The head of the American Actors Guild, Fran Drescher, confirmed, in an interview with Agence France-Presse, that the studios negotiated with the union in an unfair way to gain time and promote its upcoming films in the summer, in anticipation of the expected strike decision.
“We were deceived,” said the star of the 1990s “The Nanny” series, noting, after announcing the start of the historic strike in Hollywood, that she felt “disappointed.”
And she explained that representatives of studios and broadcasting platforms “remained behind the scenes and did not hesitate to cancel meetings with us,” adding, “They may have done so to gain more time to promote their upcoming films in the summer.”
The strike would paralyze the production of series and films in the United States after this sector was already affected by the strike that the screenwriters have been carrying out since last May. Hollywood has not witnessed a similar double protest movement since 1960.
According to the strike, the 160,000 members of the union, who are actors and workers in the film and television fields, refrain from participating in any form of promoting work, whether in premieres, festivals, or through communication sites.
“The eyes of the world and, particularly, the eyes of labor are upon us,” Fran Drescher, the president of SAG-AFTRA, said. Leaders of the Hollywood union representing 160,000 television and movie actors, voted to strike on Thursday, joining screenwriters. https://t.co/601CRHlMCI pic.twitter.com/E0Iq6ELAQ1— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 13, 2023
This would cause the promotion of films expected to be suspended in the summer, including Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer”.
Before the union made its decision to strike, it had agreed to extend negotiations with Hollywood studios for ten days, within a deadline that expired last Wednesday evening.
This deadline was used to promote films, including “Barbie” and “Mission Impossible”, which benefited from the presence of stars including Tom Cruise, Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling.
“Maybe I acted naively, but this is the first time I’ve ever been involved in negotiations,” Drescher said, adding, “Greed is the root of all the misfortunes in the world, and this is the best example of that.”
“I thought we could reach a convergence of views, and they would see to what extent this new business model was imposed on the whole field,” she added, referring to streaming platforms.
Specifically, they denounce the low wages they receive for each rerun of a movie or series. These amounts are large for re-broadcasting a television work because it is based on advertisements, while it is very low when it comes to re-broadcasting work via streaming platforms that do not provide figures on the number of views.
“That they don’t want to sit down with us and tell us, ‘We have to stand by you respectfully so you can carry on with the changes that are happening’ is just crazy,” Drescher said.
The second main point in the negotiations is the issue of artificial intelligence, which is increasingly being used in Hollywood, as Disney used it, for example, to compose the opening credits for the series “Secret Envision”.
Actors are seeking guarantees that artificial intelligence programs will not be used either to write scripts for works or to reproduce their voices and images.
“We will automatically be replaced by artificial intelligence,” Drescher said, adding, “We will continue to be marginalized and I call on everyone to wake up.”
And the Alliance of Film and Television Producers, which represents studios and broadcasting platforms, announced last Thursday that it had proposed historic salary increases … and submitted a revolutionary proposal on artificial intelligence that protects the digital image of actors.
In a statement, the union expressed its regret that it had chosen to resort to “a step that will cause thousands of people to suffer financial difficulties.”
Disney president Bob Iger criticized CNBC for what he called the “unrealistic” demands.
Despite Drescher’s frustration with the studios, she stressed that “the union’s doors will remain open to continue negotiations.”
“The strike does not represent the end, it is just an escalator step,” she added, adding, “We would like to continue negotiating with them. But the ball is now in their court.”