Hollywood strikes: Actors and writers united as standoff with studios could last for months

Tuesday, July 18, 2023
Actors, writers united as standoff with studios could last for months
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Actors joined writers on the picket line as striking members of SAG-AFTRA and WGA are bracing for a long standoff with Hollywood studios.

HOLLYWOOD, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Actors joined writers on the picket line Monday as striking members of SAG-AFTRA and WGA are bracing for a long standoff with Hollywood studios.

Strikers on the picket line said it's frustrating, but they will go the distance.

"It's not up to us. We're not going to negotiate against ourselves," WGA member Kristine Huntley said. "It's up to them to come and actually counter our proposals."

Journalist and entertainment attorney Jonathan Handel said in the last major Hollywood strike - when writers picketed for 100 days in 2007 - fear of having to cancel the Oscars was a driving force that pushed studios back to the table.

But this time around the Oscars are eight months away. And the studios and unions, Handel said, are light years away from anything close to an agreement.

"I have a fear that there may be nothing in the current dynamic that will drive the parties back to the table until the Oscars," Handel said.

Handel said the strikes could stretch out for five or six months.

Rep. Adam Schiff and "Atypical" actor Michael Rapaport joined SAG-AFTRA and WGA on the picket lines Monday.

WATCH: Rep. Adam Schiff, Michael Rapaport join SAG-AFTRA picket lines as 1st full week of strike begins

SAG-AFTRA, which represents TV and film actors, went on strike last week after not being able to reach a deal with Hollywood studios before the previous contract expired. WGA, which represents TV and film writers, has been on strike since May.

The actors' strike centers on their pay, which they say has been undercut by streaming and inflation, as well as health benefits, the growing tendency to make performers create video auditions at their own expense and the threat of unregulated use of artificial intelligence.

Writers have been striking for months in a fight for better residuals from streaming services and protections against artificial intelligence.

"All too many people back in the Congress think that everyone who works in this industry is some multi-million celebrity," said Schiff. "When the reality is that most of these folks are just people trying to put bread on the table, keep a roof over their head, provide for their family, work enough so that they can qualify for health insurance. They are hard-working people, and the fight for the workers in this industry is really the same fight all over the country."

Rapaport spoke on the importance of the strike happening now as well.

"We're here, doing what we got to do to make things right with the union. And, its not what we want to do. I'm sure it's not what the opposing side wants to have happen but here we are. It has to happen now because things are not right and not fair and we got to do what we got to do to make things fair," said Rapaport.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass also issued a written statement Monday.

"This is a historic inflection point for our city as our entertainment industry experiences economic pressure and business uncertainty," Bass' statement said in part. "A fair and equitable solution must be reached."

In the meantime, some productions and some actors are already heading back to the set.

SAG-AFTRA has granted a few waivers, allowing actors to continue shooting during the strike like on the series "The Chosen."

Those waivers were only granted to independent productions that are not associated with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, and which also agree to the terms that SAG-AFTRA is seeking from the studios.

Picket lines are expected throughout the offices of major film and TV studios all week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.