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Actors Join Writers on the Picket Lines as SAG-AFTRA Goes on Strike Too

Actors have joined writers on the picket lines and have successfully shut down Hollywood productions for the first time in decades.


The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has been on strike for 77 days. On July 14th, the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), the labor union representing approximately 160,000 performers and media professionals, joined the writers union.


When the negotiating committee disagreed with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), representing major film and television studios like Walt Disney, Sony, Amazon, Apple, NBC, Netflix, Paramount, and Warner Bros, when their contract expired on June 30th, their vote to strike was put into action.


The last time SAG-AFTRA went on strike was in 1980. With both writers and actors on strike, this creates Hollywood's first industrywide shutdown in 63 years.


Similar to writers, actors are fighting for increased residuals from streaming services.


Because it's easy to assume that working actors are making millions, people are wondering why they're asking for more money. However, only a few big names continuously collect sizable checks while others work to make ends meet like everyone else. Actors from various tv shows have flooded social media with accurate representations of their residuals. Sean Gunn, for example, starred as Kirk in Gilmore Girls, which is heavily streamed on Netflix, but he says he hasn't received any residuals from it. Many other actors presented that they make literal cents from multiple residual payments from their roles in popular tv shows.


Actors are also fighting for the regulation of AI.


Although writers striking against AI is primarily a preventative measure since AI written content still sounds computer generated, actors striking against AI use is defensive. Deep fake technology already exists and can be indistinguishable from real people. Actors fear companies could pay lesser-known actors and use their likenesses without paying celebrity prices. There was a proposal where companies suggested paying background actors for one day and then owning their likeness in perpetuity. They could use their likeness for years to come without having to pay for it.


So what does the strike mean for actors?


While on strike, actors are prohibited from auditioning, performing in any way, or promoting their work, including interviews, red carpets, podcasts, and social media posts. Social media influencers are asked to complete their contracts but not to take on any more projects or appearances.


The immediate effects of the strike can already be seen in movie premieres. The cast of Oppenheimer, including Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Cillian Murphy, and Florence Pugh, left the London premiere early. Although some premieres were canceled due to the strike, Disney still went through with their red carpet premiere for The Haunted Mansion, with costumed actors from their theme parks and contractually obligated social media influencers in attendance.


Meanwhile, production for highly anticipated movies like Deadpool 3, the live-action Lilo & Stitch, and Beetlejuice 2 have been halted. Many tv shows were already paused due to the writer'swriter's strike, and networks are responding by expanding their unscripted content to fill in their fall schedules.


According to Deadline, executives aim to wait until writers are broke and practically homeless to restart negotiations. During an interview at the so-called "summer camp for billionaires," Disney CEO, Bob Iger, said that the strike demands are "unrealistic" and "disruptive," making it clear that executives are not yet willing to cooperate and negotiate with the labor unions.


Unfortunately, with both unions on strike, there is concern about the financial well-being of other workers in the entertainment industry that make movies and tv shows happen, such as editors, set decorators, makeup artists, costume designers, and more. With both parties unwilling to budge, it's unclear how long the strikes will last, but it'll likely go on until fall, if not nearly Christmas. But no one knows for sure.

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