Why It Matters: A second strike could shut down Hollywood entirely.
Hollywood is already 80 percent closed since the writers went on strike on May 2nd. While some TV shows and movies have continued filming, the writers have been surprisingly effective in shutting down shows in production. If the actors join them on the picket lines, productions will be completely shut down, a reality that will have a significant impact on the local economies in Los Angeles and other filming locations such as Atlanta and New York. During the last writers’ strike 15 years ago, the Los Angeles economy lost an estimated $2.1 billion.
The effects of a double strike will also soon be coming to your TV, with network programs in reruns and a likely proliferation of reality TV. Also, actors would no longer be able to promote new movies, a reality that already exists to a large extent because the writers’ strike forced the late-night shows to go dark.
Background: Streaming and AI are bringing change.
Since Ronald Reagan was the president of the Screen Actors Guild, the writers and actors have not gone on strike at the same time. Then, the actors argued over residuals paid for licensing films for television. Today, the actors want to secure higher salaries and better residuals in an entertainment landscape in which studios are struggling to make a profit after investing billions of dollars in streaming. The actors are also concerned about how their likenesses could be used with the advent of artificial intelligence.
Guild members authorized the strike in early June, with 97.9 percent of members voting yes. Then on June 24, Fran Drescher, the president of SAG-AFTRA, and Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the guild’s national executive director, informed its membership that they “remained optimistic” about the talks. They added that the negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the trade association negotiating for the studios, have been “extremely productive.”
Video prompted a group of more than 1,000 actors, including Ms. Drescher, to sign a letter urging union leadership not to settle for a lesser deal. “We are ready to strike,” the letter said.
On June 30, the union announced it had extended its contract through Wednesday while the sides continued to negotiate.
What’s next: Could a deal still happen?
After the parties negotiated all weekend, it remained unclear whether they were any closer to a resolution. If they fail to strike a deal by midnight Pacific time on Wednesday, some 160,000 SAG-AFTRA members will be poised to join the 11,000 writers already on the picket line.