SAG strike: Hollywood actors announce historic walkout

SAG strike: Hollywood actors announce historic walkout
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  • By Bernd Debusmann Jr & Samantha Granville in Los Angeles
  • BBC News

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Watch: “It’s Gonna Be A Dystopia” – Fran Drescher

Hollywood actors have announced they will join an ongoing strike by screenwriters in the industry’s biggest shutdown in more than 60 years.

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) wants the streaming giants to agree to a fairer distribution of profits and better working conditions.

Some 160,000 performers will stop working at midnight.

The shutdown means the vast majority of American film and television production will come to a halt.

Stars Cillian Murphy, Matt Damon and Emily Blunt left the premiere of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer in London on Thursday night as a strike was declared.

The SAG walkout begins at midnight Los Angeles time (08:00 BST). Picketing will begin Friday morning outside Netflix’s California headquarters, before moving on to Paramount, Warner Bros and Disney.

The union – officially known as the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, or SAG-AFTRA – also wants a guarantee that artificial intelligence (AI) and computer-generated faces and voices will not be used. to replace the actors.

source of images, Getty Images


Actors Emily Blunt (L), Cillian Murphy (center) and Florence Pugh (R) at the Oppenheimer premiere

The group representing the studios, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, or AMPTP, criticized the decision.

He said “a strike is certainly not the outcome we were hoping for because the studios cannot function without the artists who bring our TV shows and movies to life”.

“The union has unfortunately chosen a path that will lead to financial hardship for countless thousands of people who depend on the industry,” its statement added.

To address concerns about the use of AI, AMPTP said it had agreed to a “groundbreaking proposal” that would protect actors’ digital likenesses and require their consent when digital replicas are used in performances or changes are made.

But SAG national executive director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said the offer was unacceptable.

“They’re proposing that our background artists can be scanned, get paid a day’s pay, and their company owns that scan of their image, their likeness, and can use it for the rest of eternity” , did he declare. said. “If you think this is a revolutionary proposition, I suggest you think again.”

Another SAG demand from streaming services is that actors receive higher base pay and residuals, i.e. payments made to actors from repeats of films and programs in which they starred.

The strike includes tens of thousands of actors who receive significantly less pay for small roles than their A-list colleagues.

“In the old model, they get residuals based on success,” Hollywood Reporter editor Kim Masters told the BBC. “In the new model, they can’t find out what’s going on behind the scenes because streamers don’t share.”

Fran Drescher, president of SAG, said the strike comes at a “very decisive time” for industry players.

“What happens to us happens in all walks of work,” she said, “when employers make Wall Street and greed their priority, and they forget about the essential contributors who keep the machine running. “.

A separate strike by 11,500 members of the Writers Guild of America demanding better pay and working conditions has been underway since May 2.

Some authors have turned to projects that are not covered by the contract between the guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

The “double strike” by the two unions is the first since 1960, when the SAG was led by actor Ronald Reagan, long before he entered politics and became president of the United States. The last comedians’ strike dates back to 1980.


The Writers Guild of America has been on strike since May

Speaking at a gathering of industry leaders at an Idaho resort ahead of Thursday’s SAG announcement, Disney CEO Bob Iger said the demands of actors and writers don’t were impractical and detrimental to an industry still recovering from the pandemic.

“It’s very disturbing to me,” Mr. Iger said. “This is the worst time in the world to add to this disruption.”

A third union, the Directors Guild of America, successfully negotiated a contract in June and will not participate.

The walkout will add to a list of projects that have already been halted or stalled due to the writers’ strike.

For films in production, this means that much of the work will become impossible. Even in cases where filming has already been completed, actors will not be available for reshoots and other essential parts of the filmmaking process.

TV shows that are still being filmed will also have to largely shut down as actors become unavailable, although in some cases side deals may be struck between artists and producers to allow work to continue. continue.

Hollywood’s top stars won’t be able to attend events to promote new releases and upcoming releases. Events, including the Emmys and Comic-Con, may be postponed or reduced.

International events, such as the Toronto and Venice Film Festivals, will continue, although SAG actors will not be able to attend as they do every year.

In the hours following the announcement, several SAG-affiliated actors took to Instagram to voice their support for the strike, including Better Call Saul star Bob Odenkirk, Sex and the City’s Cynthia Nixon and the Hollywood veteran. Jamie Lee Curtis.

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