How Long Will The SAG Strike Last? When Did It Start? Is It Still Going On? – StyleCaster

With Hollywood at a complete standstill and negotiations seemingly going nowhere fast, many people including the actors and writers themselves are wondering how long the SAG strike will last.

On July 13, 2023, Fran Drescher, president of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television (SAG-AFTRA), announced that negotiations between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) had broken down over several issues. SAG-AFTRA, represents 160,000 television and movie actors, while the WGA represents more than 16,000 film, TV, broadcast and news media writers. It’s the first time in 43 years that the SAG-AFTRA has called for a strike since 1980, and it would be the first in 60 years that the WGA and SAG-AFTRA have joined forces.

Much like the writer’s strike, the use of artificial intelligence was also a topic of tension: Actors say they don’t want to be replaced by computer-generated images; they want control over where and how their likenesses are used. To be clear, the strike doesn’t mean they can’t act at all, they just can’t work for companies that are members of the AMPTP—that includes Amazon, Apple, Disney, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount, Sony and Warner Bros. Discovery. They also can’t promote work for said companies. Here’s everything we know about how long the SAG strike will last.

How long will the SAG strike last?

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher speaks during a press conference at the labor union's headquarters in Los Angeles, California, on July 13, 2023.
Fran Drescher. Getty ImagesPhoto by Chris Delmas / AFP

How long will the SAG strike last? Drescher is “financially prepared” for it to last beyond six months if required. “I don’t have a crystal ball,” Drescher said on TODAY when asked how long she expects the strike to continue. “We have financially prepared ourselves for the next six months. And we’re really in it to win it.”

Indeed, Deadline reported that some of Hollywood’s biggest earners have donated up to $1 million each to support fellow performers who are currently out of work, resulting in more than $15 million total. Among the high-profile donors were George and Amal Clooney, Luciana and Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Hugh Jackman and Deborra-lee Furness, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck, Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively, Julia Roberts, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Meryl Streep, and Oprah Winfrey.

According to Variety in an article published on August 3, 2023, negotiations hadn’t resumed between the unions and the studios, but Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said he was projecting an “early September” end to the strikes and return to TV and film production. “Thanks to the support of some of Hollywood’s top-earning stars, the Foundation is preparing to bring aid and hope to thousands of journeymen actors facing tremendous economic hardship,” the foundation said in a release on August 4, 2023.

“We’re in the business of storytelling. Our goal is to tell great stories, stories with the power to entertain and, when we’re at our best, inspire with stories that come to life on screens big and small,” he said on the call with analysts, per the industry publication. “We cannot do any of that without the entirety of the creative community, the great creative community. Without the writers, directors, editors, producers, actors, the whole below-the-line crew. Our job is to enable and empower them to do their best work. We’re hopeful that all sides will get back to the negotiating room soon and that these strikes get resolved in a way that the writers and actors feel they are fairly compensated and their efforts and contributions are fully valued.”

Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds
Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds. Getty Images

In 1960, a dispute between the WGA and the Alliance of Television Film Producers resulted in a strike lasting 148 days, from January 16 to June 12, 1960, and ended with improved rights and pensions for scriptwriters, as well as five percent of their net income from television-airing movies released before 1960. During this time, the SAG participated in multiple strikes halting eight major productions including Elizabeth Taylor’s Butterfield 8, Gina Lollobrigida’s Go Naked in the World, Jack Lemmon’s The Wackiest Ship in the Army and Marilyn Monroe’s Let’s Make Love.

When did the actor’s and writer’s strikes start?

The writers’ strike, an ongoing dispute between the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the AMPTP has been holding much of production at a standstill since May 2, 2023, and is the largest disruption to American film and television since the COVID-19 pandemic.

They are protesting pay cuts, pay disparity, and the use of AI tools like ChatGPT as a replacement for writers rather than being used for research and facilitating script ideas. In solidarity, the actors union, Screen Actors Guild, joined their writer compatriots on July 14, 2023. With this amalgamation of unions, it represents the biggest industry walkout in 40 years, bringing the $134 billion American movie and television business to a halt.

Fran Drescher’s SAG speech

Here is Fran Drescher’s SAG speech in full, said during a press conference on July 13, 2023.

“It’s really important that this negotiation be covered because the eyes of the world and particularly the eyes of labor are upon us. What happens here is important because what’s happening to us is happening across all fields of labor, by means of when employers make Wall St and greed their priority, and they forget about the essential contributors that make the machine run. We have a problem. And we are experiencing that, right? At this moment, this is a very seminal hour for us. I went in in earnest thinking that we would be able to avert a strike. The gravity of this move is not lost on me or our negotiating committee, or our board members who have voted unanimously to proceed with a strike. It’s a very serious thing that impacts thousands, if not millions of people all across this country and around the world. Not only members of this union, but people who work in other industries, that service, the people that work in this industry, and so, it came with great sadness that we came to this crossroads. But we had no choice.

Neil Brown Jr., Shea Whigham and Colin Farrell walk the picket line in support of the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strike. Photo by Hollywood To You/Star Max/GC Images

We are the victims here. We are being victimized by a very greedy entity. I am shocked by the way the people that we have been in business with are treating us. I cannot believe it, quite frankly, how far apart we are on so many things. How they plead poverty, that they’re losing money, left and right, when giving hundreds of millions of dollars to their CEOs. It is disgusting. Shame on them. They stand on the wrong side of history at this very moment. We stand in solidarity, in unprecedented unity. Our union and our sister unions, and the unions around the world are standing by us, as well as other labor unions because at some point, the jig is up. You cannot keep being dwindled and marginalized and disrespected and dishonored. The entire business model has been changed by streaming digital, AI. This is a moment of history that is a moment of truth. If we don’t stand tall right now, we are all going to be in trouble. We are all going to be in jeopardy of being replaced, by machines and big business who cares more about Wall St than you and your family.

Most of Americans don’t have more than 500 dollars. In an emergency, this is a very big deal and it weighed heavy on us. But at some point, you have to say, ‘No, we’re not going to take this anymore, you people are crazy. What are you doing? Why are you doing this?’ Privately they all say we’re the center of the wheel. Everybody else tinkers around our artistry but actions speak louder than words and there was nothing there, it was insulting. So we came together in strength and solidarity and unity with the largest stripe authorization vote in our union’s history and we made the hard decision. That we tell you, as we stand before you today, this is major, it’s really serious and it’s going to impact every single person that is in labor.

We are fortunate enough to be in a country right now that happens to be labor-friendly, and yet, we were facing opposition that was so labor-unfriendly, so tone-deaf to what we are saying You cannot change the business model as much as it has changed and not expect the contract to change, too. We’re not going to keep doing incremental changes on a contract that no longer honors what is happening right now, with this business model that was foisted upon us. What are we doing? Moving around furniture on the Titanic? It’s crazy. So, the jig is up, AMPTP. We stand tall. You have to wait up and smell the coffee. We are labor and we stand tall and we demand respect. And to be honored for our contribution, you share the wealth because you cannot exist without us. Thank you.”

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