Dear Gossips,

Oppenheimer’s UK premiere was yesterday in London, and as Lainey mentioned, they moved the start time up in order to officially begin before the SAG strike was called. That’s a shady as hell move, but the New York premiere is now cancelled, so this was Universal trying to get in one last splashy press event before the movie opens next week. 


And it mostly worked, as the cast walked the red carpet only to then walk out of the premiere screening to “write their picket signs”, per Christopher Nolan.

Speaking of the Oppenheimer red carpet, though, when the strike was called I said not to fall for the propaganda, and a piece of that propaganda was in action yesterday. Industry trade Deadline interviewed Matt Damon on the red carpet and posted a clip online. The accompanying tweet copy made it sound like Damon was lamenting the disruption of the strike and was against it. The original tweet has since been deleted, but you can see it here, along with the added context from readers.

Deadline's original tweet

And here is Damon’s actual soundbite, in which, yes, he mentions productions being shut down, but in the context of it being a hard reality for a necessary action. He talks about how the SAG contract is the difference between having healthcare or not for thousands of actors, and that they need to “hold strong to get a deal that’s fair for working actors”. Deadline ended up deleting everything and reposting the clip with the proper context after getting read for filth by everyone including, I’m assuming, a representative of Matt Damon, who is famously pro-union and could not possibly have appreciated being deliberately misrepresented like that.

(I actually miss controversial Deadline founder Nikki Finke, who passed away in 2022. She was a complicated and polarizing figure, but she would never have allowed Deadline to turn into a pro-management bootlicking factory as it has done these last few months. Though, they’re hardly alone in that, the trades, most of which are owned by Jay Penske, are largely on the side of the studios. Penske also owns Dick Clark Productions and the Golden Globes.)


Damon’s comment actually echoes the fiery speech delivered by SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher yesterday after the strike was called. Nanny Fine was on fire, calling out AMPTP, alternately comparing the situation to “rearranging furniture on the Titanic” and storming the gates of Versailles. She said, “The jig is up!” and in her sensible shoes and picket-ready athleisure, she MEANT it. Seriously, though, Drescher knows how to project a specific image, and yesterday she both looked like someone who had been up all night negotiating and was ready to storm out and start marching. Very smart presentation.

But her speech really is something, you can watch it here:



And her comments during the press conference afterward are equally impassioned. You can feel how she genuinely feels slighted and insulted by the process of negotiating with AMPTP. Only two things really stand out to me as surprising. One is about the twelve-day extension for negotiating. Drescher seemed surprised that the studios just wanted to promote their summer movies but like…didn’t we know that? I really thought that was obvious, that the extension wasn’t about finalizing a deal but making sure that Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, Barbie, and Oppenheimer finished, or nearly finished, their high-profile press tours. I’m surprised she was surprised, but maybe it speaks to how sincere Drescher is, and how she was truly approaching every moment in good faith to arrive at a deal and avert a strike.

The second thing is Duncan Crabtree-Ireland’s comment about the AI portion of AMPTP’s proposed deal. Crabtree-Ireland is the National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator of SAG-AFTRA, and while AMPTP calls their offer “historic”, he spells it out—they want to pay background performers a day rate, which ranges from $187 to $243 per day, scan their faces and bodies, and store that scan in a virtual library, to be used by studios indefinitely, in any context, without paying any further fees or licensing. An actor could work one day, get $200, then never be paid again even as their likeness goes on to appear in thousands of productions. 


That’s the nightmare scenario right there, it’s literally the plot of the Black Mirror episode “Joan Is Awful”. Background acting, which includes acting as a stand-in or photo double, is how many aspiring actors get their foot in the door. It’s a means of making ends meet (barely) in between higher-paying gigs. And that AI proposal would basically eliminate that entire rung off the career ladder. No wonder Fran Drescher is so pissed off.

So, in case you thought the double strike would be over soon, it won’t be. AMPTP wants an endless digital library of faces to use however they please for no money, and SAG-AFTRA wants to preserve jobs for human beings who have bills to pay and families to feed. Buckle up, it’s going to be a long strike.

Live long and gossip,