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Living Hollywood Actors To Get Back To Work, Will Not Be Replaced By Dead Hollywood Actors (For Now)
The SAG-AFTRA strike has ended!
The SAG-AFTRA strike has officially ended, the union and studios announced last night. Actors will be getting back to work after four months, and under much better conditions than they previously were working under.
While we don’t know everything that is in the deal now, we do know a few things. One of the major issues in the strike was streaming residuals, and Variety reports that the studios “offered to award actors a 100% bonus on their standard streaming residual if they appear on one of the most-watched shows on a platform.”
The deal also includes what the studios say is the largest bump in minimum rates in 40 years, believed to be about 6-7 percent. It’s not the 11 percent the actors were asking for, but that’s how negotiations work.
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"We have arrived at a contract that will enable SAG-AFTRA members from every category to build sustainable careers," the union wrote in a message to members.
On Instagram, SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher wrote, “We did it!!!! The Billion+ $ Deal! 3X the last contract! New ground was broke everywhere! Ty sag aftra members for hanging in and holding out for this historic deal! Ty neg comm, strike captains, staff, Duncan & Ray, our lawyers, the IA team, family and friends. Our sister unions for their unrelenting support! And the amptp for hearing us and meeting this moment!”
Just to note, because it actually made me tear up a little — one of the first comments on the post was from Charles Shaughnessy, who played Mr. Sheffield on “The Nanny,” who wrote, “Like I’ve always said: A force of nature! Congratulations to everyone who worked so tirelessly and determinedly to see our professional futures endured. I’m so proud of, but hardly surprised by, our fearless leader.”
We also know that the studios have backed down on some of their creepier AI demands. The major sticking point as of this past Monday was that the studios wanted to be able to scan Schedule F performers — meaning the bigger stars who make well beyond the standard for movies and television shows — and be able to use those images in perpetuity without compensation or consent from the estate. This would be pretty bad for those actors and their families, but also for up-and-coming actors if studios just decide to make movies with dead actors all the time.
It was a weird sticking point, really, because it’s hard to imagine that there would be much of a demand for that outside of a future Forrest Gump remake (which seems unnecessary!). Have they considered whether or not audiences would actually even want this? Because it doesn’t sound terribly appealing. In fact, it sounds like something that would land right in the uncanny valley. Sure, there are a lot of actors we love and whom we would miss terribly if they were gone. That doesn’t mean we want to see their reanimated corpses running through the airport in an uplifting romantic comedy or, ironically, fighting zombies.
To think an AI version of Meryl Streep would be as good as the real thing misses the whole point of why Meryl Streep is Meryl Streep. Actors who are very good are very good at projecting humanity, and that’s why they audiences love them. Their image, the way they look, even their particular voice, is not the point.
Frankly, if they did actually get rid of this nonsense, the studios should be thanking SAG-AFTRA and Fran Drescher for saving them from themselves. Because sure, you know — they could probably make a movie written by robots and performed by the deceased, with a soundtrack written by ChatGPT and sung by the autotuned robot voice of General Michael Flynn (which, sadly, now lives rent-free in my brain). They could, hypothetically do that. But that doesn’t mean people would actually like it, and the fact is, they almost definitely would not.