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Actors strike – complicated and messy

GeorgeClooney.jpgSomething I haven't really covered much so far has been the Actor's strike and it could well be about ready to start, despite a last minute offer from the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers to try and entice them back. However it's not quite as cut and dry as that.

You see there are two Actor's unions and one has signed a deal with the AMPTP already, while the other hasn't. To add to the complications some forty four thousand actors belong to both unions, and while the AMPTP fights the Screen Actor's Guild, there's infighting between SAG and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, as well as with the actors themselves. Yes, it's a mess.

According to Management Today, who have a great take on the events, the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers are now negotiating contracts with the Screen Actors Guild who represent some one hundred and twenty thousand actors. There's an offer on the table for SAG right now to try and stall the expected strike tomorrow, however the belief is that this one will be rejected, despite the fact that they need over seventy five percent members' approval to do so.

To muddy that little pool various big name actors have been popping up here and there publicly to announce that people should, and shouldn't, support the strike. These huge grossing stars who come home with massive pay checks are trying to tell the rest of the actors in the union that they should accept the offers, that they should have negotiated earlier, and that they should keep working.

However there's an even bigger complication. If SAG heads out on strike then there's a whole heap of other actors just ready to leap into roles across Hollywood, eighty thousand to be roughly exact, in the guise of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists who have already made an agreement with the AMPTP around royalties.

However, yes there's always one of them, according to Management Today there are some forty four thousand actors who belong to both unions, so while one of them has an agreement the other is telling them to strike, or could be soon.

SAG are telling these dual-union actors to favour them and reject the AFTRA agreement, and some actors are getting involved very publicly too. Names such as Kevin Spacey and Alec Baldwin are openly supporting the AFTRA stance while names like Jack Nicholson, Ben Stiller and Martin Sheen are out supporting SAG. Meanwhile stars such as George Clooney are trying to take the middle ground and make everyone reach a compromise.

What strikes me as the odd part of all of this is that the big name stars who are earning so much money are the ones saying whether to strike or not, these are the people earning so much money per film it's scary. Where are the smaller voices? The actors who are struggling between films, earning a fraction of these big names?

It would concern me as a lower earning member that the upper earners of my union are out shouting about what we should and shouldn't do, especially if they were telling the other members not to strike.

Why am I so adamant about that? Well the strike is to ensure better pay for the actors from DVD and Internet sales, it's also to ensure that those lower earners get better pay too. Aren't they a little concerned by the rich actors publicly voicing that they should not be striking?

Saying that these lower earners are still on salaries, I'm just not sure how low they go. The terms do seem to try and favour those who are on less than a hundred thousand U.S. Dollars or fifty thousand British Pounds a year though, and that's still a healthy sum.

I wonder how the lower earning actors really feel about all this, if there will indeed be a strike over them, and if any of the audience really care? What if you start seeing the AFTRA members appearing in films instead of the SAG members? Does that mean goodbye to the big name film stars and hello to all the big name TV stars?



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