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  • Lacrystal Parker

SAG actors strike, joining Hollywood writers. VIA MSN

The writers and actors are striking over pay equity in the streaming age

I have a quick message to TV and film companies like Netflix, Disney, Amazon and Warner Bros.: Dip into your embarrassingly deep pockets and pay the striking writers and actors IMMEDIATELY before a Hollywood work stoppage forces people like myself to either read a book or face the grim terrors of the world around us.

I’m not kidding.

The last thing you big-shot Scrooge McDucks want to deal with is an American populace deprived of the TV and movie entertainment that takes the edge off our miserable existence. So help me, if we start having time to reflect on humanity’s slow lurch toward extinction, you’ll never hear the end of it.

For those who’ve sensibly remained distracted by binge-watching streaming shows and movies, the Writers Guild of America has been on strike since May 2, and on Thursday the Hollywood actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA, announced its members will take to the picket lines Friday, effectively shutting down all U.S. television and film production.

It’s the first time writers and actors have gone on strike at the same time since 1960. The demands are both clear and, from where I’m standing, reasonable.

The era of streaming shows and movies has boosted the need for content, but the pay for writers and actors hasn’t kept pace. Also, streaming shows have shorter run times than traditional network television series, so writers and actors are getting paid less while also experiencing larger gaps between jobs.

A Los Angles Times analysis found that between 2018 and 2021, the average pay for top Hollywood executives rose 53% while writers pay remained “virtually flat.”

David Zaslav, chief executive of Warner Bros., received a nearly $247 million compensation package in 2021. Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos’ pay, according to the Times, “increased 32% last year to $50.3 million … despite significant cuts to programming and hundreds of layoffs that year.”

The writers and actors are also rightly concerned about the advent of artificial intelligence and want assurances they won’t be supplanted by AI.

The studio executives haven’t been saying much, presumably because they’re busy overseeing routine moat maintenance at their summer castles. But what has been said hasn’t been great.

One unnamed executive told Deadline: “The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses.”

If a screenwriter wrote that bit of dialogue, it’d be rejected for being “too predictably cruel.”

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