The Hollywood classic “On the Waterfront” (1954) ends with unionized laborers on a dock. They are fed up and stand idly by, staring at bloody Marlon Brando. Suddenly, an authoritative man in a smart suit and a nice hat arrives. “We’ve got to get this ship going,” he barks. “It’s costing us money!”

Over the last week, as TV and film actors have gone on strike for the first time in 43 years, joining already prominent screenwriters on strike, Hollywood began to look around for its version of that figure — someone, anyone, to find a solution to the standoff and get America’s film factories running again.

But the more I looked into the entertainment industry, the more it became apparent that such a person may no longer exist.

“Back in the day, it was Lew Wasserman who would get into the talks and move them,” said Jason E. Squire, professor emeritus at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, referring to the super agent turned studio mogul. “Today, it’s different. Traditional studios and the technology companies that have moved to Hollywood have different cultures and business models. There is no studio senior, respected by both sides, to help broker a deal.”

Currently, no negotiations between union leaders and the companies involved are taking place and none have been planned, with each side insisting that the other must make the first move.

Two federal mediators studied the subjects that caused the break in negotiations. Agents and lawyers are engaged in a flurry of back-channel phone conversations, urging union bosses and studio executives to soften their immovable positions; Brian Lourd, the Creative Artists Heavyweight Agency, asked the Biden administration and California Gov. Gavin Newsom to get involved, according to three people briefed on the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the work situation. A spokesman for Mr. Lourd declined to comment.

Emotions must cool before talks resume, said one entertainment lawyer who has been working in the background to bring the sides back together. When does that happen? He said it could be next week or it could be mid-August.

Starting in 1960, the last time both actors and writers went on strike, and continuing into the 1990s, the person who could break the deadlock was the dreaded Wasserman. He commanded the respect of both labor and management and was able to push past the colorful personalities in each camp.

It was an era when the entertainment business, for the most part, was much less complicated. Studios weren’t buried inside conglomerates and beholden to profitable toy divisions, not to mention having to deliver quarterly growth.

Bob Daly, who ran Warner Bros. in the 1980s and ’90s, took up the mantle of Wasserman, who died in 2002. Mr. Daly, who went on to run the Los Angeles Dodgers, said by telephone that he was no longer involved in the Hollywood labor dispute. But he had some advice.

“One thing that bothered me is that it got personal, which I think is a mistake,” Mr. Daly said. “The only way this is going to be resolved is for both sides to get in a room and talk, talk, talk until they find compromises. Neither side is going to get everything it wants. You can scream and scream in that room — I’ve done it myself many times — but don’t come out until you have an agreement.”

The last Hollywood strike took place in 2007 and 2008. The Writers Guild of America walked out on a variety of issues, with compensation for shows distributed online as a major sticking point. It was resolved after 100 days (the current writers’ strike was 81 days old as of Thursday) when Peter Chernin, then president of News Corporation, and Robert A. Iger, Disney’s relatively new chief executive at the time, took a hands-on role in resolving the impasse. Barry M. Meyer, who was president of Warner Bros., and Jeffrey Katzenberg, then the chief executive of DreamWorks Animation, also played roles.

All of those men, with the possible exception of Mr. Chernin, are now busy with other things or considered villains by actors.

Mr. Iger, who returned to run Disney in November after a brief retirement, became a piñata last week after telling CNBC that, while he respected “their right and their desire to get as much as they possibly could,” union leaders were not “realistic.” The background of his interview, a meeting of elite media and technology executives in Sun Valley, Idaho, poured gasoline at the moment.

Mr. Katzenberg largely left the entertainment business in 2020 after the collapse of Quibi, his streaming startup. In April, Mr. Katzenberg was named co-chairman of President Biden’s re-election campaign.

Mr. Meyer retired from Hollywood in 2013 after a celebrated 42 years and went on to sit on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. “I had nothing to do with the negotiations this year,” he said in an email. “That said, it doesn’t stop me from feeling sad about the way things are stuck right now.”

That leaves Mr. Chernin. He left the corporate ranks of Hollywood in 2009 and founded an independent company that includes a film and television production arm – he has a deal with Netflix – and a vast investment portfolio focused on new technology and media companies. In recent days, Mr. Chernin told one senior aide that he had not been approached for help in the strikes, but that it would be difficult for him to say no if asked.

A spokesman for Mr. Chernin declined to comment.

The studios that now have to figure out how to appease actors and writers are very different in size and have divergent priorities. They all say they want to resolve the strikes. But some are more willing than others to compromise and immediately resume talks. The ready camp includes WarnerBros. Discovery, while Disney, which owns Disney+ and Hulu, has taken a harder line, according to two people involved in the negotiations. WarnerBros. Discovery and Disney declined to comment.

Some people in Hollywood have looked to elected officials to help smooth the way, but so far direct involvement, if any, has been unclear. Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass last week called the actors’ strike “an urgent matter that needs to be resolved, and I will work to make that happen.” A spokesperson did not respond to questions about what she specifically does.

Mr. Newsom said in May that he would intervene in the writers’ strike “when called upon by both sides.” He did not comment on the actors’ exit, and a spokesman did not respond to questions.

With two unions on strike, it could take months before new contracts can be negotiated and ratified. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which negotiates on behalf of the major studios, has decided to focus first on resolving differences with SAG-AFTRA, as the actors’ union is known, according to two people involved in the negotiations.

Cameras may not start rolling again until January, given the time it will take to reassemble casts and crews, with the year-end holidays as a complication, executives at WarnerBros. Discovery and other companies told employees this week.

SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America are striking largely because, they say, entertainment companies — led by Netflix — have adopted formulas of unjust compensations for streaming. This was the biggest sticking point at the negotiating table, far more than union demands for guardrails around artificial intelligence, according to three people briefed on the matter. (The companies defended theirs suggested improvements to the contract as “historical.”)

Under the now-expired contracts, streaming services pay royalties (a form of royalty) to actors and writers based on subscriber sums in the United States and Canada. The actors’ union, in particular, explained that a new contract must go back to a version of the old way – with streaming services using payment formulas that are based on the popularity of shows and movies, as traditional TV channels have done for decades, with Nielsen as an independent measuring stick.

Streaming companies refuse to disclose granular audience figures; secrecy is part of the culture of Big Tech. Independent measurement companies, including Nielsen, tried to fill the gap, but they provided only vague information – what generates a lot of views, what doesn’t. No one but the companies knows whether a streaming show like “Stranger Things” is watched by 100 million people worldwide or 50 million.

Netflix signaled on Wednesday that it saw the data it disclosed as sufficient. The company posts weekly top 10 lists on its website; the rankings are based on “engagement,” which Netflix defines as total hours watched divided by runtime.

“We believe that sharing this engagement data regularly helps talent and the broader industry understand what success looks like on Netflix — and we hope that other streamers will become more transparent about engagement on their services over time,” Netflix said in its quarterly letter to shareholders.

John Koblin contributed reporting from New York.

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