How TV shows and movies would be affected by a double strike

Meryl Streep, Rami Malek, Jennifer Lawrence and Julia Louis-Dreyfus were all in favor of a SAG-AFTRA strike if a contract with the studios could not be reached.  (Photo: Getty Images)

Meryl Streep, Rami Malek, Jennifer Lawrence and Julia Louis-Dreyfus were all in favor of a SAG-AFTRA strike if a contract with the studios could not be reached. (Photo: Getty Images)

Hollywood’s thicket of picket lines could soon receive an influx of famous faces, as the actors’ union looks increasingly likely to join the writers in a massive work stoppage. It would be the first time since 1960 that Tinseltown actors and writers have been on strike at the same time.

Leaders of SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which includes film studios, television networks and streamers, were unable to reach agreement on a new CONTRACT. The current one was set to expire on June 30, with the deadline later being extended to July 12 at 11:59 p.m. PT. “The parties will continue to negotiate under a mutually agreed media blackout,” the groups said in a statement obtained by Yahoo. “No organization will comment to the media on the negotiations during the extension.”

On Wednesday, a federal mediator was dispatched to Hail Mary to try to find mutually agreeable terms as the midnight deadline approached.

As recently as June 24, the former The nanny Star Fran Drescher, who is now president of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, told members that union representatives were conducting “extremely productive negotiations that focus on all of the critical issues that you have told us the most important to you. And we’re staying strong and we’re going to make a breakthrough deal.” She sounded less optimistic later that week. hello america, acknowledging that there has been no progress in some areas. (Drescher came under fire from her peers last weekend when she flew to Italy for a Dolce & Gabbana fashion event with the Kardashians as talks continued in Hollywood.)

In perhaps one of the most ominous signs that a strike was very likely, SAG-AFTRA executives held a conference call with major Hollywood ad agencies on Monday, apparently preparing them for a work stoppage. . ‘It would be a miracle at this point’ to reach a deal by Wednesday night, producer says Variety.

By Variety, there were “major differences” on a number of issues, including the use of artificial intelligence. Negotiations between the parties began on May 31.

Here’s a breakdown of why it happened and what it means for entertainment fans:

What do actors want that they don’t get from studios and networks?

Actors want better overall salaries and better job protections, including AI regulation and increased streaming residuals, the way many of their performances are now delivered to consumers.

On June 27, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Quinta Brunson, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Rami Malek, Elliot Page and hundreds of other members sent an internal letter to Drescher and union leaders demanding that they push for a ” seismic realignment” of working conditions, including minimum pay rates, exclusivity clauses, residuals when their work is streamed or used to train AI, as well as regulation of the practice of self-hearing auditions. recorded.

“We want you to know that we would rather strike than compromise on these fundamentals, and we believe that if we settle for a less than transformative deal, the future of our union and our profession will be compromised, and SAG-AFTRA will enter the next trade with significantly reduced leverage,” they wrote.

Days before the letter was sent, members had voted overwhelmingly to strike – a whopping 98% of the 65,000 members who voted – if a deal was not reached by the deadline. The idea of ​​a strike exploded in popularity after the star-studded statement and by Wednesday more than 1,000 members, including Pedro Pascal, Charlize Theron and Drescher herself, had signed on.

Studios, meanwhile, are looking to stay profitable. Netflix officials, for example, announced this month that the company would lay off 300 employees amid slowing revenue growth.

What is the link with the writers’ strike?

It’s separate, though the writers, who went on strike May 2 after contract talks between their union, the Writers Guild of America and the AMPTP collapsed, are demanding some of the same things as the actors. They are primarily looking for higher salaries, especially amid changes in how people consume content and how that content is created. A big deal for them is that streaming has caused a change in the industry. The traditional residuals – a writer’s pay when you watch their show – are drying up. Shows are also entering production in shorter spurts, which means some writers are struggling to cobble together a stable income. The writers also wanted guarantees that the shows would employ a specific number of writers for a specific length of time, rather than so-called “mini-rooms” for writers, and that their jobs would be protected from taking over. by AI.

So it’s not directly related, but it does illustrate the state of the entertainment industry, which like the rest of the world is still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. Gone are the days of a TV series that aired once a week for over 20 weeks, now replaced by a streaming show that could have eight episodes dropping at once, which of course affects the cast and crew. .

And that has real consequences for the people who write these jaw-dropping episodes and movies. Take actress Rebecca Metz (TV’s Shameless And better things), who told Agence France-Presse on June 28 that over the past few years, she had seen her residuals shrink to a “tiny fraction” of what they used to be, as streamers often pay high rates. flat rates to artists, rather than rates based on a program’s popularity. So someone who plays a minor character on a show you’ve never heard of earns the same prize money in those residuals as someone on, say, a hit like Hulu’s Only murders in the building.

“When we’re not working for a good period, all of a sudden we’re worried about eligibility for our health insurance,” Metz told the outlet.

OK, so what does the actors strike mean for my favorite TV shows and upcoming movies?

It’s definitely not good. If there’s an upside, it’s that since the writers were already on strike, many productions had closed anyway. These include Saturday Night Livewhich ended its season early, and scripted shows like stranger things, hacks And Cobra Kaias well as films, such as Marvel’s Blade, so there won’t be too drastic a change in the immediate future. However, there are shows and movies that have been written Before the screenwriters have gone on strike and they will no longer be able to film without actors.

In the short term, many shows have already been filmed and are in the box, but audiences would still see changes like a possible delay to the Emmy Awards, which are currently scheduled for September 18. awards be without the casts of Abbott Elementary School And the bear?) The annual fan fair that is Comic-Con International, which was scheduled for July 20-23 in San Diego, may be a bust.

A strike would also mean that actors would stop promoting their projects through such appearances, which would also leave the entertainment news industry, as well as talk shows, at a loss.

Additionally, a cast strike will likely affect our movie and TV picks for years to come as productions wind down and slated projects pile up.

How long will this last?

Although no one knows exactly, we can get an idea of ​​the handful of times actors have gone on strike. The most recent date back to 1980, when a work stoppage lasted about four months as performers sought compensation for “pay TV, videodisc and video cassettes”, and 2000. Los Angeles Times then reported that actors wanted higher payouts for commercials, instead of being paid a flat fee for directing cable commercials. They wanted to be paid in residuals, just like they were with the shows. “Actors also want to address the emerging issue of how they will be paid when ads run on the internet,” the newspaper noted.

The double strike makes the situation particularly dire for pop culture followers.

An earlier version of this story was published on June 30, 2023.

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