SAG-AFTRA says Hollywood actors likely to strike as contract talks fail

SAG-AFTRA says Hollywood actors likely to strike as contract talks fail

Hollywood’s first industrywide shutdown in 63 years is almost certain, with the union representing 160,000 television and film actors set to call a strike as soon as Thursday and join screenwriters who walked off the job in May .

SAG-AFTRA, as the union is known, said at about 1 a.m. Pacific Time on Thursday that talks with the Hollywood studios over a new contract had failed and that its negotiating board voted unanimously to recommend a strike. Was. The previous three-year contract expired at 11:59 p.m., after an extension from 30 June to allow negotiations to continue.

The union’s national board was scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. on Pacific Ocean for the final strike vote. The strike may begin later on Thursday.

Fran Drescher, president of SAG-AFTRA, called the studio’s responses at the bargaining table “outrageous and disrespectful”.

“The companies have refused to engage meaningfully on some topics and completely blocked us on others,” Ms. Drescher said in a statement. “Until they negotiate in good faith, we can’t begin to reach an agreement.”

Actors and screenwriters haven’t gone on strike at the same time since 1960, when Marilyn Monroe was still nearing her peak. The double strike will effectively bring the entertainment business to a halt, pitting more than 170,000 workers against old-line studios such as Disney, Universal, Sony and Paramount, as well as tech giants such as Netflix, Amazon and Apple.

“We are deeply disappointed that SAG-AFTRA has decided to walk away from negotiations,” the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which negotiates on behalf of Hollywood companies, said in a statement. “It’s the union’s choice, not ours.”

Although Hollywood had been preparing for a writers’ strike since the beginning of the year—screenwriters have struck eight times in the past seven decades, most recently in 2007—the actors’ uncharacteristic resolve in recent weeks has drawn senior executives and producers bothered the

Many of the actors’ demands mirror those of the writers, including higher salaries, increased residual payments (a type of royalty) from streaming services, and aggressive guardrails around the use of artificial intelligence to preserve jobs. The guild leadership also wants new rules regarding self-taped auditions, a pandemic phenomenon that has resulted in significantly reduced live casting sessions.

The producers’ alliance stated that the actors’ union has won “historic pay and residual increases, significantly higher limits on pension and health contributions, audition protections, shorter series option periods, an unprecedented AI proposal that protects actors’ digital equality, and more.” The offer is rejected.” More.”

Actors last staged a major walkout in 1980, in which the economic details of the still-early home video rental and sales boom were a moot point. Their latest action is part of a revitalized labor movement, especially in California, where hotel workers, school bus drivers, teachers and cafeteria workers have all gone on strike for brief periods in recent months.

The first distress signal for the studio came in early June when the nearly 65,000 members of actors’ union SAG-AFTRA voted to authorize a strike. Nearly 98 percent of voters supported authorization, a surprising figure that narrowed the writers’ margin by a slim margin.

Still, studio interlocutors entered the conversation feeling optimistic. He was surprised when he saw the union’s list of proposals—it totaled 48 pages, according to two people familiar with the proposals, nearly three times the size of the list during their last talks in 2020, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Talked on the condition of To discuss confidential conversation.

Then in late June, more than 1,000 actors, including stalwarts like Meryl Streep, John Leguizamo, Jennifer Lawrence, Constance Wu and Ben Stiller, signed a letter to the guild leadership, declaring bluntly that “we are ready to strike.” Ready for.”

“This is an unprecedented inflection point in our industry, and what might have been considered a good deal in any other number of years is not substantial,” the letter said. “We feel that our wages, our art, our creative freedom and the power of our union have all been undermined over the past decade. We need to reverse those trajectories.”

On Tuesday, the union agreed to a request by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to appoint a federal arbitrator, but declined to extend the contract deadline on Wednesday. Two mediators were involved, according to people with knowledge of the talks.

Hollywood studios will now need to tackle the labor war on two fronts, with no modern playbook to consult. There are several open questions, including whether actors and writers can demand that future negotiations with the studio be held together. One guild that won’t be included: the Directors Guild of America, which last month ratified a contract with the studio that their union leadership described as “historic.”

The actors’ walkout will provide an immediate boon to the striking writers, who have been on strike for over 70 days; His union, the Writers Guild of America, has yet to return to bargaining with the studio. The actors will soon join the writers on strike in Los Angeles and New York in what is likely to be a noisy and star-studded spectacle — struggling actors still trying to find a foothold next to A-listers with bodyguards, Those who get paid $20 million or more per year. film role.

It’s definitely going to be hot: Meteorologists said a “severe” heat wave in the Los Angeles area will last through next week. Burbank’s highest temperature can reach 108 degrees.

The last time writers and actors went on strike at the same time was in 1960, when Ronald Reagan was president of the Screen Actors Guild, and the two magazines battled for films to be shown on television.

Although many productions were shut down after the writers’ strike, some films and TV series continued to be filmed with completed scripts. A prominent talent agent said the writers’ strike has effectively shut down 80 percent of the scripted industry — and a second strike would shut it down entirely.

The strikes are the latest major blow to the entertainment industry, which has been shaken in recent years by the pandemic and sweeping technological changes.

Hollywood studios have seen their share prices plummet and their profit margins shrink as viewership for cable and network television plummets as well as box office returns in the wake of the explosive growth of streaming entertainment.

Many companies have resorted to layoffs, as well as removing series from their streaming services, in the name of trying to increase profit margins and satisfy finicky investors. Studio executives put the brakes on orders for new television series last year as their streaming services continued to run short of cash.

Veteran media executive Barry Diller said in an interview that the recent upheaval in the industry has created a crisis for both sides.

“You have a complete change in the underlying economics of the entertainment business that was previously certainly the last 50 years, if not the last 100 years,” he said. “Everything was basically in the balance under the hegemony of the five major studios, and then, oh my god, came the tech companies and increasingly transformative things that came out of Covid, Netflix, Amazon and Apple. The result of which is that your business is completely ruined.

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