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A New Hope: Optimism Builds for Actors Strike to End
Cautious optimism, of course
There’s a fair amount of optimism in the air that the actors union representing 160,000-plus performers could strike a deal with Hollywood’s biggest studios on a new contract sometime this week, bringing what is now a 109-day strike to an end.
Cautious optimism, of course — the same phrase deployed during the last week of the Writers Guild of America strike.
The cause of this guarded hopefulness? The studios and SAG-AFTRA seem to be inching toward agreement on certain issues, such as minimum rate increases. (As you’ll recall, the studios initially offered 5 percent and the union initially asked for 11 percent; their positions are now at around 7 percent and 9 percent, respectively, which is much less further apart than before.)
Both parties met over the weekend — another sign pointing to progress — and SAG-AFTRA offered up an updated package of proposals, someone close to the talks tells me. Now negotiators for both groups have been working on their own sides of the fence today, as the town eagerly waits for word on when they might meet back at the negotiating table.
Until a deal is announced, however, expect the pickets to look populated. SAG-AFTRA sounded the call to its members asking them to “flood the picket lines” on Monday. All proposals on the table have been discussed, said the union’s negotiating committee in the letter, including the ever-precarious issue of AI.
The pressure is on. The industry’s rank-and-file continues to grind through their savings. And if studios hope to restart production in earnest come January, then a deal this week would be ideal for a lot of people. And ideal more so for Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery if, come peak earnings season next week, they want to present this year’s labor agita to investors as a one-off event in the rearview mirror.
But as always, for now, it’s wait and see.
ICYMI: Strike News
This week’s episode of Saturday Night Live took aim at SAG-AFTRA’s Halloween costume rules, with cast member Sarah Sherman impersonating guild president Fran Drescher. Sherman’s Drescher gave some ideas for costumes that wouldn’t break the rules, including “Harry Potter as described only in the book” or “minor characters from the Bible who have not appeared in any film adaptation.” (The Hollywood Reporter)
Machine Gun Kelly and Megan Fox disregarded the Halloween costume rules, dressing up and posting pictures as characters from Kill Bill. Fox even tagged SAG-AFTRA in her post, and drew criticism from other guild members for her taunt. (Los Angeles Times)
Despite being a high-budget franchise tentpole, Hunger Games prequel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes has received an interim agreement from SAG-AFTRA, allowing stars Rachel Zegler, Viola Davis, and Peter Dinklage to promote the film. The franchise is backed by Lionsgate, which is not a part of the AMPTP, thus making it eligible for an interim agreement. (Variety)
Additional reporting for ICYMI: Strike News by Matthew Frank.
Disclosure: Elaine Low is an inactive member of SAG-AFTRA.