Studios Vs. SAG-AFTRA & WGA

Studios Vs. SAG-AFTRA & WGA

For the first time since 1960, the Screen Actors Guild has declared itself in solidarity with the screenwriters who have been on strike against Hollywood studios since May. The twin walkouts have crippled production of most film and television projects and show no signs of early resolution.

Principals on both sides of the picket line have been ramping up the rhetoric, predicting catastrophic results if the issues are not resolved soon.

Barry Diller, the former CEO of Paramount and 20th Century Fox, warned that the industry could face an “absolute collapse” if the strike continues through the fall. He told an interviewer on CBS’s Face the Nation yesterday: “What will happen is, if in fact, it doesn’t get settled until Christmas or so, then next year, there’s not going to be many programs for anybody to watch. So, you’re gonna see subscriptions get pulled, which is going to reduce the revenue of all these movie companies, television companies, the result of which is that there will be no programs … And at just the time, [the] strike is settled that you want to get back up, there won’t be enough money.”

Diller added: “It sounds like I’m crying to the skies but these conditions will potentially produce an absolute collapse of an entire industry.”

Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney, also railed against the strikers, claiming that the expectations of actors and screenwriters were “not realistic.”

On the other side, actor John Cusack roundly criticized the studios’ greed in a Twitter posting. He said he received no cut of the box-office gross for his starring role in the 1989 film Say Anything. “The greed is almost a legendary comic trope,” he tweeted. “One fun fact – when I was a youngin- I did a film (with a boom box) and somehow I got points – net not gross. Never expected to see any money – but the film became quite famous – so about 10 years ago – I looked again at the financial statements they were obligated to report – and to my shock – they claimed they had LOST 44 million dollars on the film.”

Cusack complained that the studios, if left unchecked, would eliminate acting jobs by using artificial intelligence technology, a key point the union is trying to make. He wrote that the studios are running a “criminal enterprise” in its use of AI. As he continued, “Studios wanna have extras work one day, scan them – own their likeness forever – and eliminate them from the business. … Do you think they will stop with extras? That’s what AI is – a giant copyright identity theft.”

And Mark Ruffalo, who starred in 13 Going on 30, also directed his ire against Hollywood “fat cats” who believe actors are no longer of value.

The actors were echoing the comments of SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher, who had earlier declared: “We are the victims here. We are being victimized by a very greedy entity. … I cannot believe it, quite frankly: How far apart we are on so many things. How [the studios] 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.”

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