange lull. Studios had so dramatically accelerated film production to beat strike deadlines that even if an agreement is reached this week, film production could stay in a lull for some months.