TV and Movie Actors Vote for Biggest Walkout in Four Decades

TV and Movie Actors Vote for Biggest Walkout in Four Decades


Around 160,000 TV and movie actors are expected to join the screenwriters, who quit their jobs in May. This will be the first shutdown of the industry in 63 years.

I cannot believe how far we differ on so many issues. They claim poverty. They're losing money every day when they give hundreds of millions to their C.E.O.s. This is disgusting. Shame on them. The strike will start at midnight tonight. The jig's up, A.M.P.T.P. We are strong. Wake up and smell that coffee. We demand respect for our contributions and are proud to stand up and be recognized. You must share the wealth with us because we cannot exist without you.

Hollywood actors union approved a walkout on Thursday, the first in 43 years. The $134 billion American film and television industry came to a standstill over pay issues and concerns about a tech-dominated world.

SAG-AFTRA leaders, who represent 160,000 actors in television and movies, have announced a strike. The union's leaders said that negotiations with studios about a new contract failed, and streaming services and artificial intelligent were at the heart of the dispute. The actors, along with screenwriters who went on strike in May, will be joining picket lines Friday in New York, Los Angeles, and dozens of other American towns where movies and scripted television shows are produced.

Since 1960, the last time actors and screenwriters were on strike together was when Ronald Reagan led the union of actors and Marilyn Monroe was still in the movies. More than 170,000 workers are involved in two strikes against studios such as Disney, Universal and Sony, and tech giants like Netflix and Apple.

"I am shocked at the way that the people with whom we do business treat us!" Fran Drescher said this at a Los Angeles news conference Thursday. She is the president of SAG-AFTRA - the union for actors. How far apart we are in so many areas. They claim to be poor, and that they are losing money every day when they give hundreds of millions of dollar to their C.E.O.s. This is disgusting. Shame on the perpetrators!

Drescher, shaking her fists and expressing anger, noted that streaming had 'changed the entire business model'. She also said that artificial intelligence was likely to change it further in the future. She said, 'This moment is historic -- it's a moment when truth will be revealed.' At some point you will have to say 'No' to this.

Writers Guild of America members, such as the Writers Guild of America, have similar demands to those of actors. Both unions claim they want to make sure that their members are paid a living wage, especially those who work in the film and television industry.

The fear of screenwriters is that studios may use A.I. Screenwriters are afraid that studios will use A.I. The technology is feared by actors who fear that it could be used without their consent or payment to create digital copies of their likenesses, or alter performances.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which negotiates on behalf of Hollywood firms, claimed to have worked hard to achieve a fair deal in a time of difficulty for an industry that was upended by streaming revolution, accelerated by the pandemic.

The alliance stated that the union had'regrettably' chosen a course that would lead to financial hardships for thousands of people that depend on the film industry. In a press release, the studios were cited as having offered 14 'historical' improvements in contract terms. According to the Alliance, these included an 11 percent increase in pay for background actors and stand-ins in the first year of the contract, and a 76% increase in residual payments from 'high budget' shows streaming overseas.

In a separate press release, the alliance said: 'We regret that SAG-AFTRA decided to withdraw from negotiations. It is not our choice but the union's.

Studio executives responded in different ways to Ms. Drescher’s anger behind the scenes. Others said that they underestimated Drescher's ability to lead a sometimes-fractious union of actors, and dismissed her as nothing more than the cartoonish character she played in 'The Nanny.' Some mocked her for giving a performance worthy of an Academy Award at the union's press conference.

The uncharacteristic resolve of Hollywood's actors caught executives and producers by surprise. Screenwriters had walked out on eight occasions in the last seven decades.

In 1980, the actors staged their last major walkout when they were unable to agree on how to deal with the economics of an emerging boom in video rental and sales. The actors' latest action is part a resurgent labour movement, especially in California where hotel workers and school bus drivers have been on strike in recent months.

Image of the Screen Actors Guild in Los Angeles. Members of the union include actors in film and TV, radio personalities, recording artist, voice actors and internet personalities. Credit... Caroline Brehman/EPA, via Shutterstock

Early in June, roughly 65,000 actors voted for a strike. Nearly 98 percent supported the authorization. This figure was just a hair higher than the writers' margin.

Still, studio negotiators entered the negotiations feeling optimistic. The union's list was 48 pages long, almost triple the length of their previous list from 2020.

In late June, over 1,000 actors including Meryl Strreep and John Leguizamo as well as Jennifer Lawrence, Constance Wu, Ben Stiller and Jennifer Lawrence signed a letter addressed to the guild leadership declaring that they were 'prepared to strike'.

Image Picketing Outside Netflix's Offices on Tuesday. On Friday, A-listers and struggling actors will be joining the line. Credit... Mario Tama/Getty Images

Hollywood studios must now navigate a labor war on two fronts without a modern playbook. Many questions remain unanswered, such as whether actors and writers will demand future negotiations with studios to be conducted simultaneously. The Directors Guild of America will not be part of the agreement, as they ratified their contract last month.

The writers' strike will benefit immediately from the actors' walkout. They have been on picket lines more than 70 day, and the Writers Guild is yet to negotiate with studios. Now, those pickets are likely to be star-studded spectacles - struggling actors still trying to gain a foothold in the industry next to A-listers who have bodyguards and are paid up to $20 million per role.

The strikes are the most recent blow to the entertainment industry, which has been shook in the past few years by the pandemic as well as sweeping technological changes.

Hollywood studios' share prices have plummeted and their profit margins shrunk as cable and network TV viewership, as well as box-office returns, has fallen in response to the explosive growth of online entertainment.

People took selfies under the famous Hollywood Sign on Wednesday, as SAG/AFTRA threatened a walkout. Credit... Mario Tama/Getty Images

In an effort to satisfy investors and increase profits, many companies have laid off employees or removed series from their streaming service. Last year, studio executives had already halted the ordering of new television shows as their streaming services continued burning through cash.

Robert A. Iger said in an interview with CNBC Thursday morning that, given the many 'disruptive' forces in the industry, this is the worst possible time to add more disruption.

Barry Diller, a veteran media executive, stated in an interview that recent changes in the industry have caused both parties distress.

He said: 'You've got a complete shift in the economics that underlie the entertainment industry. It's been the same for at least the past 50 years, and maybe even the last 100,' he added. Everything was in balance when five major studios ruled the entertainment industry. Then, the tech giants like Netflix, Amazon, Apple, and Covid came along and changed everything. You end up with a business that is completely upended.

The union released rules to its members after the announcement of the strike. In addition to not being allowed to appear in front of cameras, members will also not be allowed to promote their current projects. This includes Comic-Cons, film festivals and premieres.

This means that actors won't be able promote films during a crucial stretch of the summer box-office, when big budget films such as 'Barbie', 'Oppenheimer,' and Haunted mansion are released.

Some of these promotional opportunities are already gone: Late-night programs like "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" and "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" have only been airing repeat episodes throughout the writers' strikes.

Viewers should begin to notice the effects of both strikes within two months. If the labor dispute is not resolved immediately, the ABC Fall schedule will feature a nightly lineup of reality shows and game-shows, including "Celebrity Wheel of Fortune," "Dancing With the Stars," and 'Judge Steve Harvey" -- along with repeats of the ABC show 'Abbott Elementary.

If the strike drags into the fall, blockbuster movies scheduled for release next summer, such as 'Deadpool 3', could be delayed.