Hollywood At War With Itself

Photo by Pedro Marroquin on Unsplash

In a show of unity and perseverance, screenwriters and actors, engaged in a strike, were mentally prepared for a protracted face-off with studios in both New York and Los Angeles.

Strikers stressed the collaboration between the writers, who have been on strike for over two months, and the performers, who are only into their second day of the strike. This unity also extended to the bond between top-earning actors and those who are barely making ends meet despite their appearances on screen.

Kevin Bacon, a familiar figure on the picket lines outside Viacom’s New York office, highlighted the importance of recognizing that not all actors earn massive salaries, with many trying to earn a living as working-class professionals.

Whitney Morgan Cox, a working actor who has made appearances on the CBS show “Criminal Minds,” acknowledged the power of seeing writers and actors, who usually don’t work concurrently in production, rallying together. Speaking outside Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, Cox emphasized the dedication, energy, and tenacity of the striking professionals, making it a robust community.

On the previous Thursday, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) leadership voted to start striking the day after their contract ended. They joined the Writers Guild of America, who had begun their strike on May 2.

As both a writer and an actor, Paul Scheer, now picketing outside Netflix’s Hollywood office, expressed the sense of renewed vigor brought by the joining of SAG members. Though participating in the strike in both his roles meant more effort on his part, Scheer committed to the cause.

High temperatures in New York and even higher ones in parts of Los Angeles on Monday resulted in some afternoon pickets being cancelled due to the intense heat. A union rally was scheduled later in the day in Atlanta, a city that has attracted many productions in recent years due to tax benefits and lower costs.

The issue was brought up in Washington, with White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responding to a query during a briefing about the Biden administration’s stance on the goals of the striking entertainment workers. She expressed hope for a resolution and a mutually beneficial agreement for both actors and writers as soon as possible.

Despite the hope for a resolution, the expectations for an imminent agreement were low, considering the significant gap between the unions and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which negotiates on behalf of studios, streamers, and production companies. Currently, there are no negotiations planned.

Critical points for both unions involve residual payments, which have been significantly reduced by the shift to streaming platforms, and the uncompensated use of their work and likeness by AI avatars.

Bacon pointed out his ability to negotiate for these issues, but stressed his participation in the strike was for the working and middle class members of the union who need these fundamental provisions in the basic contract.