SAG-AFTRA organised a rally yesterday from Netflix Studios to Paramount Studios and it looked like a strong turnout. The reason they did it yesterday is because it marked exactly two months since the union issued the strike on July 13. Since then SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP have not met a single time to negotiate, and they reportedly haven’t even talked about meeting – and it’s not like the actors don’t want to meet to try and come up with a deal; not working is hard on actors and writers, they WANT to get back to work… but the studios are the ones who haven’t been willing to come back to the table.
SAG-AFTRA’s chief negotiator, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, was at TIFF the other day and said that, “It’s all in their control. They could come back tomorrow and make a deal”. And of course by deal, he means a fair deal, a deal that protects the artists instead of prioritising investors and corporate executives. According to Duncan, “We’ll stay on strike as long as it takes to achieve a fair deal. We hope it’s not that long. There’s no reason these strikes should go past the end of this month. But the companies’ intransigence is determining that”.
So it doesn’t look like the strike is ending any time soon and could extend into 2024. Over the course of TIFF I’ve spoken to some people who are trying to remain optimistic that they could figure it all out this fall but if they’re not even talking to each other, this seems increasingly unlikely. Which means the unions and their members have to maintain their resolve.
And yesterday’s rally was a good sign of that, which newly re-elected union president Fran Drescher pointed out in her remarks yesterday:
(WATCH) SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher speaks to demonstrators at the SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles local solidarity march and rally today pic.twitter.com/lBuUFfTRpl— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) September 13, 2023
It was indeed a really good turnout featuring the biggest star of the summer, Barbie herself. Margot Robbie was on the picket line yesterday and, of course, in her SAG over-sized t-shirt, the pictures have been seen around the world and across social media. That’s the whole point.
Over the last couple of months we’ve been talking about SAG’s celebrity strategy – which stars they’re engaging to be on the front lines and which ones are more effective behind the scenes. Margot is a big deal, especially since the release of the Barbie movie, the movie that’s been breaking all kinds of records, the movie that’s made SO much money for Warner Bros, money that would be impossible without the creative efforts of the artists.
As we get deeper and deeper into this labour action, then, is Margot’s presence just the beginning of an escalation of star power on the picket lines?
Here are Kal Penn and John Cho on stage yesterday at the rally, speaking passionately…and entertainingly! “We got the munchies for a fair deal!”
(WATCH) Kal Penn and John Cho speak to demonstrators at the SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles local solidarity march and rally today pic.twitter.com/u6jkHuocR2— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) September 13, 2023
And finally, Jessica Chastain was at TIFF this week and our ETALK anchor Tyrone Edwards asked her about the interim agreement. I like her analogy:
Jessica Chastain promoted her film at TIFF amid the actors strike - she explains why thatâ€™s a good thing. ðŸŽ¥ Chastain breaks down the SAG-AFTRA strike in baseball terms. âš¾ï¸ #JessicaChastain #ActorsStrike #TIFF #SAGAFTRA #interview #redcarpet #WritersStrike #entertainmentnewsâ™¬ original sound - etalk