“He. Damn. Nanny.” This Is As A Board Member Of The Writers Guild Of America West liz alper effectively summed up how striking union members felt about SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher’s impassioned comments Thursday afternoon when the union formally announced its strike plans after contract talks with studios and the streamers broke up after four weeks of negotiations.
SAG-AFTRA national executive director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, who joined Drescher on the podium at SAG’s Miracle Mile headquarters, said the national board “voted unanimously to issue a strike order” on Thursday for the morning. The 160,000-member artists’ union will join the more than 11,000 members of the WGA on the pickets beginning Friday, marking the first double walkout in Hollywood in more than six decades.
“They have recognized, as have the writers, that the studios have gone out of business and are holding the studios accountable,” said one showrunner. the hollywood reporter after the SAG-AFTRA press conference. “We don’t point out how much money these CEOs make to shame them, even though they should be ashamed. We point this out to show that these companies clearly have money. They just don’t want to give it to writers or actors.”
SAG-AFTRA’s strike order came after talks between the artists’ union and the Film and Television Producers Alliance, which represents studios and broadcasters, ended on July 12 without a new contract. The initial three-year pact was extended from its June 30 expiration, and according to Drescher, the AMPTP “wasted” those additional 12 days. “They stayed behind closed doors and canceled our meetings with them,” said the former star of The babysitter he said from the podium.
“Fran was amazing. The system has been too unfair to too many for too long, and I think it needs to be redone to make it more fair to everyone,” said another showrunner with multiple shows on the air. The actors’ walkout, which will see new Emmy nominees immediately halt all campaigns and could delay the September ceremony, comes on the same day that Disney CEO Bob Iger sparked an outcry among some members of SAG- AFTRA and WGA during an appearance on CNBC in which he said the demands of both unions “were not realistic.”
“The guy demands $45 million a year plus a golden parachute in case he blows everything, and we’re the ones who aren’t realistic? If the studios that make $30 billion a year are struggling, he takes a pay cut, Bob. wrote David Slack, former member of the WGA bargaining committee. “Then #Pay your writers.”
A showrunner with business at Disney joked that Iger was “stealing the crown” from David Zaslav as the studio’s main villain. “He must owe Zaslav a favor,” the showrunner said. (Zaslav, the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, has become one of the syndicate members’ go-to studio villains after a series of decisions that angered creatives, including announced cutbacks at Turner Classic Movies and the demise of streaming service Max content, among other moves designed as part of a multi-billion dollar cost savings push following the merger of the two companies).
“Lest AMPTP conservative rich corporate types think us crazy, liberal artist types are being unreasonable, SAG president during previous actors strike was… (checks notes): *Ronald Reagan*” how I Met Your Mother co-creator Craig Thomas wrote.
On the pickets, many WGA members crowded around cellphones broadcasting the SAG-AFTRA press conference and cheered for Drescher as passersby honked in support. Outside the Disney lot in Burbank, those who remained near the end of the 2 p.m. employees in Los Angeles “So proud of her!” said a WGA picketer outside the Disney headquarters in Burbank, where temperatures topped 90 degrees.
SAG-AFTRA members will join the WGA on the pickets starting Friday. During the strike, artists will not be able to access acting services or advertising, including conventions, festivals, FYC events, premieres, meetings, interviews, and using social media to promote a movie or TV series on a study.
Caroline Renard, strike captain, summed up: “A strike is bound to be disruptive and inconvenient. We are not playing cupcakes on the playground. Without Venice, without TIFF, without press tours, without red carpets, without shows, filming, etc. in the foreseeable future. If the studios think they can do this without writers or actors, then let them.”