Actors and writers strikes enter second week with no signs of a deal to get Hollywood working again

Many on the picket lines have seized upon comments by their corporate bosses like Disney CEO Bob Iger, who last week called the unions' demands “not realistic.”

Updated - July 21, 2023 01:07 pm IST

Published - July 21, 2023 10:24 am IST - LOS ANGELES

The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG–AFTRA) workers and their supporters march and hold a rally to draw attention to their demands in downtown

The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG–AFTRA) workers and their supporters march and hold a rally to draw attention to their demands in downtown | Photo Credit: AFP

The combined strike by Hollywood actors and screenwriters is entering its second week with no sign that a swift ending will be achieved.

For a week, actors including household names like Tina Fey, Kevin Bacon and wife Kyra Sedgwick, Rosario Dawson, David Duchovny and other stars have joined working class performers and writers on picket lines outside studios and corporate offices of streaming giants Amazon, MAX and Netflix.

The actors' regular appearance on picket lines has provided additional star power and voices on issues that are key to both groups — better pay and preserving established practices like residual payments, as well as protection from the use of artificial intelligence. Roughly 65,000 actors — the vast majority of whom don't make enough from acting to qualify for health benefits through their guild — along with 11,500 screenwriters, are on strike.

While many of the picket lines are in Los Angeles and New York, film and television production happens throughout the country. Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago were among the the major cities with strike events Tuesday and Wednesday. Later Friday, actors in London are scheduled to hold an event in solidarity with their Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists brethren.

There's no indication when negotiations with studios and streaming companies, which are represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, will resume. The group has said they've offered both writers and actors substantial pay increases and have tried to meet other demands.

Many on the picket lines have seized upon comments by their corporate bosses like Disney CEO Bob Iger, who last week called the unions' demands “not realistic.”

During an earnings event Wednesday, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said grew up in a union household and knew the strike was painful on workers and their families. “We're super committed to getting to an agreement as soon as possible. One that's equitable and one that enables the unions, the industry and everybody in it to move forward into the future,” he said.

Actor-writer Seth Green said streaming, which became a dominant entertainment outlet during the pandemic, has upended the livelihoods of those striking.

“It all got broken. I mean, it sounds silly to say, but it’s really as simple as that," Green said speaking outside Paramount Studios in Hollywood Thursday. Traditional entertainment contracts used to compensate actors and writers throughout the long lifespan of successful shows and movies. But no longer, he said.

“If the company that owned the thing made a billion dollars, you’d get like a little bit of money from that. All of that is gone,” Green said.

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