Movie and TV stars join picket lines in fight over the future of Hollywood

The actors’ arrival energized the picket lines outside Netflix, where music blared and the sidewalks were packed with demonstrators

SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) members demonstrate with members of the WGA (Writers Guild of America) in front of the Walt Disney studios in Burbank, California, USA, 14 July 2023.ALLISON DINNER (EFE)

“Ted Lasso” star Jason Sudekis and other top movie and TV actors joined picket lines alongside screenwriters Friday on the first full day of a walkout that has become Hollywood’s biggest labor fight in decades.

Sudeikis was among the picketers outside NBC in New York. “Lord of the Rings” star Sean Astin joined chanting protesters outside Netflix’s offices in Hollywood. Also present at Netflix were “Titanic” and “Unforgiven” actor Frances Fisher and “The Nanny” star Fran Drescher, who is president of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

The actors’ arrival energized the picket lines outside Netflix, where music blared and the sidewalks were packed with demonstrators.

Elsewhere, “Once Upon a Time” actor Gennifer Goodwin was among the protesters outside Paramount Pictures.

The walkout is the first double-barreled strike by actors and screenwriters in more than six decades. The dispute immediately shut down production across the entertainment industry after talks for a new contract with studios and streaming services broke down.

The famous faces of Oscar and Emmy winners will likely be seen with some regularity on picket lines in New York and Los Angeles, adding star power to the demonstrations outside studios and corporate offices.

In recent weeks, many actors made a show of solidarity with the 11,500 writers, who walked out in May. Now 65,000 members of the actors’ union have formally joined them on strike.

The two guilds have similar issues with studios and streaming services. They are concerned about contracts keeping up with inflation and about residual payments, which compensate creators and actors for use of their material beyond the original airing, such as in reruns or on streaming services. The unions also want to put up guardrails against the use of artificial intelligence mimicking their work on film and television.

Drescher delivered a fiery rebuke of studios and streaming services when announcing union leaders’ unanimous vote to strike Thursday.

“We are being victimized by a very greedy entity,” Drescher said Thursday. “I am shocked by the way the people that we have been in business with are treating us. I cannot believe it, quite frankly, how far apart we are on so many things. How they plead poverty, that they’re losing money left and right when giving hundreds of millions of dollars to their CEOs.”

No talks are planned, and no end is in sight for the work stoppage. It is the first time both guilds have walked off sets since 1960, when then-actor Ronald Reagan was SAG’s leader.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents employers including Disney, Netflix, Amazon and others, has lamented the walkout, saying it will hurt thousands of workers in industries that support film and television production.

The actors’ strike will affect more than filming. Stars will no longer be allowed to promote their work through red carpet premieres or personal appearances. They cannot campaign for Emmy awards or take part in auditions or rehearsals.

The strike triggered cancellations of red carpet events scheduled for next week for “Special Ops: Lioness,” starring Zoe Saldaña and Nicole Kidman, and Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer.”

A “Haunted Mansion” premiere event at Disneyland on Saturday was set to go on as planned, but with no actors in attendance to promote the film.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said it was clear that the entertainment industry “is at a historic inflection point.” She urged all parties to work around the clock until an agreement is reached.

“This affects all of us and is essential to our overall economy,” Bass said in a statement.

While international shoots technically can continue, the stoppage among U.S.-based writers and performers is likely to have a drag on those, too.

The writers’ strike shut down late-night talk shows and “Saturday Night Live,” as well as several scripted shows that have either had their writers’ rooms or production paused, including “Stranger Things” on Netflix, “Hacks” on Max and “Family Guy” on Fox. Many more are sure to follow them now that performers also have been pulled.


For more on the Hollywood strikes, visit https://apnews.com/hub/hollywood-strikes/

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