No progress on resolving actors strike—union negotiator
TORONTO, Canada—Hollywood’s major studios and streamers have made no contract overtures to striking actors since they walked off the job in July, the performers’ chief negotiator said Thursday, Sept. 7, urging the companies to make a good-faith effort.
Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, who negotiates on behalf of the 160,000 movie and television actors who belong to the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA), gave the update on the work stoppage on day one of the Toronto International Film Festival.
In mid-July, actors joined writers on the picket line in the first industry-wide walkout for 63 years over pay and other work conditions, effectively bringing the giant film and television business to a halt.
When asked how talks were going, Crabtree-Ireland said: “The studios have not come back to the table. They have not said that they want to come back to the table. (…) It’s been 56 days.”
The negotiator—who appeared on the red carpet for the premiere of Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Boy and the Heron,” the first major screening at TIFF—said it was “well past time” for some progress to be made.
“I urge them to come back to the table and make a fair deal. That’s the only way these strikes are going to come to an end.”
The walkouts have brought new productions to a halt, but also have put a crimp in this year’s fall film festivals, with many actors eschewing premieres to respect SAG-AFTRA rules barring promotion of projects from the big studios and streamers.
Waivers have been offered in some cases.
Crabtree-Ireland said he came to Toronto “to show our support for film festivals, TIFF in particular,” and to encourage members to champion their work when interim agreements are in place.
“It actually helps our strike effort, it helps the fight that we’re having, for these projects that have signed off on our deal to be promoted and to be successful,” he said.
He said more than 1,200 independent producers had signed off on the deal that the guild proposed to studios on the last day of bargaining, noting: “They realize the terms are reasonable, the terms are absolutely realistic and doable.”
‘Important strike for us’
Patricia Arquette, making her directorial debut in Toronto on Thursday with “Gonzo Girl” starring Willem Dafoe, attended her premiere wearing a giant SAG-AFTRA button.
“We very much support our union, it’s a very important strike for us,” she said on the red carpet.
At the premiere of “North Star,” the first feature directed by Kristin Scott Thomas, producer Finola Dwyer said stars Scarlett Johansson, Sienna Miller, Emily Beecham and Scott Thomas “would have all loved” to be in attendance.
“But they stand firm with their SAG colleagues and friends,” Dwyer said, to applause from the audience.
TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey told AFP that his team had learned a lot about the “really important issues” in the negotiations, including concerns about the encroachment of artificial intelligence into art, and said he hoped a deal would soon be struck.
“I think we all need it–- for the industry and culture of movies,” Bailey said. /ra