The strike by Hollywood film and TV actors, which began on July 14, entered its 100th day the previous day, and it was announced that negotiations will resume on Tuesday, with several studio executives expected to join.
In the strike, which continues as a result of disputes over issues such as long-term wages and control over the use of AI, negotiations between SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) representing the actors and AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) representing the producers, which had previously started on October 2, reached an impasse on October 11.
Solidarity event for the strike
While the strike has led to a series of unusual developments in the industry, solidarity events and messages are also resonating.
Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman spearheaded a live fundraiser and announced 30 performers including Jeremy Allen White, Halle Berry, Bryan Cranston, Lily Tomlin, Lil Dicky, LeVar Burton, Kumail Nanjiani and Patton Oswalt.
Kauffman expressed her satisfaction with the end of the screenwriters’ strike and said that she knew the actors wanted to get a good deal and get back to work.
The strike by the Writers Guild of America (WGA), which began on May 2 demanding job guarantees and salary security, ended on September 27 following a preliminary agreement with AMPTP.
Subscription share demand
While the AMPTP cited the union’s demand for a fee for each subscriber to streaming services as one of the reasons for the breakdown of previous talks, SAG-AFTRA leaders said it was ridiculous to frame this demand as though it were a tax on customers, and said it was the executives themselves who wanted to shift from a model based on a show’s popularity to one based on the number of subscribers.
SAG-AFTRA said it was willing to continue at any time but would not change its demands. “I think they think we will cower,” said SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher. “But that will never happen because this is a crossroads and we have to stay the course.”
Hollywood and strikes
Strikes by Hollywood actors are less frequent and shorter than strikes by writers. The Screen Actors Guild (SAG became SAG-AFTRA after the 2012 merger) has gone on strike against film and TV studios only three times in its history.
The first time, in 1960, when actors and writers simultaneously struck, the union was led by Ronald Reagan, who later became President of the United States. The strike vote took place at the home of Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, parents of Jamie Lee Curtis, now a SAG-AFTRA member and vocalist.
That year, the strike was suspended for the Academy Awards, and a deal was eventually reached on the critical issue of the strike – the payment of actors in exchange for the TV broadcast of movies. This strike lasted 42 days.
The strike in 1980 was the longest strike so far this year (67 days) and that time, they were seeking payment for their work when it appeared on home video cassettes and cable TV, along with significant hikes in minimum compensation for roles. A tentative deal was reached with significant gains but major compromises in both areas. The strike coincided with the Emmy Awards, and the ceremony was boycotted.
A 2016-2017 strike by the union’s video game voice actors lasted a whopping 11 months. That segment of the union could strike again soon if a new contract deal isn’t reached.
Effects of the last strike
The Emmys, whose nominations were announced the day before the actors called for a strike, this time chose to wait for the stars and postpone their ceremony from September to January. There is still time for the Oscars (in March). However, it is not legal for artists to promote their movies. For the Oscar-nominated Killers of the Flower Moon, director Martin Scorsese gave an interview, but SAG-AFTRA members Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone and Robert DeNiro did not.