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Hollywood actors, screenwriters set to embark on strike

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Hollywood actors, screenwriters set to embark on strike

Hollywood actors are preparing to strike after last-ditch talks between their union and streaming giants broke down around a major deadline.

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) has agreed to one extension of talks with major studios.

However, the union has been unable to agree a deal over issues around pay residuals and the use of artificial intelligence, BBC reported.

From Thursday, its members are expected to join screenwriters on picket lines.

Writers have been striking for several months, outside the studios of major streamers including Disney, Netflix and Paramount, over pay and work conditions.

Now, the negotiating committee of SAG-AFTRA – the union which represents 160,000 actors and performers – has voted unanimously to recommend strike action to its board.

It had been seeking a fairer split of streaming profits and a guarantee that AI will not be used to replace duties performed by actors.

“We are not confident that the employers have any intention of bargaining toward an agreement,” the committee said after Wednesday’s midnight deadline passed.

“Time is running out,” it warned.

The mega-strike that could take down Hollywood

The guild’s president, Fran Drescher, accused streaming companies of refusing “to meaningfully engage on some topics and on others completely stonewalled us”.

The group representing the studios, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) said it was “disappointed” by the collapse of negotiations.

“This is the union’s choice, not ours,” the AMPTP said in a statement.

“In doing so, it has dismissed our offer of historic pay and residual increases, substantially higher caps on pension and health contributions, audition protections, shortened series option periods, a ground-breaking AI proposal that protects actors’ digital likenesses, and more.”

Hollywood has not seen a “double strike” of actors and writers since 1960, and the joint move would see almost all US film and TV productions grind to a halt.

The strike could also extend to the UK and other countries where members of the acting union are active on film sets.

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It would also prevent A-listers from promoting some of the year’s biggest releases.

US publication Variety has reported that Thursday’s London premiere of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer has been brought forward by an hour so that stars such as Robert Downey Jr, Emily Blunt and Matt Damon can walk the red carpet before any potential walk-out.

A strike could rule them out of the film’s big US premiere in New York on Monday and beyond, while other major film and TV events like next week’s annual Comic-Con event in San Diego could also be scaled down.

But top actors have already made it clear that they are willing to strike to support their colleagues. In June, a letter from A-listers including Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence urged the union not to settle for a mediocre deal.

Speaking at the Barbie movie premiere, its star Margot Robbie told Pop Culture Journalist Natalie Jamieson: “I’m obviously on board and part of SAG and I’m definitely in support of all unions so I hope everyone reaches an agreement they’re happy with.”

Also on Wednesday, Hollywood unions representing directors and crews issued a statement of “unwavering support and solidarity” with the actors.

The AMPTP has reportedly called in federal mediators to help resolve the deadlock.

 

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