July 13, 2023 - Actors will go on strike after contract talks collapse

By Tori B. Powell, Elise Hammond and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 6:32 p.m. ET, July 13, 2023
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4:52 p.m. ET, July 13, 2023

Double Hollywood strikes could cause at least $4 billion in damage, think tank predicts

From CNN’s Natasha Chen

A sign reads 'SAG-AFTRA Supports WGA' as SAG-AFTRA members walk the picket line in solidarity with striking WGA (Writers Guild of America) workers outside Netflix offices on July 13, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. 
A sign reads 'SAG-AFTRA Supports WGA' as SAG-AFTRA members walk the picket line in solidarity with striking WGA (Writers Guild of America) workers outside Netflix offices on July 13, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.  Mario Tama/Getty Images

The potential economic impact of the combined SAG-AFTRA and WGA strike could cause $4 billion or more in damage, especially if the actors are not able to come to terms quickly, according to Kevin Klowden, the chief global strategist for the Milken Institute, an economic think tank.

He said this impact won't be isolated just to the United States. The effects of the strike will spread to other English-speaking locations where American production companies are making movies and TV shows, Klowden said. 

"So London and the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and other places, which either have studios or even do post-production, will face a real impact," he said.

Both the writers union and the actors union striking at the same time means that the labor disputes will be felt nearly universally in the US, Klowden said,

"Up to this point, movies and some shows have been able to film with already-written material. They won’t have any actors to film, as the size of SAG-AFTRA is all-encompassing,” he said.

Studios are much more worried about both the immediate and medium-term impact of an actors’ strike, and the fact that Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers called for federal mediators in these negotiations, but not with the writers, is very telling, according to Klowden.

He added that this also removes the ability of the studios to isolate the writers’ strike as unique, as they aimed to do by settling with the Director’s Guild.

4:26 p.m. ET, July 13, 2023

SAG-AFTRA negotiator says studios' proposal allowed for actors' digital likenesses to be used forever

SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher, left, and SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, center, speak during a press conference announcing a strike by The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists on Thursday, July, 13 in Los Angeles. This marks the first time since 1960 that actors and writers will picket film and television productions at the same time. 
SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher, left, and SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, center, speak during a press conference announcing a strike by The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists on Thursday, July, 13 in Los Angeles. This marks the first time since 1960 that actors and writers will picket film and television productions at the same time.  Chris Pizzello/AP

SAG-AFTRA's negotiator pushed back about an alleged claim made by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) that its proposal would offer protections surrounding the use of AI likeness of actors.

During Thursday's news conference, a reporter asked Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, chief SAG-AFTRA negotiator, about an alleged AMPTP news release that claimed that a "groundbreaking AI proposal" would protect an actor's digital likeness.

Crabtree-Ireland said that proposal would allow background performers' likenesses to be used repeatedly and indefinitely — all while the performers are paid for only one day of work.

"But this groundbreaking AI proposal that they gave us yesterday — in that groundbreaking AI proposal, 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, their image, their likeness, and to be able to use it for the rest of eternity in any project they want with no consent and no compensation. So, if you think that's a groundbreaking proposal, I suggest you think again," he responded.
4:13 p.m. ET, July 13, 2023

Actors union president Fran Drescher says fans "have an allegiance" to the actors on strike

SAG-AFTRA union President Fran Drescher speaks next to Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator, at SAG-AFTRA offices after negotiations ended with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the entity that represents major studios and streamers, including Amazon, Apple, Disney, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount, Sony, and Warner Bros Discovery, in Los Angeles, California, today.
SAG-AFTRA union President Fran Drescher speaks next to Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator, at SAG-AFTRA offices after negotiations ended with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the entity that represents major studios and streamers, including Amazon, Apple, Disney, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount, Sony, and Warner Bros Discovery, in Los Angeles, California, today. Mike Blake/Reuters

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said she believes fans and consumers "have an allegiance" to the actors on strike because of the joy that their content brings.

"We bring entertainment to their lives, and during COVID, they turned to us for everything," she said at a Thursday press conference.

The union represents about 160,000 actors. With their strike, SAG-AFTRA members will now join the more than 11,000 members of the Writers Guild of America, who have been on strike against the same studios since the start of May.

That strike had already halted production of most movies and scripted television programs. There has been no apparent progress in ending the action.

Now, there are concerns that with actors joining the writers on strike, the shutdowns could stretch through the summer and perhaps even persist through the end of the year.

The actors’ strike is expected to bring most of the remaining productions to a halt, with the exception of some independent films not associated with major studios.

4:13 p.m. ET, July 13, 2023

Drescher: "We are all going to be in jeopardy of being replaced by machines"

From CNN's Chris Isidore

Fran Drescher with SAG-AFTRA members at a SAG-AFTRA news conference today.
Fran Drescher with SAG-AFTRA members at a SAG-AFTRA news conference today. CNN

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said that the 160,000 actors who will be on strike starting Friday are fighting for bigger issues, against things like jobs being replaced by artificial intelligence and corporate greed.

"This is a moment of history, a moment of truth. If we don’t stand tall right now, we are all going to be in trouble," she said at Thursday's press conference. "We are all going to be in jeopardy of being replaced by machines and big business, who care more about Wall Street than you and your family."

Drescher said she started negotiations thinking a strike could be avoided, and was shocked by what she said was the corporate greed of management's proposals.

"We are the victims here. We are being victimized by a very greedy entity," she said. "I can not believe about how far apart we are."

It is expected that there will be job losses outside of the film and television industry, especially in Southern California, because of the hit to businesses that support the industry and depending on spending by those in the industry. She said the striking workers' "hearts bleed for them."

"It’s a terrible thing to have to do, but we were forced into it," she said.

And she concluded the press conference saying she expects the general public will support the actors in the strike, and issuing a warning that foretold what could happen if they don't win.

"We are being taken advantage of in a terrible way," she said. "If we let this happen to us, dollars to donuts it going to happen to you and your family, your children and everyone you work with too. That’s how threatening this moment is in our nation’s history."

4:03 p.m. ET, July 13, 2023

Performers won't be out promoting their series ahead of Emmy awards, according to strike rules

An Emmy Trophy, in Los Angeles, California, in September 2021.
An Emmy Trophy, in Los Angeles, California, in September 2021. Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images

On the heels of Emmy nominations this week, fans won't see their favorite actors or actresses promoting any of their nominated or new projects.

That's because the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has voted to go on strike, the union announced Thursday.

"Our strike rules will not allow for any form of promotion for television series, streaming series that have been produced under these contracts. My expectation is that it will bring any actor participation in any campaign into a close," SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said.

This kind of promotion includes things like appearing on the red carpet at movie premieres or doing interviews on podcasts, for example. Of course, the writer's strike brought an immediate halt to new episodes of US late night shows, so the opportunity to do that sort of publicity was already limited.

As for projects that have not been released yet, most remaining production will stop. The exception will be independent movies that are not associated with one of the major studios.

CNN's Chris Isidore contributed reporting to this post.

3:45 p.m. ET, July 13, 2023

"Moving around furniture on the Titanic": Fran Drescher says union won't accept incremental changes

Fran Drescher speaks during a SAG-AFTRA news conference today.
Fran Drescher speaks during a SAG-AFTRA news conference today. CNN

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher emphasized the gravity of the decision for the union, which represents about 160,000 actors, to go on strike at midnight PT Friday morning.

She said the union will not accept changes to the contract that do not match up to the changes happening in the industry.

The union is asking for increased pay and progress on residuals paid for when films or shows are shown again, particularly on streaming services.

"We're not going to keep doing incremental changes on a contract that no longer honors what is happening right now with this business model that was foisted upon us," she said at a news conference Thursday.

"What are we doing? Moving around furniture on the Titanic?" Drescher said. "It's crazy."
3:36 p.m. ET, July 13, 2023

TV and film studios: The union has chosen financial hardship

After 160,000 SAG-AFTRA union members approved a strike Thursday, the TV and film studios lashed out in a statement, saying the union had turned its back on a substantial offer for higher pay and benefits.

"The union has regrettably chosen a path that will lead to financial hardship for countless thousands of people who depend on the industry," the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said in a statement.

The coalition of movie and TV studios said it had offered actors the highest percentage increase in minimums in 35 years, including an increase in residuals and limits on AI usage.

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher pushed back on the AMPTP's characterization of the deal at a news conference.

"It's really egregious and disgusting," Drescher said. "We were really so marginalized, so dishonored, and so disrespected."

3:41 p.m. ET, July 13, 2023

Streaming models and inflation are 2 key factors why actors are going on strike, negotiator says

SAG-AFTRA members preparing picket signs last week.
SAG-AFTRA members preparing picket signs last week. SAG-AFTRA

SAG-AFTRA's chief negotiator noted a number of key factors that have led the union to strike, citing current business models and inflation as reasons why members are having trouble making ends meet.

Actors deserve a contract that reflects the changes in the industry, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA's chief negotiator, said during Thursday's news conference.

"The current streaming model has undercut performers' residual income, and high inflation has further reduced our members' ability to make ends meet," he said.

Crabtree-Ireland also said the cost of self-tape auditions means performers are "bearing casting costs that were once the responsibility of producers. To complicate matters further, actors now face an existential threat to their livelihoods with the rise of generative AI technology."

He said the union has proposed a contract that would address these issues, but the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers "has been uninterested in our proposals."

3:32 p.m. ET, July 13, 2023

"We had no choice": Actors union president Fran Drescher details importance of strike

Fran Drescher speaks during a SAG-AFTRA news conference on July 13.
Fran Drescher speaks during a SAG-AFTRA news conference on July 13. CNN

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher described the importance of the union's decision to strike at a Thursday news conference announcing the strike.

"The gravity of this move is not lost on me or our negotiating committee or our board members who have voted unanimously to proceed with a strike," Drescher said.

She said the strike impacts "thousands, if not millions of people across this country and around the world," including those working in different industries.

"What happens here is important because what's happening to us is happening across all fields of labor," Drescher, who is also the star of the 1990s sitcom “The Nanny,” said.

She added that she initially believed a strike could be averted but said eventually it was clear "we had no choice."

"We are the victims here," she said. "We are being victimized by a very greedy entity."