Alissa Wilkinson at Vox:
The Hollywood writers strike marked its one-month anniversary on Friday, with no signs of slowing down. While other guilds in the industry are still on the job — except when they’re blocked by picket lines — the writers may soon get company on those picket lines.
Two other major entertainment guilds, the Directors Guild of America (DGA) and Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA), also entered the summer with looming contract expiration dates. Both groups’ agreements with AMPTP, the trade association that represents the industry’s film and TV production companies, end on June 30. A lot could happen between now and then, but the situation is looking dicey.
All of that means that come July 1, the studios may be facing a double or even triple strike, in effect shutting Hollywood down completely.
The DGA rarely strikes — the last time was in 1987 — and its leadership has not called for a strike authorization vote. But its relations with the AMPTP have been trickier than usual. Negotiations began on May 10, with demands that in part mirror the WGA’s concerns. The main sticking point is wage and residual increases that keep in step with rising costs of living. In particular, lower residuals for shows on streaming services, where the lion’s share of entertainment now lives, have wreaked havoc for many people in the industry, drastically reducing compensation and making it increasingly difficult to just pay the bills.
In the past, the DGA has sometimes managed to make an agreement with AMPTP ahead of the start of bargaining, effectively setting a pattern for the WGA and SAG-AFTRA to follow in their own demands. Last November, the DGA sent a “pre-negotiation” offer to the AMPTP, seeking resolution ahead of bargaining. The AMPTP reportedly rejected the DGA’s proposal, meaning both parties came to the bargaining table without an arrangement.
The situation seemed to intensify due to an unforced error. On May 23, Warner Bros. Discovery launched Max, its newly rebranded streaming platform, which had previously been named HBO Max. Eagle-eyed observers noticed that in listed credits, the platform lumped writers, directors, producers, and so on into one category labeled “creators.” Aside from the queasy implications that the greatest works of cinema and television were just “content,” the choice on the company’s part ran afoul of hard-fought contract regulations regarding credits for artists.
It was a weird choice, and one that set blood boiling in Hollywood. The presidents of the WGA and the DGA issued a rare joint statement, with DGA president Lesli Linka Glatter noting that “The devaluation of the individual contributions of artists is a disturbing trend and the DGA will not stand for it. We intend on taking the strongest possible actions, in solidarity with the WGA, to ensure every artist receives the individual credit they deserve.”
By the end of the day, Warner Bros. Discovery announced that it would modify how credits were listed on the platform in compliance with its preexisting contract agreement with the unions. Yet the strong language indicated that the DGA was ready to play hardball.
Meanwhile, members of SAG-AFTRA have been vocally supportive of the WGA. This is no shock, since on top of the same issue of residuals and wages, the union — which includes, in addition to film and TV actors, people who work in radio, singers, voice actors, influencers, models, and other media professionals — is concerned about the existential threat posed by AI and other technologies. Even before the WGA’s strike began, SAG-AFTRA issued statements regarding how the use of AI could eliminate or greatly reduce work for its members.
Members of SAG-AFTRA have shown up on picket lines to support the writers, and the star power posed by some of its most prominent members helps bring attention to the WGA’s strike. It’s also an effort to remind the studios that when their own negotiations begin, they’re ready for a fight. Underlining that implicit statement, the leadership of SAG-AFTRA unanimously agreed to ask its membership for a strike authorization vote, which concludes this coming Monday, June 5. That’s a move designed to signal solidarity to the AMPTP ahead of negotiations.
Here’s what’s most significant about all of this: All three unions have never gone on strike at the same time, in the history of Hollywood. The fact that this scenario is possible, even likely, emphasizes how extraordinary this moment is in the entertainment business.
Hollywood could be on the verge of a triple strike that could effectively shut down everything completely. The WGA strike is ongoing, but the SAG-AFTRA and/or the Directors Guild could also launch their own strikes.
they had dog T-shirts on sale for $1
I’m not sure if my favorite part is how much of a muppet he is, like you can see how much of him is just floof
or the thousand-yard stare, like he knows how ridiculous he looks and is just resigned to me laughing really hard