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Sources: SAG-AFTRA, Studios Still 'Far Apart' On Key Issues as Clock Ticks Down
SAG-AFTRA pres Fran Drescher is a 'surprisingly strong' voice in the room, I'm told
Five days left until Hollywood faces a possible double actors-writers strike, and I’m hearing from multiple sources that talks between SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP are still miles apart on most of the key issues — from artificial intelligence to streaming residuals to pension caps — and then some.
Negotiations over this weekend are likely, as the July 12 deadline approaches.
Just a week ago, the actors union and major studios extended their deadline to hammer out a new, three-year TV/theatrical deal from June 30 to the end of this upcoming Wednesday. This means that we’ll soon know whether SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP have come to an acceptable agreement that covers more than 160,000 performers, or whether we’ll be waking up Thursday to an industry that is in the throes of a three-pronged war between the studios, actors and writers.
Despite the oddly cheery video released by SAG-AFTRA pres Fran Drescher and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland just a couple of weekends ago, several sources tell me that Drescher has actually been a vocal advocate in the negotiating room in Sherman Oaks, where a total of 40 to 50 people from both sides (plus a few on Zoom) meet.
“This is an existential negotiation. This is the end of actors,” one person familiar with the negotiations tells me. “She has been an enlightening, surprisingly strong leader of negotiations — not just a celebrity voice.”
She also presents a marked contrast to the more buttoned-up, lawyerly Crabtree-Ireland.
“They’re very different voices and they’re both necessary,” the same person says. “A lot of what we’ve lacked [in the past] is a strong voice from our elected president.”
Some of the issues on the table are holdovers from negotiations past (see: residuals), while others are newly urgent as technological advancements zip along faster than contracts can keep up (see: AI).
The performers union is gearing up for war even as it hopes to avert it, with picket signs and strike shirts in the works, and calls for actors to step up and become local strike captains and picket coordinators if and when the time comes.
“Anything could happen,” says the person familiar with negotiations. “It’s wide open.”
SAG-AFTRA did not respond to a request for comment.
This Week in Strike News
Too hot in New York to strike today. The WGA East canceled all pickets amid an East Coast heatwave. (Deadline)
American Horror Story mega-producer Ryan Murphy has threatened to take legal action against WGA East strike captain and former Law & Order showrunner Warren Leight after Leight tweeted in late June that AHS crew said they would be “blackballed” if they didn’t cross WGA picket lines. (The Hollywood Reporter)
With AI at the forefront of strike negotiations, IATSE has introduced its eight “Core Principles” for how the application of machine learning technologies should be treated. (Deadline)
Once again, no scripted TV projects are filming on location in Los Angeles, a stark contrast from months (and years) prior when dozens were in production. (Deadline)
In New York City, permits issued for filming have continued to drop precipitously, down from 679 in March to just 471 in June. (Deadline)
It’s not just New York and Los Angeles, though: cities like Baton Rouge have been playing a waiting game in anticipation of the strike ending, with producers still displaying interest in filming on location. “The fact that those conversations are still happening gives me hope that people are just gearing up and getting ready for when it’s time,” says Katie Pryor, director of the Baton Rouge Film Commission. “When those conversations stop, I will panic.” (Baton Rouge Business Report)
If you’ve been on the picket lines at all, you likely have bumped into or participated in a themed picket, the process for which has been streamlined to allow them to be easily formed. (The Hollywood Reporter)
WGA members — including negotiating committee members David Goodman, Ashley Gable and Chris Keyser — joined striking Southern California hotel workers over the July 4th weekend to assist in their fight for better wages and working conditions. (NPR)
Picket Sign of the Week
“Babe, what do you think about honeymooning outside the Fox lot for the next 100-plus days?”
Additional reporting by Matthew Frank.