Daily Digest: Studio Opposition Mounts as SAG-AFTRA Jumps In
Meanwhile, a 'Newsies'-themed picket is headed for the Disney lot today...
Gentle readers: If you, like me, are an enormous fan of Newsies (either the highly quotable Broadway musical or the original 1992 film that Christian Bale reportedly refuses to acknowledge he starred in), you know that it’s the only Disney musical ever made about child labor and the power of unions and going on strike while pirouetting in a vest and newsboy cap.
So it seems appropriate that on the day an Alan Menken-approved Newsies-themed picket is headed for the Alameda gates outside Disney’s Burbank lot (that would be today from 3-5 p.m. PT), SAG-AFTRA is sending out postcards to the tens of thousands of actors in its membership, asking them to vote to authorize a strike. The move, of course, doesn’t mean that an actors strike will actually happen, but a “yes” vote would give the SAG board the right to put a work stoppage on the table when it begins negotiations with the studios on June 7. Notably, the last time SAG went on strike was over two decades ago in 2000.
“For the first time in a very long time, our member leadership stands in solidarity at the negotiating committee and the National Board levels on moving forward with a strike authorization. We must get all our ducks in a row should the need present itself,” said SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher in a statement. “The prospect of a strike is not a first option, but a last resort. As my dad always says, ‘Better to have and not need than to need and not have!’ Therefore, I implore eligible members to follow the leads of both the negotiating committee and the National Board with an unprecedented show of solidarity and make three a charm with an emphatic ‘yes’ for a strike authorization vote!”
With a writers strike well underway and the Directors Guild currently in talks with the AMPTP, the threat of actors walking off set — particularly in this seemingly unprecedented climate of cross-union solidarity in Hollywood — holds significant weight. SAG members have already taken to the WGA picket lines in support of their literary compatriots, and despite Drescher’s controversial comments last week that distanced actors’ concerns from what the writers are fighting for, there’s the Spidey-tingling sense that… momentum is building. I’m told that executives in town are feeling surprise over the unexpected allegiance with writers by even non-Hollywood labor groups (the teachers union got involved in Chicago, for example), and worry that could portend an even longer walkout.
Actors, I would love to hear from you as you mull over a vote. Talk to me: email@example.com.
In other news, upfronts are coming to an end, which means I’m headed back to L.A. today (hence the early Strikegeist digest). NYC writers on the picket lines, I’ve really appreciated your willingness to speak with me. Don’t ever hesitate to hit me up on Twitter or by email with anything you think should be on my radar.
I’ll leave you with this brief chat I had with Borgia and Berlin Station scribe and local strike captain Larry J. Cohen yesterday after the Warner Bros. Discovery upfront at Madison Square Garden.
Today in Strike News
Artificial intelligence is a hot-button issue on the bargaining table for SAG members, but there are upsides to it for actors, too. (The Hollywood Reporter)
The upcoming onslaught of unscripted shows was already headed our way before the writers strike became a reality. Reporter Natalie Jarvey explains. (Vanity Fair)
Diverse writers voice concerns that the strike will set back hard-won opportunities in writers rooms. (Reuters)
Picket Sign of the Day
Spotted in Chicago on Wednesday.
While never in the unions, I have worked in the industry before. I share some of the concerns of the writers. However, I have to say, the demands of the minimum amount of writers in writing rooms will not sit well outside of the coasts. I live in the Midwest and most people I come into contact every day, aren't even aware of the writers strike. The very few that are, seem in agreement that the demands of better pay and a better payment structure for streaming residuals needs to happen. However, of the few people I have spoken with who are aware and trying to keep abreast of the strike, no one has agreed with the demand of having a specific number of writers for a project. Almost every industry in the country has been doing more with less now for over 3 years. The longer this goes on, the less sympathy there is going to be.
That Hollywood Reporter link goes to a story about writers not actors