Hollywood actors could join screenwriters by going on strike as soon as midnight Wednesday night/Thursday morning Pacific Time.
SAG-AFTRA is prepared to follow the Writers Guild of America to the picket line if they cannot reach an agreement with major studios through negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers by the end of Wednesday night.
The issues on the table? Better wages, higher residual payments, and safeguards around the use of artificial intelligence — the same issues that are at stake for the WGA.
If the actors do go on strike — which a letter signed by SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher along with 1,000 other actors says they are prepared to do, according to Deadline — it would mark the first time since 1960 that writers and actors have gone on strike at the same time. The last time the actors went on a major strike was for three months in 1980, and the last time the writers went on strike was 15 years ago.
The writers’ strike that has gone on since May, and the potential actor strike, are rooted largely in the growing role of streaming, which has disrupted traditional models of employing Hollywood creatives. The days of 22-episode TV seasons and reliable residuals have largely gone away, replaced by limited series and smaller writer’s rooms.
Artificial intelligence could also affect the livelihood of screenwriters and potentially replace acting jobs if studios used actors’ likenesses on A.I. generated bodies — a concept illustrated in the recent Black Mirror episode Joan Is Awful.
If both the writers and the actors strike at the same time, Hollywood would be effectively shut down, with television networks leaning even harder on reruns and reality television for their fall slates.
Reps for SAG-AFTRA and the WGA did not immediately respond to MovieMaker’s request for comment on Tuesday. The AMPTP declined to comment, citing a press blackout.
The current status of SAG-AFTRA’s negotiations is unclear, but in a June 23 video, Drescher said the negotiations with the AMPTP were “extremely productive.” However, in an appearance on Good Morning America on June 29, Drescher said that the negotiations have been going well “in some areas” but not in others.
“We do have unprecedented support from the union members where, if we feel like we’re not making headway when the contract expires, which is June 30th at 11:59 p.m. [PT], we’re gonna have to strike,” Drescher said.
That June 30th deadline has been extended to tomorrow at midnight Pacific time. If a deal is not reached by then, SAG-AFTRA members will go on strike.
Main Image: SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher and SAG-AFTRA national executive director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland in a video speaking to guild members.