As we learned after a summer of strikes, actors are not supposed to promote struck work, which is any project, film or television, produced and/or distributed by one of the 32 companies belonging to AMPTP. But as we saw earlier this week when Bradley Cooper attended a New York Film Festival screening of his film, Maestro, which is struck work as it is a Netflix film, there are some loopholes. Coop didn’t walk the red carpet, appear on stage, or make any remarks, he was just there as a regular ole audience member like everyone else. This didn’t stop one of the film’s producers from drawing attention to him, though, and creating headlines for Maestro (yes, I know I’m part of the problem. I understand irony).
And lo, another loophole has appeared. Emma Stone and Yorgos Lanthimos appeared at a screening of their short film, Bleat, last night at NYFF. They are, of course, the collaborators behind Poor Things, one of the strongest reviewed films out of the fall festivals so far. Emma is assumed to be a lock for a Best Actress nomination at this point, and her co-star, Mark Ruffalo, is a favorite in the highly competitive Best Supporting Actor race. Poor Things is also screening at NYFF.
Bleat, a 30-minute short silent film, has an interim agreement, so Emma is clear to promote the film, and she did apparently say, “Go SAG!” as she went on stage for the Q&A. This is all in bounds, and if it was just this, I wouldn’t blink. I’ve been supportive of the interim agreements and SAG waivers because it demonstrates that productions and promotions CAN go on, as long as everyone is being paid fairly.
But there was a nudge-nudge, wink-wink moment during the Q&A as NYFF artistic director Dennis Lim acknowledged Emma and Yorgos’s “other film” at the festival. You know, the extremely high-profile film everyone immediately knew he was referring to. We’re almost 90 days into the actors’ strike, and frankly, I’m shocked it took them this long to start sidling sideways into appearances. It’s like Coop showing up in the audience of his own film—they’ve found a way to talk about the struck work without actually naming the struck work.
Or maybe, if I’m being generous, this is loophole-adjacent. But I feel like the actors are getting itchy—just like they did during the COVID lockdowns of 2020, this is not a cohort accustomed to being sidelined—and are starting to show up places that skirt the line of promoting struck work. How do you feel about this?