It's been easy to forget that a possible Screen Actors Guild strike is looming over Hollywood like a cloud of L.A. smog. We haven't even talked about it in almost a month. But just because no one is paying attention doesn't mean it's gone away. Quite the contrary in fact.
The latest development (really more of a non-development) was on Saturday, when the SAG board backed its negotiators' efforts to gain more control (and money) from web content that features SAG actors.
The guild probably didn't celebrate Tom Hanks urging ratification of the AFTRA contract, either. See, the leadership is urging AFTRA (a sister union; many actors are in both unions) not to ratify, because ratification might make it more difficult for SAG to negotiate. In fact, it's become something of a battle between SAG and AFTRA. Two weeks ago, in fact, SAG falsely claimed Hanks and George Clooney were anti-AFTRA. If there was any lingering doubt, I think Hanks' signature on the email shattered that.
Continuing the downward spiral reported in Thursday's Contract Talks SAG Further, both The Hollywood Reporter and Variety report that talks between the SAG and AMPTP have shut down. AMPTP will now begin negotiations with AFTRA, pushing SAG negotiations to the back burner. AFTRA had been waiting over two weeks for AMPTP to deal with SAG, and will get their chance now that talks with SAG have hit a snag. According to AMPTP, SAG refuses to go along with deals AMPTP made with the WGA, the DGA and the aforementioned AFTRA. If this is beginning to sound like Alphabet Soup On Crack to you, you're not alone. Writing these acronyms makes me feel like I'm on LSD. Now I'm passing my letter-filled hallucinations to you.
Just when you were finally getting used to scripted TV being back on the air and had settled into the blissful comfort of not having your weekend jaunts to the movie theater disrupted too much, news came in today that the talks between the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers and the Screen Actors Guild are not going well. According to The Hollywood Reporter, any chance of SAG and the AMPTP agreeing to a contract by Friday, which had been the fervent hope of industry insiders and casual entertainment consumers alike, are over.
Perhaps the intoxicating knowledge that they're working in a fairly recession-proof industry has gone to the heads of those actors at the top of the Screen Actors Guild hierarchy. It's the only thing that could explain why now, when the economy has reached the "crisis" stage and is in the proverbial crapper, would SAG decide to put a strike authorization to vote. Yes, now. Awesome idea, guys!
It's been awhile since we last told you that nothing had happened in the negotiations between the Screen Actors Guild and the studios. And now we're back to tell you that something is about to happen. We think. On Sunday, the actors union took two major steps forward in the process toward resolution (we hope) or a strike (we fear). First, the SAG board voted to have a federal mediator brought in to try to revive negotiations that stalled in June. SAG's board also has authorized a vote by all members on whether to strike if the mediation doesn't work.
In Ridley Scott's reimagined version of the Robin Hood tale, it's the guy in the green tights who's a bit dodgy. (Perhaps even dodgier than Kevin Costner's accent in Prince of Thieves.) The Sheriff of Nottingham, as played by Russell Crowe, is supposed to be the sympathetic bloke. Even still, the good ol' sheriff didn't have the angels on his side when production on Nottingham was shut down this past weekend. According to The Hollywood Reporter, filming, which was to have begun in mid-August, "has been postponed indefinitely." It's not a tights famine or a dearth of merry men that's holding up things, but the triple threat of a possible SAG strike, lack of cooperation from Mother Nature, and a script rewrite. Such adversaries don't seem terribly exciting, considering the swashbuckling subject matter, but these days they're far more formidable than anything with a bow and arrow.
That sound you just heard was a bunch of fingers crossing and teeth clenching coming from the general direction of Hollywood. That other sound you just heard was all of those same people saying simply, "Oh, shit." The Screen Actors Guild announced on Wednesday that it had set January 2nd as the date to send out its strike authorization ballots to its 120,000 members. The result of the vote will be announced on January 23rd, and if 75% of SAG members vote yes, then Hollywood could face its second major work stoppage in just over a year.