The Cycle

Actors strike could deal another blow to Hollywood

Hollywood is for the possibility of another strike—and another PR battle—as the deadline for contract negotiations between the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) creeps closer. The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), a smaller actors’ guild, will vote on July 8 to decide whether or not to ratify a new contract with AMPTP. That will influence how SAG will look at its own contract negotiations, but currently, SAG is encouraging AFTRA members to Vote No.

The entertainment industry was dealt quite a after the writers’ strike that ended Feb. 12, as viewers dropped once shows returned. Studios are working overtime now to get as much done before the current SAG contract expires. And actors themselves are torn, with the likes of Tom Hanks and Sally Field backing AFTRA and Jack Nicholson and Sandra Oh backing SAG.

While SAG and AFTRA are staying tight-lipped about their strategies (both organizations declined to speak to PRWeek on the issue), it’s important to communicate with viewers to explain what is happening and why they are striking.

“What happens when entertainment strikes is that business and people can go elsewhere for their entertainment needs and that should be a cautious warning to any entertainment entities who are threatening to strike,” said Bruce MacKenzie, SVP of entertainment marketing for MS&L. “Hey film and TV industry – want to give the Internet a ‘leg up’ on your business and a chance to steal your audience? Well then just have a long-term strike and give the consumer a chance to find alternate choices to how they spend their leisure time.”

UPDATE on 6/30/2008: SAG national president Alan Rosenberg released the following statement over the weekend: “We have taken no steps to initiate a strike authorization vote by the members of Screen Actors Guild.  Any talk about a strike or a management lockout at this point is simply a distraction. The Screen Actors Guild national negotiating committee is coming to the bargaining table every day in good faith to negotiate a fair contract for actors.”

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