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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

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Hollywood Writers’ Strike: Actors Join Protest

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The current strike in Hollywood has become more widespread as the actors joined in the agitation by the biggest film industry’s screenwriters. The demand of the agitators, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), include equitable share of profits and better working conditions.

Around 160,000 actors will not work at midnight. This will result in majority of US film and TV productions not functioning. For the evidence, actors Emily Blunt, Matt Damon and Cillian Murphy abandoned the premier of their upcoming movie Christopher Nolan directed Oppenheimer in London on Thursday as the strike was announced that night.

The SAG strike started at midnight Los Angeles time (12:00 MUT). The screenwriters’ protest, including the actors, began on Friday morning (Mauritius time) from the office of Netflix in California, to Paramount, Warner Bros and lastly outside the office of Disney.

The Hollywood union, Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), has been demanding an assurance that the only actors will work and artificial intelligence (AI) and computer-generated faces and voices will not replace them.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), representing these studios, criticized the demands of SAG-AFTRA. It said “a strike is certainly not the outcome we hoped for as studios cannot operate without the performers that bring our TV shows and films to life”. It further added, “The union has regrettably chosen a path that will lead to financial hardship for countless thousands of people who depend on the industry.”

In the context of addressing concerns regarding the use of AI, the AMPTP said it gave a nod for a “groundbreaking proposal” which contains protection of the digital similarity of actors, and has a policy of consent when digital replacement are used in performances, or changes are made. But the SAG’s national executive director and chief negotiator, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland rejected the offer calling it unacceptable.

“They propose that our background performers should be able to be scanned, get paid for one day’s pay, and their company should own that scan of their image, their likeness, and should be able to use it for the rest of eternity,” he said. “If you think that’s a groundbreaking proposal, I suggest you think again.”

SAG’s other demands include that actors get greater base pay and payments for showing films and programmes in which they acted, repeatedly. Tens of thousands of actors joined the strike as they receive less, for portraying short roles, than more famous actors in the same movies

SAG’s president Fran Drescher stated that the strike takes place at a “very seminal moment” for actors in the industry.

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