Actors Join Writers in Strike, Shutting Down Hollywood

It's the first time two major showbiz unions have been on strike together since 1960
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 13, 2023 2:37 PM CDT
Actors Join Writers in Strike, Shutting Down Hollywood
Meredith Stiehm, left, president of Writers Guild of America West, and Fran Drescher, president of SAG-AFTRA, take part in a rally by striking writers outside Paramount Pictures studio in Los Angeles on May 8, 2023.   (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

Hollywood is essentially shut down now: The union representing most actors voted Thursday to join screenwriters in the first joint strike in more than six decades, reports the AP. The leadership of the union known as SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) voted for the strike soon after their contract expired and talks broke off with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents employers including Disney, Netflix, Amazon, and others. The union's rank-and-file previously authorized a strike by an overwhelming margin. "A strike is an instrument of last resort," said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, executive director of the union.

It's the first strike for actors from film and television shows since 1980. And it's the first time two major Hollywood unions have been on strike at the same time since 1960, when Ronald Reagan was the actors' guild president. "Employers make Wall Street and greed their priority and they forget about the essential contributors that make the machine run," SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher (former star of The Nanny) said in an impassioned speech that drew applause from union leaders in the room. "It is disgusting. Shame on them. They stand on the wrong side of history."

The AMPTP said it was disappointed in the breakdown. "This is the Union's choice, not ours," the group said in a statement. "In doing so, it has dismissed our offer of historic pay and residual increases, substantially higher caps on pension and health contributions, audition protections, shortened series option periods, a groundbreaking AI proposal that protects actors' digital likenesses, and more." The stakes in the negotiations include both base and residual pay, which actors say has been undercut by inflation and the streaming ecosystem; benefits; and the threat of unregulated use of artificial intelligence. (More actors strike stories.)

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