Broadway strike talks fail, shows off a second week

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NEW YORK, Nov 20 (Reuters) Most of Broadway's theaters will remain dark for a second week after weekend talks between owners and producers and striking stagehands broke down, theater producers said.

Some 25 Broadway shows have been canceled, including profitable productions like ''Chicago,'' ''The Phantom of the Opera,'' ''Wicked'' and ''Hairspray'' since the stagehands, working without a contract since July, went on strike on November 10.

The League of American Theaters and Producers said the strike is costing about 17 million dollars for every day it lasts.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has called on both sides to resolve their differences, saying that the economic impact of the strike is felt far beyond the closed theaters. Broadway shows are a major tourist attraction, bringing hundreds of millions of dollars into the city.

''Out of respect for our public and our loyal theatergoers, many of whom are traveling from around the world, we regret that we must cancel performances through Sunday November 25,'' Charlotte St.

Martin, executive director of the theater league said in a statement late on Sunday.

The walkout follows three months of negotiations which bogged down over a new set of work rules for stagehands and the specific duties they perform. Producers have complained that they now have to pay for long stretches of idle time.

''The union rejected our effort to compromise and continues to require us to hire more people than we need,'' St Martin said.

But the Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees said in a statement that ''just before the talks broke off, the producers informed Local One that what Local One had offered was simply not enough. The producers then walked out.'' Off-Broadway theaters, nonprofit theaters on Broadway and a handful of major productions with separate contracts, including ''Mary Poppins'' and ''Young Frankenstein,'' are not affected by the strike.

The last strike to hit Broadway was in 2003 when musicians walked out for four days. Before that it had been nearly two decades since Broadway was affected by a labor dispute.

Reuters ARB DB0920

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