SAG-AFTRA Strikes On: Inside the Ongoing Negotiations with Major Studios

In the heart of Hollywood, behind closed doors at SAG-AFTRA’s headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, leaders of the actors guild, SAG-AFTRA, and major Hollywood studios are embroiled in crucial negotiations. These talks have garnered significant attention since the 160,000-member performers union initiated a strike in mid-July, and as we approach the 85th day of the strike, it’s evident that the two sides are yet to reach a resolution.

The Ongoing Negotiations

SAG-AFTRA and studios meet for a second day of bargaining - Los Angeles Times

  • Meeting Highlights: Over the past week, representatives from SAG-AFTRA and major studios have engaged in three intense sessions. While sources indicate that these meetings have been productive, there remains a substantial gap between the demands of the performers union and the offers on the table. Negotiations are set to continue, with both parties agreeing to resume talks on Monday.

  • Key Figures: Notable figures present at these negotiations include SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher, who has been vocal in her criticisms of industry leaders. On the other side of the table, top executives from major media companies such as Bob Iger of Walt Disney Co., David Zaslav of Warner Bros. Discovery, Ted Sarandos of Netflix, and Donna Langley of NBCUniversal Studio Group have all participated. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) President Carol Lombardini has also been a crucial presence.

The Motivation Behind the Strike

The strike, which commenced on July 13, was triggered after five weeks of bargaining with AMPTP, representing the major entertainment companies. SAG-AFTRA has outlined several key demands:

  1. Compensation: Seeking greater compensation for performers.

  2. Residuals: Pushing for higher residuals for actors.

  3. AI Concerns: Demanding greater protections against the use of artificial intelligence to replicate a performer’s image and voice.

  4. Streaming Revenue: Requesting a share of revenue generated by streaming services, arguing that the current business model has eroded their residuals income.

  5. Self-Recorded Auditions: Advocating for rules governing self-recorded auditions, asserting that this expense has unfairly shifted to performers and become a costly burden.

Industry-Wide Implications

The ongoing negotiations and the involvement of Hollywood’s top brass signal a collective desire to resolve the strike, which, when combined with the recently settled writers’ strike, has wreaked havoc on the film and TV business. The repercussions have reverberated throughout the industry, with tens of thousands of actors and crew members still out of work.

It’s worth noting that last month, the same top executives played a pivotal role in negotiating a tentative deal with the Writers Guild of America, effectively ending their 148-day strike. Currently, WGA members are voting on whether to ratify the agreement, with the voting period closing on Monday.

The stakes are high for both sides, and the outcome of these negotiations will have far-reaching implications for the entertainment industry. The actors’ strike continues, but the hope remains that a resolution can be reached to bring an end to the ongoing uncertainty.

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