Hollywood on Pause: Major Actors’ Union Goes on Strike, Disrupting Film and TV Industry

The American entertainment industry faced a substantial setback on Friday, as 65,000 actors represented by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) went on strike after failed negotiations with motion picture studios.

The latest development marks the first industry-wide work stoppage by the labor group since 1980, and it coincides with the ongoing strike of 11,000 TV and scriptwriters represented by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) that started in early May. The last time two major Hollywood unions were on strike simultaneously was in 1960.

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA’s national executive director, argued at a press conference that current contracts do not align with industry changes, resulting in devaluation of union members and negative impacts on their livelihoods. Fran Drescher, SAG-AFTRA President, lambasted studios for pleading poverty while awarding significant sums to their CEOs, stating that the current circumstances necessitate a stand against continued marginalization and disrespect.

At the heart of the SAG-AFTRA dispute is the impact of artificial intelligence in movies and streaming services on actors’ residual pay, with the union asserting that the use of generative technology poses a threat to the actors’ livelihoods.

Concerns were also raised regarding proposals for background performers to be scanned for one-day pay while allowing companies to retain those scans indefinitely. Additionally, residuals, which are crucial for most actors’ income, have fallen dramatically due to streaming dominance and high inflation.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, representing the major studios and streaming services, contested the strike, accusing the union of disregarding an offer with significant pay and residual increases, better audition protections, and a progressive AI proposal safeguarding actors’ digital likenesses. Meanwhile, Disney CEO Bob Iger, warned that a strike could significantly harm the industry and claimed that the unions’ expectations were unrealistic.

This strike solely affects the union’s 65,000 film and TV actors, despite SAG-AFTRA’s total membership of over 160,000 individuals, including broadcast journalists, hosts, and stunt performers. Prior to the commencement of talks on June 7, these actors had overwhelmingly voted in favor of authorizing strike action.

Information for this briefing was found via CBS News and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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