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Daily Digest: SAG-AFTRA Readers Write Me: 'Screw These Garbage People'
An awkward upfronts and fomenting anger from actors close out Week Three
At 5 p.m. last night, voting opened for SAG-AFTRA’s strike authorization, which would give the actors’ union the right to use a work stoppage as leverage in its upcoming negotiations with the studios represented by the AMPTP. With the number of high-profile and not so high-profile thespians spotted on the picket lines, it certainly appears as though the writers have a great deal of support from the actors guild, but we’ll see what the numbers say when they come in — and if a silent majority possibly rears its head.
Actors, thanks for writing in with your thoughts (which I’ll only ever share here with your permission). Here’s one very succinct piece of reader mail from actor Ezra Buzzington (Fight Club) who it seems did not have a difficult time making up his mind about the strike authorization vote:
In other news, the Newsies fans were certainly on a mission Thursday, seizing the day to picket Disney with a record number of newsboy caps. Thanks to Stephen Reedy for sharing video with us here at The Ankler, and readers, please email me at email@example.com with your picket and strike photos! A gal can only be at so many picket lines at once during the week.
Yesterday was also “Trans Takeover Thursday” at Netflix, which reportedly featured a mini-ball competition, judges and all. “Trans people are workers too. We’re in solidarity with the labor movement around the world and we are showing up in ways that we are often not depicted,” writer Jacob Tobia told Variety.
Meanwhile, Friday saw a South Asian picket take over the gates outside Disney, and a Star Trek-themed picket on both coasts.
“This is a really difficult time for everyone in our industry, because they completely changed the entire landscape of our industry,” said Star Trek: Voyager actor Jeri Ryan outside the Paramount lot today. “And you can’t make a living and support your families and pay your rent, and function the way they used to be able to 10, 15, 20 years ago. So the writers have got to be paid fairly. The actors have got to be paid fairly.”
Your Weekend Read + Podcast
Here’s your long read for the weekend, courtesy of our own Entertainment Strategy Guy, who noodled over the content cuts at Disney and Netflix, and what that means for writers:
But this is what worries me: what if the AMPTP agrees to an increase, but collectively cuts content spending dramatically in future years? As Rob Long argued on The Ankler podcast, this happens nearly every negotiation: the studios agree to some big change, then circumvent it later. Worse, the WGA seems to negotiate based on the past five years, not predicting the next 10.
In this case, imagine that the number of scripted English-language TV shows goes from nearly 500 to just 375 per year, a 25 percent drop, to roughly the same number that were produced around 2013-2014, before the streaming boom started.
And here’s your weekend listen: Sean McNulty, Richard Rushfield and I break down in The Ankler’s weekly podcast the impact of the cable bundle, aka Hollywood’s disappearing ATM, on streaming, and our takeaways from this unique upfronts week in New York that was marked by picket lines outside Radio City Music Hall, the Javits Center and Madison Square Garden. Tell us what you think. Sean also did an epic breakdown of how we got here, economically, earlier today on his excellent (free) morning newsletter, The Wakeup.
Today’s Strike News
With the potential of a multi-union strike on the horizon, Cannes dealmakers have their sights set on finished projects and ones in production. (The Hollywood Reporter)
“The writers are on strike, so in support of the WGA, I am going to step away from promoting any shows I worked on. Which is hard,” tweeted D.J. Nash, the creator of ABC’s A Million Little Things, and one of many writers and showrunners who have stepped back from publicity for their work. (Los Angeles Times)
Aziz Ansari-directed feature Good Fortune, starring Keanu Reeves and Seth Rogen, was shut down by picketers on Thursday night. (Deadline)
Picket Sign of the Day
One more for the Newsies fans.