The Halt of Hollywood

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has been on strike for over 130 days after negotiations for their new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) fell through on May 1, 2023. The strike was authorized by a reported 97.85% of the guild. This led to protests occurring outside major production studios and headquarters. 

Two and a half months after the Writer’s Strike began, the talents seen on screen joined the fight. On July 13, the SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) union leaders announced their decision to go on strike. 

Similar to the WGA side of the strike, SAG-AFTRA and the studios who belong to the AMPTP failed to agree upon a new contract, ultimately leading to a nearly complete halt of Hollywood. 

Some of the issues at stake include demands for transparency on behalf on streaming services, limitations on the use of artificial intelligence, living wages, and improved working conditions.

While on strike, members of the WGA are prohibited from writing or pitching for any stuck companies. All members of SAG-AFTRA (almost 160,000 TV/movie actors) must no longer conduct any work with the AMPTP. This work can range from (of course) acting, to recording ADRs, getting costumes fitted, or doing promotional material.

On the day marking the beginning of SAG-AFTRA’s strike, union President Fran Drescher (she/her) gave a speech to discuss their plan for the strike as well as the position that she and other SAG-AFTRA members have been put in. 

“We are being victimized by a very greedy entity,” said Drescher. “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. It is disgusting. Shame on them. They stand on the wrong side of history at this very moment.”

The same day, Disney CEO and AMPTP member Bob Iger (he/him) responded in an interview for CNBC, saying, “It will have a very, very damaging affect on the whole business, and unfortunately, there’s huge collateral damage in the industry to people who are supportive services, and I could go on and on. It will affect the economy of different regions, even, because of the sheer size of the business. It’s a shame, it is really a shame.”

While the strike is ongoing and the release of many movies has been delayed as a result, it will be interesting to see how certain events unfold as the upcoming awards season rolls around.

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