Hollywood Actors and Writers Stage Simultaneous Strike for Fair Pay in Streaming Age
Hollywood actors were set to join picket lines on Friday, alongside film and television writers, in a simultaneous work stoppage. This dual strike has compelled the shutdown of U.S. productions as workers engage in a battle over pay in the era of streaming TV.
These twin strikes will exacerbate the economic repercussions caused by the ongoing writers' walkout that began on May 2. The multi-billion-dollar industry is already grappling with business changes, and this situation delivers another significant blow. Not since 1960 has Hollywood faced two strikes occurring concurrently.
Both SAG-AFTRA, the largest union representing 160,000 actors in film and television, and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) are demanding higher base pay and residuals, along with guarantees that their work will not be replaced by artificial intelligence (AI).
The actors' union announced on Thursday that its board had unanimously agreed to initiate a strike after failing to reach a satisfactory agreement with major studios such as Walt Disney Co and Netflix Inc. Actors will join picket lines in New York and Los Angeles starting on Friday.
The work stoppage initiated by the WGA has already had a ripple effect, impacting various businesses including caterers and prop suppliers, who rely on Hollywood productions. With the addition of actors joining the picket lines, the economic consequences are expected to expand further.
Fran Drescher, former star of "The Nanny" TV show and president of SAG-AFTRA, criticized the studios' responses to actors' concerns as "insulting and disrespectful." She stated during a news conference on Thursday, "We are the victims here. We are being victimized by a very greedy entity."
Reruns of late-night television talk shows, disruptions to production for the upcoming TV season, and halting work on big-budget movies have been the results of the writers' strike, which involves approximately 11,500 writers.
The actors' walkout will now also lead to the shutdown of remaining U.S.-based film and scripted television productions, as well as hindering overseas shoots.
Many streaming services are still struggling to turn a profit, having invested billions of dollars in programming to attract customers.
Equity, the main entertainment industry union in Britain, expressed support for its U.S. counterpart and revealed that it would address many of the same issues during its own contract negotiations over the next year.
Paul Fleming, General Secretary of Equity, informed Reuters that the Hollywood situation would increasingly impact the global industry, including in Britain if locals were working on projects covered by SAG-AFTRA contracts. He added, "The longer it goes on, the bigger the impact."