Happy Barbenheimer weekend to all who celebrate! But before we talk about those two films—reviews for both coming today—let’s check in on Hot Strike Summer.
We’re one week into the double SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes, and while picket lines remain active and support rallies are happening across the nation (there was one in Chicago yesterday that drew over 1,000 people), the studios are busy trimming trees, depriving picketers of shade. Absolute cartoon villain sh-t happening here, but the upside is we might actually end up with a hilarious headline along the line of: Universal Fined For Fleecing Firs (I know they’re not fir trees, LET ME HAVE THIS). A major media business ending up under investigation for illegal tree trimming will never not be funny, though I hope the picketers are keeping up with their SPF and protective clothing.
Speaking of support rallies and things picketers need, you can donate to the Entertainment Community Fund here. The Fund provides emergency financial assistance, among other support services, to those working in the entertainment industry. Or you can donate to the Motion Picture Television Fund here, also supplementing support services for those affected by the strike. The WGA and SAG-AFTRA have resources for how to support the strikes, from solidarity pledges to joining pickets to donation drives, while The Snacklist is delivering food and refreshments to picket lines.
Also this week, SAG-AFTRA approved 39 independent productions to go ahead with filming and/or promotion during the strike. There has been some back-and-forth about the waivers, and if it detracts from the effect of the strike, Bob Odenkirk and Ike Barinholtz firmly stated that actors shouldn’t seek to work during the strike.
I understand their point, and agree that someone like Tom Cruise, seeking a waiver to continue promoting Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, shouldn’t do so. That is a film produced and distributed by a struck company, and Cruise, more than the vast majority of actors, has the ability to wait out the strike and make a point to the studios about the value of fair and equitable pay. Big stars associated with big productions coming from big studios should absolutely stand down, they have the power to make the biggest, loudest point of all.
But the approved productions are all from companies that are NOT members of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), so they are not struck companies. For instance, indie darling A24 is going ahead with two productions, respectively starring Anne Hathaway and Micaela Coel, and Paul Rudd and Jenna Ortega. This does not make these A-listers, or A24, scabs. If anything, it could work in the strike’s favor, as A24 was able to meet all of SAG-AFTRA’s requirements for a fairer and more equitable workplace. A24 is valued at $2.5 billion, a literal drop in the bucket of Netflix’s $220 billion valuation. If A24 can make it work with SAG-AFTRA, why can’t Netflix?
Except that they don’t want to, I mean, which is the angle that could be used against AMPTP. Other companies, smaller companies, with less deep pockets, are able to get on with it. Why not you, AMPTP? Except, again, they don’t want to. Suddenly, the actors and writers don’t look like the ones not being “realistic”. They are, after all, over here making deals with anyone willing to negotiate fairly with them, while the studios prune trees.
And finally, thank you to my dad for forcing me to listen to so much pro-union folk music as a kid, such as Woody and Arlo Guthrie. The accidental indoctrination into a staunch pro-labor stance has paid off, as my words are now being quoted directly at Fran Drescher. I am, however, going to have to ask the famous people to stop perceiving me. It’s too much.
Live long and gossip,
Attached - Lupita Nyong'o on strike in New York, Sarah Silverman on strike in LA, and general views of the strike yesterday in Chicago.