Cut! Hollywood Shuttered: Actors Join Writers in Historic Strike
Cue the reruns.
By: Kelli Ballard | July 17, 2023 | 615 Words
Lights, camera, strike! That’s right, actors have now joined writes in their strike. The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, most commonly called SAG-AFTRA, voted Thursday, July 13, to join the writers strike. Now 160,000 entertainers have joined the 11,000 creators in refusing to work until their demands are met. The strike effectively shutters Hollywood – and it leaves you with nothing but reruns to watch on TV.
Actors Walk Off Sets
The new strike took effect at midnight after the vote. Actors walked off sets and stopped all promotional work. SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher, who starred in the ‘90s sitcom The Nanny, said at a press conference:
“The eyes of the world and, particularly, the eyes of labor are upon us. What happens to us is important. What’s happening to us is happening across all fields of labor. When employers make Wall Street and greed their priority and they forget about the essential contributors who make the machine run, we have a problem.”
So what do the actors want? More pay, of course! They demand increased health benefits and pensions, more and better restrictions and guidelines on how artificial intelligence (AI) is used on sets, and to get their fair share of residual payments from streaming services, like Hulu and Netflix.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, or AMPTP, which is the union that represents Hollywood studios, said it “presented a deal that offered higher caps on pensions and health contributions, audition protections, shortened series option periods, and a groundbreaking AI proposal that protects actors’ digital likenesses.”
SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, who is also the chief negotiator, said it wasn’t such a great deal, though. He explained:
“In that ground breaking AI proposal, they proposed that our background performers should be able to be scanned, get paid for one day’s pay, and their company should own that scan, their image, their likeness, and should be able to use it for the rest of eternity in any project they want with no consent and no compensation. So if you think that’s a ground breaking proposal I suggest you think again.”
What Does the Strike Really Mean?
It is, essentially, lights out in Hollywood. While striking, actors will not be allowed to promote past projects through conventions, interviews, or panels. This includes any Emmy Award campaigning. The award ceremony is scheduled September 18 on Fox.
Actors are out of work until a deal is agreed upon. They cannot work on any film or TV shows, and they can’t even audition for future projects.
Enough about the actors, what about the audiences? It’s rerun city, baby. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the next episodes of your favorite show – and trips to the movie theater will have to wait, too, unless theaters plan to have nostalgic showings at – hopefully – reduced prices.
This strike comes at an inconvenient time for an industry that has suffered and is still trying to recover after the pandemic shut down production and delayed movies and television series releases. Disney CEO Bob Iger said the strike comes at “the worst time in the world” and:
“It will have a very, very damaging effect on the whole business. And unfortunately there’s huge collateral damage to the industry, to people who are, you know, support services. I could go on and on. It will affect the economy of different regions, even, because of the sheer size of the business. It’s a shame. It is really a shame.”