May 20, 2024

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Hollywood actors strike midnight and join writers in picket lines

Hollywood actors strike midnight and join writers in picket lines

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Hollywood actors will go on strike at midnight on Thursday after talks with studios stalled, joining film and TV writers who have been on strike since May, deepening the disruption of dozens of shows and movies.

The studios are now facing their first double shutdown in 63 years, forcing them to halt numerous productions across the US and abroad. The double whammy will add to the economic damage caused by the book’s withdrawal, dealing another blow to an industry grappling with changes to its business.

SAG-AFTRA—Hollywood’s largest union, representing 160,000 film and television actors—and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) are demanding increases in base wages and residuals in the era of broadcast television as well as guarantees that their work will not be replaced by artificial intelligence (AI).

The Actors Guild announced in a press conference on Thursday that the strike would begin at midnight after its board of directors unanimously agreed to withdraw.

Fran Drescher, former star of “The Nanny” TV show and president of SAG-AFTRA, called the studios’ responses to the actors’ concerns “insulting and disrespectful.”

“I was shocked at the way the people we were dealing with treated us,” Drescher said. “I can’t believe it, quite frankly, how far apart we are on a lot of things, and how they pretend to be poor that they’re losing money right and left when they’re giving away hundreds of millions to their CEOs. It’s sickening.”

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the trade association negotiating on behalf of Netflix Inc (NFLX.O), Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) and other companies, said it was “deeply disappointed that SAG-AFTRA decided to walk away from negotiations.” “.

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The group said it offered the highest percentage increases to minimum wage levels in 35 years, “significant increases” in pension and healthcare contribution caps, and a 76% increase in foreign residuals paid from big-budget streaming shows, among other benefits.

The studios also put forward a “groundbreaking proposal for artificial intelligence that protects actors’ digital likeness,” according to AMPTP. Actors are concerned that their digital images will be used without their permission or appropriate compensation.

“Instead of continuing to negotiate, SAG-AFTRA has set us on a course that will deepen the financial hardships of the thousands who depend on the industry for their livelihood,” the association said.

economic damage

The strike by nearly 11,500 writers sent late-night TV talk shows into endless reruns, disrupted most production for the fall TV season and halted work on big-budget films.

Reuters graphics

The withdrawal of SAG-AFTRA, which represents actors from small part players to Hollywood’s biggest movie stars, will effectively shut down the remaining studios’ production in the United States of scripted films and TV shows.

It would also hamper many outside shots involving SAG-AFTRA talent, such as Paramount Pictures’ sequel to “Gladiator,” which director Ridley Scott has been filming in Morocco and Malta.

Some production work that does not involve the SAG-AFTRA performer, such as location scouting or some post-production editing, may continue. But the loss of the actors, who will not be promoting their films or TV shows during the strike, will put more pressure on media companies to find a solution.

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Hollywood hasn’t faced simultaneous strikes since 1960, when members of the WGA and the Screen Actors Guild walked out of business in a fight over film leftovers sold to television networks.

Speaking from a group of media and tech moguls at a resort in Idaho, Disney CEO Bob Iger told CNBC Thursday that the writers and actors unions have unrealistic expectations.

“It’s very upsetting to me,” Iger said, referring to the entertainment industry’s ongoing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. “This is the worst time in the world that increases this disorder.”

The actors say the rise of the broadcast era has made it difficult for them to make a living, especially for the many thousands of SAG-AFTRA members who aren’t household names.

“You have to make $26,000 a year to qualify for your health insurance and there are a lot of people who cross that limit with their remaining payments,” actor Matt Damon said at a promotional event for the movie “Oppenheimer” on Wednesday. “There is money being made and it needs to be allocated in a way that cares about marginalized people.”

However, many streaming services are yet to turn a profit after companies have spent billions of dollars on programming to try to attract customers.

Disney, Comcast Corp. (CMCSA.O), NBCUniversal, and Paramount Global (PARA.O) all lost hundreds of millions of dollars from broadcasting last quarter. At the same time, the rise of online video has eroded TV advertising revenue as traditional TV audiences shrink and movie ticket sales remain below pre-pandemic levels.

Reuters graphics

The WGA’s outage has spread across California and beyond, hitting caterers, prop suppliers and others who depend on Hollywood productions for business. The economic damage is expected to spread after actors join the sit-in lines on Friday.

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Broadcast networks have already announced fall schedules packed with reality shows, which aren’t affected by the strikes.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwin) Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen, Don Chmielewski, and Marie-Louise Gumushian; Editing by Mark Porter and Bill Berkrot

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