INSIDE THE ACTOR-STUDIO CONVERSATIONS THAT FAILED
Hopes were high, and leaders of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists were cautiously optimistic when they resumed negotiations on October 2 for the first time since the strike began two and a half months earlier.
The same group of executive directors of the largest studios had reached a major deal just over a week earlier with writers on strike whose leaders celebrated their achievements on many issues that actors also fight for: long-term wages, consistency in employment and control over the use of artificial intelligence.
But the actors' conversations were lukewarm, with days off between sessions and no progress reports. The studios then abruptly ended them on Oct. 11, saying the actors' lawsuits were exorbitantly expensive and the two sides were too far apart to continue.
“We only met with them a couple of times, on Monday, half a day on Wednesday, half a day on Friday. "That's what they were available for," SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher told The Associated Press shortly after talks broke down. “Then last week, it was Monday and half a day Wednesday. And then “Goodbye. I've never really met people who don't really understand what negotiations mean. Why are you walking away from the table?
The studios said the SAG-AFTRA proposals would cost them an unsustainable $800 million a year. The union said that figure was a 60% overestimate.
Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, one of the executives who participated in the bargaining sessions, said that in the session that prompted the studios to pull out, the union had asked for a "subscriber tax unrelated to viewing or success” for each subscriber. streaming services.
“Unfortunately, this really broke our momentum,” Sarandos told investors in a Netflix earnings conference call on Wednesday.
SAG-AFTRA leaders said it was ridiculous to frame this lawsuit as if it were a tax on customers, and said it was the executives themselves who wanted to move from a model based on a show's popularity to one based on the number of subscribers. .
"We made big moves in their direction that have simply been ignored and not responded to," he told the AP. Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, national executive director and chief negotiator of SAG-AFTRA. “We made changes to our AI proposal. “We made dramatic changes to what used to be our streaming revenue share proposition,” Crabtree-Ireland said.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT IN THE ACTORS STRIKE?
The actors find themselves in unscripted territory, with no end in sight. Their union has never been on strike for this long, nor has it been on strike since before many of its members were born. Not even its veteran leaders, such as Crabtree-Ireland, who has been a member of the union for 20 years, have found themselves in these circumstances.
As they did for months before talks broke down, members and leaders will demonstrate, picket, and speak publicly until the studios show signs of being willing to talk again. Nobody knows how long that will take. SAG-AFTRA says it's willing to resume at any time, but that won't change its demands.
"I think they think we're going to chicken out," Drescher said. "But that will never happen because we are at a crossroads and we must stay the course."
The studio alliance said in a statement after talks broke down that it had made generous but rejected offers in all disputed areas. "We hope SAG-AFTRA reconsiders and returns to productive negotiations soon," the statement said.
The writers had their own false start with the studies that may give some reason for optimism. Their union attempted to restart negotiations with the studios in mid-August, more than three months after the strike began. Those talks went nowhere and were broken off after a few days. A month later, the study alliance called again. Those talks took off and most of their demands were met after five marathon days that resulted in a tentative agreement that their members would vote to approve almost unanimously.
HOW DID THE STRIKES OF PREVIOUS ACTORS DEVELOP?
The strikes of Hollywood actors They have been less frequent and shorter than those of writers. The Screen Actors Guild (they added “AFTRA” in a 2011 merger) has gone on strike against film and television studios only three times in its history.
In each case, emerging technology fueled the dispute. In 1960, the only time actors and writers went on strike simultaneously, the central issue was that actors sought compensation when their film work was broadcast on television, compensation the industry called residuals. The union, headed by future US president Ronald Reagan, was then a smaller and much less formal entity. The vote in favor of strike took place at the home of actors Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, the parents of current SAG-AFTRA member and vocal forward Jamie Lee Curtis.
In the middle of the strike, the actors and studios called for a truce so that everyone could attend the shows. Academy Awards , a measure prohibited under current union rules. Host Bob Hope called the meeting “the most glamorous strike meeting in Hollywood.”
In the end, a compromise was reached in which SAG dropped claims for residual rights to past films in exchange for a donation to its pension fund, along with a payment formula when future films aired on television. Their 42-day work stoppage began and ended within the span of the much longer writers' strike.
A 1980 strike It would be the longest of actors in film and television until this year. At the time, they were seeking pay for their work appearing on home video cassettes and cable television, along with significant increases in minimum compensation for the roles. A tentative agreement was reached with significant progress but important compromises in both areas. Union leaders declared the strike over after 67 days, but many members were dissatisfied and resisted returning to work. Nearly a month passed before leaders could muster enough votes to ratify the agreement.
This time, it was the emmy awards those who fell in the middle of the strike. The Television Academy held a ceremony, but after a boycott was called, only one sitting winner, Powers Boothe, was there to accept the trophy from her.
Other segments of the actors union have also gone on strike, including several protracted standoffs over the television commercial contract. A 2016-2017 strike by the union's video game voice actors lasted 11 months. That segment of the union could strike again soon if a new contract agreement is not reached.
WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH MOVIES AND TV SHOWS?
The return of writers has gotten Hollywood's production machine humming again, with rooms full of writers penning new seasons of shows that had been suspended and film writers finishing scripts. But the finished product will have to wait for the end of the actors' strike and the production of many television shows and dozens of movies. will remain suspended, including "Wicked", "Deadpool 3" and "Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 2".
The Emmys whose nominations were announced the same day the actors' strike was called, opted this time to wait for the stars and move their ceremony from September to January, although that date could also be threatened.
There is still a long way to go before the Oscar in March, but campaigns to win them are usually already underway. With some exceptions (non-studio, union-approved productions), artists are prohibited from promoting their films at press conferences or on red carpets. Director Martin Scorsese has been giving interviews about his new Oscar candidate » Killers of the Flower Moon «. SAG-AFTRA star and member Leonardo DiCaprio has not.