Hollywood actors have officially gone on strike following the collapse of talks between their union and film studios in a major blow to the entertainment industry that could paralyze film and television production in the US.
About 65,000 actors represented by the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Actors are leaving the set at midnight Friday, SAG-AFTRA leaders announced Thursday afternoon. This is the first work stop in the industry since 1980.
“Actors deserve a contract that reflects the changes that have taken place in the industry. Unfortunately, the current model devalues our members and affects their ability to make ends meet,” Duncan Crabtree Ireland, the union’s national executive director, told a press conference. .
“What happens to us happens in all forms of work,” SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said at a press conference in Los Angeles to announce the strike. The studios “plead poverty that they are losing money left and right while they are giving away millions to their CEOs. At this very moment, they are on the wrong side of history,” she said.
“Not only is this unfair, but it’s really un-American,” she added. “Share the wealth, because you cannot exist without us.”
The performers join more than 11,000 writers and writers represented by the Writers Guild of America who have been on strike since early May. This is the first time that two major Hollywood unions have gone on strike at the same time since Ronald Reagan was president of the Actors Guild in 1960.
Fear of AI
The SAG-AFTRA talks are about the use of artificial intelligence in films and the impact of streaming services on actors’ residual pay.
“Now actors are facing a real threat to their existence due to the use of AI and generative technologies,” said Crabtree-Ireland.
“They suggested that our background artists could be scanned, get paid in one day, and the company should be able to own this scan, this likeness, for the rest of eternity, for free,” he added.
The Motion Picture and Television Producers Alliance, which represents major studios and streaming services including Paramount, said in a statement that the strike was “the union’s choice, not ours.”
The union “rejected our offer of historic wages and residual raises, significantly higher caps on pension and medical contributions, wiretapping protections, reduced series selection periods, a groundbreaking AI proposal that protects actors’ digital images, and more,” it said in a statement. groups. a statement adding: “SAG-AFTRA has set us on a course that will exacerbate financial hardship for thousands of people who depend on the industry for their livelihoods.”
Disney chief Bob Iger, who recently extended his contract by two years, said the strike would have a “very devastating effect on the entire industry.”
“The level of expectations (SAG-AFTRA and WGA) is just not realistic,” Iger told CNBC Thursday morning.
SAG-AFTRA represents over 160,000 film actors, journalists, announcers, hosts and stuntmen. The strike only affects the 65,000 union actors from TV and film production, who voted overwhelmingly to allow their leaders to go on strike before negotiations begin on June 7.
The Broadway cast said in a statement that they were “in solidarity” with the SAG-AFTRA workers.
The Associated Press provided the report.