Four simultaneous protests occurred in New York City on Friday, the first day of the SAG-AFTRA strike, with the Writers Guild, IATSE, local members of Democratic Socialists of America, and more from other unions joining pickets and similar protests. that happened in Los Angeles.
Amid scorching sun and pouring rain, picketers demonstrated outside the offices of Netflix and Warner Bros. Discovery near Union Square, Amazon and HBO at Hudson Yards, Paramount at Times Square, and NBCUniversal at 30 Rock.
Among the hundreds who picketed New York on Friday were ted lassoby Jason Sudeikis, Survival of the thickest‘s Peppermint and Sagan Chen, num3rs‘David Krumholtz, rooted for lifeby Kevin Corrigan severancee stars Zach Cherry and Jen Tullock, as well as FleeActresses Ariela Barer and Clarissa Thibeaux.
Only on Netflix/WBD, the picketers saw a brief, but early police presence, as officers herded eager actors off parts of the sidewalk and onto the barricades, before the line began playing on a curated playlist with “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge, “We Are Family” by Beyonce. Break My Soul” and Lizzo’s “About Damn Time,” which continued even when the picketers had to don ponchos due to the rain.
The main issues for the actors on Friday’s pickets included fair pay, including streamer waste, as well as the use of artificial intelligence, which rose to some prominence as part of the WGA negotiations and then gained renewed focus on Thursday. as part of SAG. -AFTRA negotiations.
“The issues they won’t even discuss are the most important, and if we don’t solve them now, if we don’t deal with the transmission now, if we don’t deal with the AI now, there won’t be any turning back. We cannot make that mistake,” he said. Thelma and Luisa and Monarch Actress Susan Sarandon, speaking outside the Netflix protest.
“What we’re doing is not even asking for what some might call a fair contract, but something that would, at the very least, allow people to continue trying to be in the arts professionally,” he said. Incredible‘s star Merritt Wever.
Pay was a hot topic for workers at all levels of the field. Speaking from Times Square, where actors and writers circulated in a barricaded area and were supported by tourists and even the neighborhood’s naked cowboy, Chris Henry Coffey, a member of SAG-AFTRA who makes many guest-starring appearances for networks and transmitters, he said. He came on the picket line because he felt as if the contracts had been “going backwards,” even as his career has advanced.
One problem, in his experience, is that the idea of having a contribution or a base salary no longer seems to exist. “I just want to support a new contract. It offends me that I’ve been living on a worse salary in 2023 than when I started acting in 2000,” Coffey said.
Similarly, Gary Farris, who has been a member of SAG-AFTRA since 2008 and has worked primarily as a supporting actor, says he feels that salaries for that role, among many others, have not increased adequately.
“We are the workhorses of the industry,” Farris said. “We work like dogs, and you know, we get paid pretty well, but it didn’t catch inflation at all.”
Outside of Netflix, Wever pointed to the discrepancy in her experiences with the linear and streaming models as a major negotiating issue for her while Chen, who had to get out of line early to attend a second job they took on to support themselves. , she pointed to waste, a sticking point in terms of streamers, as “a big one.”
“What my union did for me decades ago was put in our contract ways that working actors could continue to earn a living, and that’s not in our current contracts with streamers,” Wever said.
Kelly Klein, a member of SAG-AFTRA, said she attended the Hudson Yards picket because she was concerned about the use of AI and also to discuss contract changes in recent years that have resulted in minuscule waste, particularly from streamers. . .
“I get residual checks for pennies,” Klein said. “One time my ATM branch wouldn’t even accept it. I had to go to the ATM to deposit it, because the machine wouldn’t recognize it as money.”
According to Ariela Barer, who had her Marvel show fugitives removed from Disney+ earlier this year, double waste waste and one’s own work is hard.
Background actors were also in the spotlight as part of the negotiations, when Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, chief negotiator for SAG-AFTRA, said on Thursday that the Alliance of Film and Television Producers had presented them with an AI proposal that would make background actors get a day’s pay for getting a digital scan. Studios could use that image from then on, he says.
The AMPTP has since refuted this claim, saying that the claim made today by the actor’s union leadership “that digital replicas of background actors can be used in perpetuity without consent or compensation is false.” Rather, the studies say that a digital replica of a background actor is only allowed as part of a film for which that actor is employed and that use requires the actor’s consent and negotiation for use.
Still, the issue loomed large on the lines Friday, as supporting actors such as Jonathan Kaine, who was picketing the New York offices of HBO and Amazon, spoke about the need for greater protections around supporting players. and the fear that work could be eliminated entirely by AI, in addition to the challenges of working for wages that he says make it “increasingly difficult to earn a living wage in New York City.”
“Our likeness is our lifeblood in this specific case. And giving it away, not knowing what it’s going to be used for a little bit down the line, is crazy, in my opinion,” Kaine said.
“Being able to own my perspective and my story is incredibly important. The fact that they think they can take my face and manipulate it for their own purposes is motivated by capitalism and going back to their vacation home.” Survival of the thickestChen added from outside of Netflix.
While this was the first day of the SAG-AFTRA strike, its members have been a familiar presence on the lines since the WGA began the strike on May 2. Square said the show of support from unions like SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and more has been encouraging. So WGA wanted to return the favor.
“They have been with us the whole time. But as a union, this is your first day of strike. And we just want to let you know that you are not alone in this,” Coker said.
The two unions have many similar issues, Coker said, adding that the AI issue affects not just entertainment unions, but unions across all industries.
“The fact that they think they can take my face and manipulate it for their own goals is motivated by capitalism and going back to their vacation home,” Chen added. “All I want to do is be here and be someone that some random kid in the Midwest watching TV is going to say, ‘Oh, so I can.'”
For How to blow up a pipe Writer Barer, AI’s contract protections are about ensuring the continuity of working-class actors and artists. “I want our likeness to be protected, that we have authority over our image, our body and what we do. What we say in the media and art forever matters,” Barer said.
With the WGA and SAG-AFTRA now on strike, Coker said he hoped the two unions could move forward with the AMPTP, since not having writers or actors on set essentially stalls projects. “I do not know if [it will resolve] at the same time, but we will be able to solve some problems. So if it works for us, it will work for them and vice versa,” he said.
Lauren Patten, Tony Award-winning actress for jagged small pill and a member of SAG-AFTRA, has been supporting the WGA on picket lines and said he feels inter-union solidarity is “at an all time high”. The two issues that most concern Patten in contract negotiations are salary structures around streaming and protections against artificial intelligence.
“I think we are at a tipping point as a country and that is reflected as this huge industry tries to address proper respect for all of our work,” Patten said.
As for what he will be doing during the SAG-AFTRA work stoppage, Patten noted that he can continue to work in the theater, which is under an Actors Equity contract, but most performers are already multidisciplinary and have had to find other ways to make money.
“We are, as actors, people who know how to handle not having a job, it’s a big part of our lives,” Patten said. “And in terms of what to do during the strike, I think we will have a lot of solidarity, a lot of determination and we will be able to practice other ways of doing our art and we will be resilient.”
Hiram Delgado, a member of the SAG who has also appeared on Broadway in ask me out he said he also had plans to return to the theater during the strike and had been able to save money during the pandemic, as he prepared for another Broadway closure or something like this strike. Most of his income comes from film and television work, but given the AI discussions and the current state of contracts, he’s willing to hang in there for the long haul.
“I hope it continues for as long as it takes for us to get the respect we deserve, and I don’t know when that will be,” Delgado said.
For many who walk the line, the studios’ respect for actors is in question following recent comments from Disney’s Bob Iger that the actors’ and writers’ demands were “unrealistic.” According to Barer, who had his Marvel show fugitives removed from Disney+ earlier this year “without notice,” the moves and sentiment from some studios are “devastating.”
“It doesn’t feel good to read those comments, it doesn’t feel good to read that your work is not appreciated,” they said. “I think what we were asking for is incredibly realistic and incredibly important. We are asking for basic respect for our work.”