Strike Two

Depending on who you read, talks between the AMPTP and the Screen Actors’ Guild either ended without a deal or completely fucking imploded tonight. You know it’s serious when Nikki Finke breaks out the clip-art alarm bells.

So now, we’re staring down the barrel of another potential strike, this time by the Actors.

A smaller union, AFTRA, is probably going to cut a quick a deal to undercut SAG on TV deals in order to gain a larger percentage of jurisdiction, but the vast majority of primetime TV (which I work in) and all feature films are SAG signatories.

The threat of a SAG strike has already ground a lot of stuff on the features end to a halt. Anything that’s not already filming or that couldn’t use the time without actors wisely (for example, Transformers 2 building more models and working on the VFX while everyone twiddles their thumbs) is not getting greenlit, because nobody will insure anything with a post SAG-deadline end date.

SAG’s contract doesn’t actually expire until June 30th, so there’s about two months where TV shows are going to try and crank out as many episodes as they can, and networks will jam in as many pilots as they can (I’m actually leaving the pilot I’m on at the moment to go work on another in a couple weeks; more on that in a later post).

The difference between SAG and the WGA is that if SAG walks, everything grinds to a halt immediately. With the writers, people could still shoot finished scripts, with the directors making “tweaks” on set.

But without actors? No shows. No movies. No nothin’. No jobs almost immediately for a huge chunk of the already-hurting SoCal economy.

A SAG strike would be a colossal disaster for everyone involved, but SAG and the AMPTP seem to hate each other enough that they’d rather destroy themselves in order to destroy the other than let the other side even appear to win.

That mentality is almost exactly the same one that led to a three month writers’ strike that drove a fair few people I know to the brink of bankruptcy.

I wish I could be more optimistic that both sides are going to pull their heads out of their respective asses and make a deal in the next few weeks, but at this point, I’m stocking up on ramen.

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