Hollywood strike - live: Disney’s Bob Iger calls demands ‘unrealistic’ as actors set to join writers’ action

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Negotiators for Hollywood’s actors’ union unanimously recommended a strike after talks with studios broke down, setting the stage for performers to join writers on picket lines as early as today, disrupting TV and movie production across the US.

The national board of Hollywood’s largest union, SAG-AFTRA, will vote on a strike order on Thursday morning. If approved, Hollywood studios would face their first dual work stoppage in 63 years.

The 160,000 members would join a walkout by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) as both demand increases in base pay and residuals in the streaming TV era plus assurances that their work will not be replaced by artificial intelligence (AI).

The WGA, representing 11,500 screenwriters, has been on strike since 2 May. Both unions are in dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

Fran Drescher, former star of The Nanny and the president of SAG-AFTRA, said studios’ responses to the actors’ concerns had been “insulting and disrespectful”.

Meanwhile, Disney CEO Bob Iger has condemned the threatened strike action as “very disruptive” at the “worst time” as well as calling the expectations of writers and actors “just not realistic”.

Key points

Deadline for Hollywood actors negotiations with studio passes

17:12 , Oliver O'Connell

A deadline for Hollywood actors to reach a deal with studios and streaming services passed Thursday without word on whether a strike will be called.

The Screen Actors Guild -American Federation of Television and Radio Artists had set a deadline for 11:59 p.m. Wednesday — mere hours after this year’s Emmy nominations were announced — for a deal to be reached. Just after midnight Thursday, no update had been announced.

If the actors strike, they will formally join screenwriters on the picket lines outside studios and filming locations in a bid to get better terms from studios and streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon. It would be the first time since 1960 that the two guilds are on strike at the same time.

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Deadline for Hollywood actors negotiations with studio passes with no word on strike

Read full statement from SAG-AFTRA leadership

17:30 , Oliver O'Connell

The leadership of the actors’ union SAG-AFTRA released the following statement late on Wednesday night.

Dear Member,

After more than four weeks of negotiations, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) — the entity that represents major studios and streamers, including Amazon, Apple, Disney, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount, Sony, and Warner Bros Discovery — remains unwilling to offer a fair deal on the key issues that you told us are important to you. Because of this, we’ve called for a meeting with our National Board this morning to vote on a strike order.

From the time negotiations began on June 7, the members of our Negotiating Committee and our staff team have spent many long days, weekends and holidays working to achieve a deal that protects you, the working actors and performers on whom this industry relies. As you know, over the past decade, your compensation has been severely eroded by the rise of the streaming ecosystem. Furthermore, artificial intelligence poses an existential threat to creative professions, and all actors and performers deserve contract language that protects them from having their identity and talent exploited without consent and pay. Despite our team’s dedication to advocating on your behalf, the AMPTP has refused to acknowledge that enormous shifts in the industry and economy have had a detrimental impact on those who perform labor for the studios.

Though we’ve engaged in negotiations in good faith and remained eager to reach a deal that sufficiently addressed performer concerns, the AMPTP’s responses to our proposals have not been adequate.

We will update you immediately after the National Board’s vote and information will be provided on how the strike impacts your ability to work. Details on picket times and locations will be provided as well. Please check your inbox.

Our ninety-year history is a testament to what can be achieved through our conviction and unity. For the future of our profession, we stand together.

In unity,

Fran DrescherPresident

Duncan Crabtree-IrelandNational Executive Director & Chief Negotiator

SAG-AFTRA press conference scheduled for 12 noon pT

17:36 , Oliver O'Connell

The union will hold a press conference today, Thursday 13 July, at 12 noon Pacific Time at SAG-AFTRA Plaza in Los Angeles, following the conclusion of the National Board vote.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)