Hollywood is preparing for impending doom! The Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers’ contract expires on Monday. Studios are packing up their projects and tv shows are scrambling to finish shoots. Although there is no indication that a strike will definitely happen, everyone is bracing for the worst. “I don’t think the writers’ strike was good for anybody,” said Teri Weinberg, an executive vice president at NBC Entertainment who oversees current programming and development.
It remains unclear whether there will be an actors’ strike at all. The first indication is expected around July 8, when members of the smaller of the two major actors’ unions, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, known as Aftra, completes a vote on whether to ratify a new contract with the producers alliance.
Roughly 44,000 of Aftra’s 70,000 members also belong to SAG, which has about 120,000 members. So the Aftra vote is being viewed as a strong indicator of whether SAG members will support a strike. SAG itself has not yet asked its members to authorize a strike in case its negotiations fail.
SAG’s leadership is lobbying Aftra members to reject the contract offer because the larger union says it does not offer enough in minimum wages for major television series roles and does not secure adequate payments for the digital use of actors’ work. SAG is also seeking new rules on product placement and an increase in allowance for gas and travel costs.
The actors’ unions have already provided exemptions to dozens of independent film projects that do not rely on the major studios for financing or distribution, allowing them to continue production in case of a strike.
Coincidentally, an aftereffect of the writers’ strike, which ended in February, is what allowed television producers to begin production earlier than usual this spring on many returning programs, thus putting them in a better position to withstand a possible short walkout by actors.