Movie and TV stars join picket lines across Hollywood, New York
LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Ted Lasso” star Jason Sudeikis, Rosario Dawson and other top movie and TV actors joined picket lines alongside screenwriters Friday on the first full day of a walkout that has become Hollywood’s biggest labor fight in decades.
A day after the dispute brought production to a standstill across the entertainment industry, Sudeikis was among the picketers outside NBC in New York pressing for progress following the breakdown of contract talks with studios and streaming services. Dawson, star of the film “Rent” and the “Star Wars” TV series “Ahsoka,” joined picketers outside Warner Bros. studios in Burbank, California.
“Lord of the Rings” star Sean Astin marched with chanting protesters outside Netflix’s offices in Hollywood. Also present at Netflix were “Titanic” and “Unforgiven” actor Frances Fisher and “The Nanny” star Fran Drescher, who is president of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
The actors’ arrival energized the picket lines outside Netflix, where music blared and the sidewalks were packed with demonstrators.
Elsewhere, “Once Upon a Time” actor Ginnifer Goodwin stood with protesters at Paramount Pictures.
The famous faces of Oscar and Emmy winners will likely be seen with some regularity on picket lines in New York and Los Angeles, adding star power to the demonstrations outside studios and corporate offices.
The walkout is the first double-barreled strike by actors and screenwriters in more than six decades.
In recent weeks, many actors made a show of solidarity with the 11,500 writers, who walked out in May. On Thursday, 65,000 members of the actors’ union formally joined them on strike.
The two guilds have similar issues with studios and streaming services. They are concerned about contracts keeping up with inflation and about residual payments, which compensate creators and actors for use of their material beyond the original airing, such as in reruns or on streaming services. The unions also want to put up guardrails against the use of artificial intelligence mimicking their work on film and television.
Many on the picket lines took aim at Disney chief executive Bob Iger, who said Wednesday that the damage the strikes will do to the entertainment economy is “a shame.”
“I think that when Bob Iger talks about what a shame it is, he needs to remember that in 1980, CEOs like him made 30 times what their lowest worker was making,” actor Sean Gunn, who starred in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” said outside Netflix.
Now Iger “makes 400 times what his lowest worker is. And I think that’s a shame, Bob. And maybe you should take a look in the mirror and ask yourself, ‘Why is that?’”
No talks are planned, and no end is in sight for the work stoppage. It is the first time both guilds have walked off sets since 1960, when then-actor Ronald Reagan was SAG’s leader.
“What we won in 1960 was our health and pension plans and the existence of residuals. That was the most important strike in LA union history, and now we’re on strike together again, and honestly, this strike is even bigger,” Adam Conover, host of the TV series “Adam Ruins Everything” and member of the Writers Guild negotiating committee, said outside Netflix. “We’re going to win. If you are gaining momentum like we are, 70-odd days into a strike, you are going to win.”
Conover was one of many picketers, including Sudeikis, who are members of both unions.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents employers including Disney, Netflix, Amazon and others, has lamented the walkout, saying it will hurt thousands of workers in industries that support film and television production.
The actors’ strike will affect more than filming. Stars will no longer be allowed to promote their work through red carpet premieres or personal appearances. They cannot campaign for Emmy awards or take part in auditions or rehearsals.
The strike triggered cancellations of red carpet events scheduled for next week for “Special Ops: Lioness,” starring Zoe Saldaña and Nicole Kidman, and Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer.”
A “Haunted Mansion” premiere event at Disneyland on Saturday was set to go on as planned, but with no actors in attendance to promote the film.
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said it was clear that the entertainment industry “is at a historic inflection point.” She urged all parties to work around the clock until an agreement is reached.
“This affects all of us and is essential to our overall economy,” Bass said in a statement.
The writers’ strike had already stopped much of television production, and the actors joining them immediately led to a shooting shutdown for many major films, including “Deadpool 3,” “Gladiator 2” and the eighth installment of Tom Cruise’s “Mission Impossible” series. All are scheduled for release next year.
The writers’ strike also shut down late-night talk shows and “Saturday Night Live,” as well as several scripted shows that have either had their writers’ rooms or production paused, including “Stranger Things” on Netflix, “Hacks” on Max and “Family Guy” on Fox. Many more are sure to follow them now that performers also have been pulled.
Associated Press writer Krysta Fauria contributed.