Robert De Niro has recommended that actors fully consider the ramifications of striking over a new pay dispute.

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) has recommended that its members strike over a failure to agree a deal on remuneration policies when their work is reused on DVD, mobile phones and online.

While the SAG is in favour of a strike, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) has proposed a deal aimed at avoiding a potential strike this summer.

And speaking as his new film What Just Happened? opened the Karlovy film festival, De Niro has erred on the side of caution in regard to possible industrial action.

"I do not think it is a good time to strike now. The issues could be resolved over the next couple of years (without strike action)," the Goodfellas star explained.

The Oscar-winner compared the SAG's negotiating strategy unfavourably to that of the Directors' Guild of America (DGA), saying the directors' union had "done their homework" to secure a satisfactory settlement.

"I do not think the actors have done that," he told Variety. "I do not know if it is the right time to be doing this at all with the economy the way it is."

George Clooney has become a peacemaker of sorts in the pay dispute, penning a two-pay letter last week to outline the pros and cons of the SAG and AFTRA strategies.

But Clooney's letter, intend to put paid to the 'Jack Nicholson v Tom Hanks' stories that have characterised the negotiations as different Hollywood factions weigh in on the impasse, was followed by an email from Sean Penn to the 44,000 members of the SAG, urging them to reject the AFTRA proposals.

"AFTRA's deal not only falls short of fair compensation and protection for actors but just as significantly reflects corporate appeasement that will have an irreversible negative effect on the integrity of the show and the films we perform in," he wrote.

"They're trying to buy us out, bully us down and, in so doing, they will destroy the very purpose of our work."

The AFTRA proposal is similar to the deal that ended the writer's strike earlier in the year.

Bosses of both unions have made competing appeals to their members to seek better conditions from studios.

But SAG leaders say that defeating the AFTRA deal could help them get a better settlement for all actors under the larger SAG contract.

The Writers' Guild America (WGA) went on strike for three months earlier this year after studio representatives refused to meet writers' demands for extra revenue for the reuse of their work when reproduced in other media.

07/07/2008 08:14:52