By Jack Phillips
A failure to resolve twin strikes of the writers’ and screen actors’ guilds could lead to “devastating effects” if no deal is reached soon, according to billionaire media mogul Barry Diller.
On July 14, a number of top movie and TV actors joined picket lines alongside screenwriters on the first full day of a walkout that has become Hollywood’s biggest labor fight in decades. It’s the first double-barreled strike by actors and screenwriters in more than six decades.
The two guilds have similar issues with studios and streaming services. They’re concerned about contracts keeping up with inflation and about residual payments, which compensate creators and actors for the 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.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents employers including Disney, Netflix, Amazon, and others, has lamented the walkout, saying it’ll hurt thousands of workers in industries that support film and television production.
Mr. Diller, a former Paramount Pictures CEO, said on July 16 that the situation could compound if not resolved quickly.
“These conditions will potentially produce an absolute collapse of an entire industry,” he told CBS News.
“I would call for a September 1 deadline. There’s a strike deadline. I think there should be a settlement deadline, because unless it happens by September 1 … The truth is, this is a huge business both domestically and for world export.
“These conditions will potentially produce an absolute collapse of an entire industry.”
However, a settlement in the near future appears unlikely, he said. There’s “no trust between the parties,” and there are “existential issues” including the rise of AI, which is “overhyped to death,” Mr. Diller said.
“Writers will get assisted, not replaced,” he said. “Most of these actual performing crafts, I don’t think they are in danger of artificial intelligence.”
Mr. Diller also said that some writers’ and actors’ claims that top media executives are overpaid are also overblown.
“You have the actors union, saying, ‘How dare these 10 people who run these companies earn all this money and won’t pay us?’ While if you look at it on the other side, the top 10 actors get paid more than the top 10 executives. I’m not saying either is right. Actually, everybody’s probably overpaid at the top end,” he told the outlet.
The writers’ strike had already stopped much of television production, from late-night talk shows and “Saturday Night Live” to scripted shows including “Stranger Things” on Netflix, “Hacks” on Max, and “Family Guy” on Fox.
The additional strike by actors 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 in 2024.
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said that 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,” Ms. Bass said in a statement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.