Hollywood Stars Go on Strike: Celebrities Walk Off the Job Bringing TV and Movie Production to a Historic Halt

Hollywood, CA - June 29: Actress and activist Jane Fonda, center in dark jacket, and her &
Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Hollywood stars will walk off the job en masse Thursday night after the screen actors’ union SAG-AFTRA failed to reach a new contract with studios, effectively bringing scripted TV and movie production around the country to a screeching halt.

The actors’ work stoppage comes as Hollywood writers are in the third month of their own strike, creating a highly unusual situation in the entertainment industry that could jeopardize thousands of jobs and wreak havoc on local economies stretching from California to Georgia.

SAG-AFTRA’s strike declaration Thursday followed the union’s last-ditch effort to reach a compromise by agreeing to allow federal mediators into the talks. But union leaders still failed to make headway on issues including increased compensation in the age of digital streaming entertainment and guarantees that actors won’t be replaced by artificial intelligence technology.

Union leaders said in a statement Thursday that studios remain “unwilling to offer a fair deal on the key issues that are essential to SAG-AFTRA members.”

The group representing the studios — the AMPTP — said it was “deeply disappointed” by the failure to reach a deal.

The specter of two simultaneous, prolonged strikes is potentially catastrophic for Hollywood, especially for traditional TV, which is still the bread and butter for legacy studios. The strikes are almost certain to hasten the medium’s slow but certain demise as the lack of new content will cause more people to cut the cord.

Streaming services could also be hit hard, since streaming requires a constant pipeline of new content to satisfy subscribers’ bottomless viewing appetites. But streamers also have libraries of old but popular movies and TV series that can sustain them through the strikes.

For Hollywood, the two strikes are sure to compound the economic woes of the major studios, which are in the midst of laying off thousands of employees in the face of a weak economy. Runaway inflation caused by President Joe Biden’s economic policies has forced households to cut back on spending, leading to companies to spend less on advertising and thus hurting the bottom lines of media outlets across the board.

The Walt Disney Co. is in the process of laying off 7000 workers worldwide, while layoffs have also hit Netflix, Paramount, and Warner Bros. Discovery.

The writers strike has also led to layoffs at Hollywood talent agencies, which normally rely on commissions and fees from production deals. But with many studios refusing to greenlight projects amid all of the labor uncertainty, talent agencies are finding themselves with little to do.

The SAG-AFTRA strike impacts all screen actors, ranging from millionaire A-list celebrities — Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, and Ben Stiller were among the earliest stars to support the walkout — to the extras who appear in commercials. The guild represents an estimated 160,000 actors as well as broadcast journalists.

Studio movies in production that are likely to shut down include Paramount’s Gladiator sequel, directed by Ridley Scott, and Warner Bros.’ Juror #2, directed by Clint Eastwood.

Even promotional activities for upcoming movies could feel the impact of the strike.

Stars involved in Barbie, Oppenheimer, and the latest Mission: Impossible sequel face the possibility of being muzzled due to union rules.

SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher — the star of the 90s sitcom the The Nanny — said in a statement  that the union “negotiated in good faith,” but “the AMPTP’s responses to the union’s most important proposals have been insulting and disrespectful of our massive contributions to this industry.”

In the days leading up to the strike, more than 1,000 actors signed  a letter to SAG-AFTRA leadership saying they were “prepared to strike” if the guild doesn’t “get all the way there” during talks with the studios, according to a Deadline report.

Drescher was reportedly among the signatories.

Their demands include improved compensation, especially when it comes to streaming, as well as assurances surrounding the use of artificial intelligence technology.

Follow David Ng on Twitter @HeyItsDavidNg. Have a tip? Contact me at dng@breitbart.com


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