The writers and actors strikes continued Friday with no sign of a speedy resolution, after a week of public back-and-forth did not appear to move the sides closer to an agreement.
A handful of leaders from the Writers Guild of America met with four top CEOs on Tuesday night, leading to a barrage of statements but no further in-the-room negotiations. Meanwhile, there has been no overture to SAG-AFTRA, which has been on strike since July 14.
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“I just feel we’re digging our heels in harder,” said Lang Parker, a SAG-AFTRA member, who was picketing at Fox.
On the writers’ side, there was widespread sentiment that the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers had failed in its bid to divide the union by releasing details of its latest offer. The WGA responded on Thursday that the studios’ proposal does not go far enough in protecting writers from existential threats.
“The writers are solid. We’re rock solid,” said Robin Schiff, who writes on “Emily in Paris,” and is a former WGA West board member. “I think people are disappointed. But I don’t think the mood has shifted, other than people being deflated because the companies weren’t serious.”
Glen Morgan, a writer on “The X-Files,” was picketing at Paramount on Friday.
“I think they believe they can break us,” Morgan said. “It’s just a crazy tactic on their part… I’ve been through this in ’88 and 2007. There’s no going back. It’s like in ‘Apocalypse Now’: It’s victory or death. It’s like there’s no choice.”
Walt Keller, a SAG-AFTRA member, said he had spoken recently to a negotiating committee member who told him there is a “Grand Canyon” between the two sides. He said he has worked three days in the last five months and he is about to lose his union health insurance in September.
“I’m sadly discouraged,” said Keller, who was picketing at Netflix. “I’m concerned that this strike could go on for a very long time.”
Yessi Sanchez, also a SAG-AFTRA member, said that the strike has been a little depressing.
“I really feel it in my belly that I just want to get out there and act,” she said. “I’ve been really missing it, going through it, being depressed but also hopeful you know, that things can change.”
Dermot Mulroney, who was also at Netflix, said that SAG-AFTRA morale is as high as it’s ever been.
“People are showing up,” Mulroney said. “What we’ve known all along is they were trying to dick us over right from the start… After 100, 120 days they come back with their first counteroffer? Shame.”
Jason George, a SAG-AFTRA negotiating committee member, said the union stands ready to resume negotiations with the AMPTP.
“We’re ready anytime they are ready to go back to the table,” said George, who was picketing at Paramount. “And the day after they finish with the WGA, we’ll be back in there I hope — or the day after the WGA’s finished with them — we’ll be back in there trying to set a new path that maybe they can get everybody back to work.”
After a bumpy week, writers and actors turned out for picket lines on a hot August Friday in Los Angeles and New York. That expression of resolve came as word surfaced that the AMPTP has hired a new PR firm, the Washington, D.C.-based Levinson Group, to assist with getting its message out to WGA and SAG-AFTRA members and the many media outlets that are avidly covering Hollywood’s “hot labor summer.” The Hollywood Reporter broke the news of the Levinson Group hire. The AMPTP will continue to be represented at the corporate level by veteran industry communications executives Scott Rowe and Chris Day.
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