SAG-AFTRA actors union extends contract deadline with studios until July 12; avoiding strike for now

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Saturday, July 1, 2023
SAG-AFTRA members may join WGA on picket lines after midnight deadline
The nearly 160,000 TV and film actors that make up SAG-AFTRA could soon be joining the WGA on the picket lines as the union's contract is set to expire at midnight on Friday

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The SAG-AFTRA actors union has agreed with Hollywood studios to extend their contract to July 12 as the two sides continue to negotiate.

If a deal had not been reached by the original deadline, which was 11:59 p.m. PDT Friday, the union representing 160,000 TV and film actors could have joined the WGA on strike for the holiday weekend.

In an email to its members, the SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher and the rest of the negotiating team wrote, in part: "We have been in negotiations with the AMPTP for more than three weeks under an unusually tight negotiating schedule while fighting for a comprehensive and inclusive contract.

"In order to exhaust every opportunity to achieve the righteous contract we all demand and deserve, after thorough deliberation it was unanimously decided to allow additional time to negotiate by extending the contract until 11:59 p.m. PT on July 12, 2023."

The SAG-AFTRA has been in talks with negotiators from studios since June 7, and some of the key issues include the costs of self-taping, minimum pay increases, the use of artificial intelligence and streaming residuals.

"We are not trying to hold anybody up for money.this isn't the wild west where we are coming in with their guns loaded, it's a matter of keeping up with the technology," said Randy West, a SAG-AFTRA member for 42 years. "If we don't get a contract on streaming that represents what America is watching, we will be behind the times again."

If a deal isn't reached, many actors have said they could strike, which could delay countless movie and TV projects even longer.

If a deal isn't reached between SAG-AFTRA and Hollywood studios, there could be another strike in the entertainment industry.

Many projects have already paused production for two months amid the ongoing writers' strike, which is stuck on some of the same issues. Mainly, the use of artificial intelligence and residuals from streaming projects.

On Thursday, some actors joined writers on the picket lines.

"They better watch out. If the actors go out with the writers this industry will be shut down," actress Jane Fonda said during Thursday's rally outside the Netflix building in Hollywood. "And we will stand together and hold firm until we all get justice, fairness and respect."

The SAG-AFTRA board has the power to call a strike as soon as Saturday if an agreement isn't reached. There's a chance negotiations could be extended.

"We've heard there is talks of bringing in an extension of the talks, to go past the Independence Day holiday," said Dominic Patten, the senior editor of Deadline Hollywood. "But come July 5, if the writers and actors are both on strike, all tools are down."

The reality of the picket lines is being felt by many, including Hollywood's stars.

Comedian Jay Leno said his planned game show has been canceled due to the strike.

"I have a game show we lost because of this strike. We didn't have to be a union show, but the 'Tonight Show,' I was a union person, and I'm in the writer's guild, so I said, 'Lets make our show a union show.' So, of course, we go on strike and close the whole year," Leno said.