Los Angeles, Jul 13 (EFE).- Thousands of Hollywood actors are going on strike following failed negotiations with major film and television studios on a new contract.
The national board of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, (SAG-AFTRA) voted unanimously Thursday to join the Writers Guild of America (on strike since May) on the picket lines.
The simultaneous strike by writers and actors essentially brings film and television productions in the United States to a halt for the first time in 63 years.
“This is a very seminal hour for us. I went in thinking that we would be able to avert a strike. The gravity of this move is not lost on me,” SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said.
“It’s a very serious thing that impacts thousands, if not millions of people all across this country and around the world. Not only members of this union, but people who work in other industries that service the people that work in this industry.”
The decision had received the preliminary approval of 98 percent of that labor union’s members and was made official after Thursday’s meeting of its national board.
A day earlier, the SAG-AFTRA had agreed to an 11th-hour proposal by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) to enlist federal mediators to help broker a deal.
But the union had refused to extend the deadline for reaching a new contract beyond midnight Wednesday, when the old deal was set to expire.
On Thursday morning, Drescher, an actress best known for her role in the 1990s sitcom “The Nanny,” said in a statement that the AMPTP’s response to their petitions had been “insulting.”
She added that the actors, despite their goodwill, had been “dwindled and marginalized and disrespected and dishonored.”
“The entire business model has been changed by streaming, digital, AI. This is a moment of history that is a moment of truth. If we don’t stand tall right now, we are all going to be in trouble,” Drescher said.
“We are all going to be in jeopardy of being replaced by machines and big business, who cares more about Wall Street than you and your family.”
The strike was not a surprise for the industry.
In late June, some members of the SAG-AFTRA, including Oscar winners such as Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence, sent an internal letter to union leaders urging them not to settle for anything less than a “transformative deal.”
The last time that actors went on strike against the major studios was in 1980.
That job action lasted three months and was centered on the profits from home media residuals, including video cassettes and pay television. EFE