Striking actors join picket lines as Hollywood shuts down
LOS ANGELES - Actors took to picket lines outside Netflix and other studio headquarters in Los Angeles on Friday as movie and television production ground to a halt in the most serious Hollywood strike in decades.
Hundreds of strikers marched with placards at the Netflix building on famed Sunset Boulevard, as well as at HBO, Amazon and Paramount premises, with passing drivers honking their horns in support.
“We’re in this for the long haul, but this is a historic moment,” Vera Cherny, 44, who has had roles in The Americans and For All Mankind, told AFP at the strike.
“It is time for us to lock down the contracts that are going to serve generations of actors to come. Just like they did in 1960.”
Actors joined writers who have been on strike for weeks, triggering the first industry-wide walkout for 63 years and effectively shutting down Hollywood.
The Sag-Aftra (the Screen Actors Guild) formally went on strike at midnight on Thursday after negotiations to reach a new deal with production studios ended without an agreement.
The union’s demands have focused on dwindling pay in the streaming era, and the threat posed by artificial intelligence.
“It’s such a bittersweet feeling because I am so proud today. But I am so sad,” said EJ Arriola, 42, a TV actor protesting outside Netflix.
“You can’t ‘tech bro’ art, but unfortunately, that’s what they’re trying to do,” said Jonathan Bazile, 30. “It’s us fighting to have this as a viable career, not just a gig.”
Writers have already spent 11 weeks on the picket lines, after their similar demands were not met.
Movie studios have begun reshuffling their calendars, and if the strikes drag on, major film releases could be postponed.
The strike prevents actors from promoting some of the year’s biggest movies, at the peak of the summer blockbuster season.
The cast of Universal’s well-reviewed Oppenheimer walked out of their London premiere on Thursday.
“Everybody’s trying to get a fair deal, that’s what’s required, so we’ll support that.”
Sag-Aftra represents actors from A-list stars such as Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence and Glenn Close to day players who take small roles on television series.
The last time the actors’ union went on strike, in 1980, it lasted more than three months.
This time, some 98 per cent of members voted to pre-approve industrial action if a deal was not reached.
The union said actors’ pay has been “severely eroded” by streaming and has warned that artificial intelligence poses “an existential threat.”
But the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) said it had offered large pay raises and a “groundbreaking” AI proposal to actors.
While the writers’ strike had already dramatically reduced the number of movies and shows in production, an actors’ walkout shutters almost all projects. - AFP