Hollywood actors to strike after contract talks end without deal

SAG-AFTRA poised to strike
(Image credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images)

SAG-AFTRA, the union representing 160,000 actors, is expected to go on strike as soon as Friday after the actors union and Hollywood studios failed to reach a contract deal before a Wednesday midnight deadline. SAG-AFTRA's negotiating committee voted unanimously to recommend union leaders call a strike when they meet Thursday morning. A solid 98% of actors guild members voted to authorize a strike in early June.

The studios, represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), called in a federal mediator on Wednesday — SAG-AFTRA agreed but called it a "cynical ploy" to extend negotiations — and both sides reportedly remain far apart on issues ranging from residuals for hit shows on streaming services to rules for using artificial intelligence.

This will be the first actors strike since 2000, their first walkout against TV and movie studios since 1980, and the first time since 1960 that Hollywood actors and writers are on strike at the same time. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has been on strike since May 2, and SAG-AFTRA's dual strike will shut down most of the remaining scripted productions, threatening the fall TV lineup and movie schedule. SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP began talks on June 7, then extended them on June 30. The Directors Guild of America agreed to a new contract in June.

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SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher said the actors guild had "negotiated in good faith and was eager to reach a deal that sufficiently addressed performer needs, but the AMPTP's responses to the union's most important proposals have been insulting and disrespectful of our massive contributions to this industry." The AMPTP said it is "deeply disappointed that SAG-AFTRA has decided to walk away from negotiations," blaming the guild for putting the TV and film industry "on a course that will deepen the financial hardship for thousands who depend on the industry for their livelihoods."

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.