The union representing more than 160,000 television and film actors announced today that its members are on strike after negotiations with major Hollywood studios over a new contract collapsed.
It is the first time in 63 years that both actors and screenwriters, who went on strike in May, are participating in a walkout at the same time. The double action will effectively bring the industry to a standstill.
“I don’t think Hollywood is ready for this,” my colleague Nicole Sperling, who covers entertainment, told me, noting that studio officials were caught off guard by the actors’ determination. “Hollywood was already about 80 percent shut down, but any production that faltered will now shut down and upcoming projects will be severely hampered.”
The two sides are divided on a range of issues, including pay and the use of artificial intelligence. The actors’ union says it is trying to ensure a living wage for its members and protect them from having their likenesses used in productions they did not participate in. The studios argue that this is a difficult time for an industry upended by streaming services.
Nicole told me she’s hearing very little agreement between the unions and the studios, with vitriol becoming increasingly common on both sides.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if this goes through the rest of summer,” Nicole said. “It will be painful if it does — not only for the writers and actors, but also for the studios.”
For more: Here’s how the strike could affect what you watch.
The first over-the-counter birth control pill
The FDA has approved a birth control pill sold without a prescription for the first time in the United States. The drug, Opill, is expected to hit store shelves next year and will become the most effective method of birth control available over the counter – more effective. than condoms, spermicides or other methods.
The approval was supported by many medical experts and associations, who anticipate that it will significantly expand access to contraception across the country. The pill is expected to be especially useful for young women, teenagers and those who find it difficult to deal with the time, costs or logistical hurdles involved in visiting a doctor to get a prescription.
Here’s how the pill works and what its side effects are.
Turmoil engulfed Russia’s military
In the three weeks following the failed uprising by Yevgeny Prigozhin and his Wagner troops, recriminations reverberated through Russia’s military ranks. Just last night, a fired general released a video in which he said his troops “were hit in the back by our commander-in-chief, who treacherously and callously decapitated our army at the most difficult and tense moment.” He said his removal was revenge for speaking the truth about battlefield problems.
The Wall Street Journal reported that at least 13 senior Russian officers were detained for questioning in the days after the uprising, as well as about 15 who were suspended from duty or fired.
This summer’s heat is proving to be deadly
Hot weather is nothing new in places like south Texas, where summer temperatures regularly climb well past 100 degrees. But the wave of punishing heat and sweltering humidity that began last month presents deadly new dangers. In the city of Laredo, 10 people have died over the last month from heat-related illnesses — a sign that the eventual death toll from this year’s heat waves could be high.
In Phoenix, which also experiences extreme heat, my colleague said that walking felt “like being on the edge of death”.
The realization led Netflix to create shows and movies that resonate with the audience of a single market, instead of programs that appeal to all 190 countries where the service is available. It’s a bet that a compelling story somewhere is compelling everywhere, no matter the language.
Therapy where the clothes sometimes come off
Unlike traditional therapists, who are taught to hold clients at arm’s length, surrogate partner therapists also use physical touch. As one practitioner put it, a surrogate partner “enters into a temporary relationship” with a client on an intimate level.
That’s because surrogate partners specialize in helping people who, for some reason, are less comfortable with sex. Some clients are adult virgins who have severe anxiety; others have recently undergone gender transition and are looking for help getting used to their new bodies.
The martini lost his mind
The question “What’s in a martini?” it seems like it should have a simple answer. A traditional dirty martini, for example, is a cocktail of gin, vermouth, olive brine and garnish. But these days, it seems a martini can be almost anything.
Not only are people swapping gin for vodka — which first became popular decades ago — but bars across the country have slapped the “martini” label on any drink served straight in a V-shaped glass. As a result, we are left with the chicken soup martini (with broth and MSG instead of brine), the Caprese martini (with basil and olive oil), and cocktails washed down with sushi rice or splashed with squid ink.