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Hollywood actors extend contract talks, temporarily averting strike

Published Jun 30, 2023 06:24AM ET Updated Jul 01, 2023 12:15PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Members of SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America walk the picket line outside Paramount Studios in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 7, 2023 REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -Hollywood's actors union and major Hollywood studios agreed on Friday to keep negotiating through mid-July, staving off the immediate threat of a second labor strike in the entertainment business this summer.

The SAG-AFTRA union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) said they would extend their current contract, which had been set to expire at midnight, through July 12.

The agreement gives the two sides more time to work out a deal and prevent a work stoppage that would have added to ongoing labor strife in Hollywood. Members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) walked off the job on May 2, forcing many film and TV productions to shut down.

A-list stars including Jennifer Lawrence and Meryl Streep, in a letter to union leadership this week, said they were ready to walk off the job if negotiators failed to reach a "transformative deal" on higher base pay and safeguards around use of artificial intelligence (AI).

The letter came days after union negotiators issued a video saying their talks had been "extremely productive," a possible sign that a deal was within reach.

In a message to members on Friday, SAG-AFTRA's negotiators they had unanimously agreed to the contract extension "in order to exhaust every opportunity to achieve the righteous contract we all demand and deserve."

"No one should mistake this extension for weakness," they said.

SAG-AFTRA voted in early June to give its leaders the authority to call a work stoppage if talks were to break down.

Negotiations were taking place during a difficult time for Hollywood studios. Conglomerates are under pressure from Wall Street to make their streaming services profitable after pumping billions of dollars into programming to attract subscribers.

The rise of streaming has eroded television ad revenue as traditional TV audiences shrink.

The walkout by 11,500 writers has shut down a wide swath of TV production and delayed the filming of movies including Marvel's "Thunderbolts" and "Blade." Any ongoing filming would have to halt if actors also strike.

Leaders of SAG-AFTRA, which represents 160,000 actors, and the WGA say the entertainment industry has changed dramatically with the rise of streaming television and the emergence of technology such as generative AI, which they fear could be used to write scripts or create digital actors.

The AMPTP, which negotiates on behalf of the studios, has declined to comment about its talks with SAG-AFTRA. The two sides have agreed to keep negotiating without discussing the talks with the media, according to a joint statement on Friday.

With the writers, the AMPTP said it had offered "generous" pay increases but could not agree to all of the writers' demands. The studios and the WGA have not held talks since the writers' strike began on May 2.

The WGA walkout is hitting caterers, prop suppliers and other small businesses that generate a large portion of their income from Hollywood productions. The last writers' strike in 2007 and 2008 cost the California economy an estimated $2.1 billion.

Hollywood actors extend contract talks, temporarily averting strike
 

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Comments (7)
Ivan Hoover
Ivan Hoover Jul 01, 2023 10:02PM ET
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the world would be a better place without corrupt movies shut Hollywood down
Ethel Basset
Ethel Basset Jul 01, 2023 9:06PM ET
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NEVER HOLLYWOOD! Spend your money elsewhere.
Mark Jannetty
Mark Jannetty Jul 01, 2023 8:56PM ET
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go on strike. hope they are all fired.
Chad Richer Than You
Chad Richer Than You Jul 01, 2023 5:04PM ET
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AI will take every single one of their jobs away. Writers are losers
Jay Garrelts
Jay Garrelts Jul 01, 2023 5:50AM ET
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Inflation is not going to be effecting these folks but for you that’s another story lol
IceIce Baby
IceIceBaby Jul 01, 2023 5:25AM ET
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Don't worry, AI is coming with lots of story ideas. :)
Roger Miller
Roger Miller Jun 30, 2023 8:57PM ET
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Hollywood is in decline thanks to independent content creators, and these unions are naively hastening it.
 
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