“No Contracts, No Peace”: Actors Stage Demonstrations in New York as Strike Threatens to Disrupt Hollywood

‘No contracts, no peace’: Actors stage demonstration in New York

The national board of the SAG-AFTRA union has approved a member walkout, leading to the first dual work stoppage by both actors and writers in 63 years. Negotiators for the union unanimously recommended a strike after talks with studios broke down. The Writers Guild of America has been on strike since early May, with both unions demanding increases in base pay and residuals in the streaming TV era, as well as assurances that their work will not be replaced by artificial intelligence (AI). Both unions are in dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

Former star of The Nanny and the president of SAG-AFTRA, Fran Drescher, described the studios’ responses to the actors’ concerns as “insulting and disrespectful”. A-listers such as George Clooney, Alec Baldwin, Jason Sudeikis, and Susan Sarandon have expressed support for the strike and been seen on the picket line. The cast of Oppenheimer even left a London premiere early to create their picket signs.

Disney CEO Bob Iger criticized the threatened strike action as “very disruptive” and accused writers and actors of having unrealistic expectations. According to Clooney, this strike is an “inflection point” for the industry, and for actors to maintain a living, change is necessary. Among the stars joining the picket line are Susan Sarandon, Jason Sudeikis, Allison Janney, Timothy Olyphant, and Josh Gad. Co-creator of Parks and Recreation, Mike Schur, expressed his support for the strike as well.

Director Christopher Nolan stated that he will not be working on any more films until the strike is resolved. He emphasized the importance of this moment in the working relationship between Hollywood and its employees. The Last of Us co-creator, Craig Mazin, celebrated the Emmy nominations for the show but also expressed mixed emotions due to the strike. He conveyed concern for the crew members who will also suffer as a result of the strike and criticized the companies for their intransigence.

Actor Brian Cox warned that the strike could potentially last until the end of the year and argued that the use of AI in film and television production is a major concern for actors. The strike guidelines issued by SAG-AFTRA ban its members from attending events, including premieres, awards shows, and the upcoming Comic-Con.

The HBO series House of the Dragon will continue filming in the UK this summer despite the strike, as British actors are primarily working under Equity contracts rather than SAG-AFTRA. This means that Equity members are not legally allowed to strike in solidarity with the US union. The impact of the strike on the 75th Emmys is uncertain, with a potential delay in the awards ceremony if the strike persists until September. The Television Academy and Fox, the broadcaster of the Emmys, are reportedly in disagreement over when to postpone the event.

The strike is causing significant disruptions in the industry, with film premieres and fall festivals being affected. It remains to be seen how long the strike will last and what concessions will be made to resolve the disputes between the unions and the studios.