Actors' union officials recommend strike after contracts expired
A deadline for Hollywood actors to reach a deal with studios and streaming services passed Thursday without word on whether a strike would be called, and their union's negotiating board then voted unanimously to recommend a walkout, the union said.
The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists had set a deadline of 11:59 p.m. PDT Wednesday, when their contracts expired, for a deal to be reached.
But the time came and went without a deal and SAG said its negotiating committee then voted unanimously to recommend that the SAG national board call a strike. The board is slated to vote on that Thursday morning, SAG said.
If the actors strike, they would formally join screenwriters on 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.
Members of the Writers Guild of America have been on strike since early May, slowing production on film and television series on both coasts and in productions centers like Atlanta.
Issues in negotiations include the unregulated use of artificial intelligence and effects on residual pay brought on by the streaming ecosystem that has emerged in recent years.
Actors, including SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher, have joined writers on picket lines for weeks in solidarity. An actors strike would prevent performers from working on sets or promoting their projects.
Whether the cast of Christopher Nolan's film "Oppenheimer" attends Thursday's London premiere hangs in the balance of whether the actors strike.
Attending a photo event on Wednesday, star Matt Damon said that while everyone was hoping a strike could be averted, many actors need a fair contract to survive.
"We ought to protect the people who are kind of on the margins," Damon told The Associated Press. "And 26,000 bucks a year is what you have to make to get your health insurance. And there are a lot of people whose residual payments are what carry them across that threshold. And if those residual payments dry up, so does their health care. And that's absolutely unacceptable. We can't have that. So, we got to figure out something that is fair."
The looming strike has cast a shadow over the upcoming 75th Emmys. Nominations were announced Wednesday, and the strike was on the mind of many nominees.
"People are standing up and saying, 'This doesn't really work, and people need to be paid fairly,'" Oscar-winner Jessica Chastain, who was nominated for her first Emmy Award on Wednesday for playing Tammy Wynette in "George & Tammy," told the AP. "It is very clear that there are certain streamers that have really kind of changed the way we work and the way that we have worked, and the contracts really haven't caught up to the innovation that's happened."