Amazing actors are rising up across the country in search of a new decade

It was 10 o’clock in the morning, the beloved members of the guild had already attacked their boss, Fran Drescher, and the crowd was growing by the minute.

Outside the Hollywood offices of Netflix, a festive, festive atmosphere has taken hold at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Van Ness Boulevard. It was definitely a workers’ strike. But it looked like a summer party on Friday Street – a party with a few famous guests.

“We’re told we should be very grateful to do what we love to do — but not be compensated, or not protected while they benefit from our work,” said Amanda Crew of HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” who walked the picket line with Dustin Milligan. From Sheet Creek.

“That’s the actor’s myth: You do the art so you should be very grateful that you’re living your dream. Why? Do we do it for doctors? We bring so much joy to people by entertaining them,” Crowe added.

It was the first of what would be several days of marching for the actors, who picketed locations across the country. They chanted “Actors and Writers Unite!” As they walk along a short block in Times Square where Paramount conducts business; they handed out bottles of cold water and cans of La Croix outside 30 Rockefeller Plaza in midtown Manhattan; And they wore their picket signs to the sounds of Jay-Z’s “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” when it blared from a speaker in Hollywood.

The day before, the Hollywood Actors Guild, known as SAG-AFTRA, approved a strike for the first time in 43 years, joining writers who walked out more than 70 days ago.

“There is a renewed sense of excitement and solidarity,” said Alicia Carroll, strike captain for the Writers Guild of America. “Writers have been here for more than 70 days. It’s been a while and it’s hot. People are tired. So it builds confidence that we’re not alone in the industry on issues.”

Actors and writers were unable to agree on new contracts with the Motion Picture and Television Producers Alliance, which represents major studios and broadcast companies. Payment is a central issue, but negotiations over compensation have been complicated by the rise of streaming services and the advent of artificial intelligence.

Actors, including Ms. Drescher, president of the Actors Guild, have tossed the moment as an inflection point, arguing that the entire business model of $134 billion The American film and television industry has changed. They say their new contract needs to account for these changes with several barriers and protections, including increased residual payments (a type of royalties) from streaming services. They also worry about how AI will be used to replicate their work: scripts in book-case and digital replicas of their likenesses to the actors.

The Hollywood companies insisted they worked in good faith to strike a reasonable deal at a time that was also a difficult time for an industry upended by streaming and still dealing with the lingering effects of the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, the union has chosen a path that will result in financial hardship for countless thousands of people who depend on the industry,” the studio alliance said in a statement after SAG-AFTRA announced the strike.

On Friday, the writers said they were thrilled to be joined in the picket lines by the actors, many of whom marched with them for months in the black-and-yellow shirts that have become uniforms. This is the first time since 1960 that the actors and screenwriters hit at the same time.

WGA leaders shared picket line tips: Bring plenty of sunscreen, set a timer for re-introduction, and watch out for traffic. But some of the actors were already veterans.

“I never went to a sit-in without SAG-AFTRA members there. Sometimes they outnumber us here in the East,” said Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, vice president of the Writers Guild of America in the East. They have been our supporters and comrades, and we intend to reciprocate.

“Suddenly the sleeping giant woke up,” she added.

Wearing a white SAG-AFTRA cap that reads “Negotiating Committee,” the animated Ms. Drescher arrived as an exuberant crowd wrapped itself around her when she visited the picket lines in front of the Netflix offices in Los Angeles.

“I’m not really here for me as much as 99.9 percent of the members who are working people just trying to make a living to put food on the table and pay the rent and get their kids to school,” she said. . “They are the ones being cut out of their livelihood, which is pathetic.”

Shara Ashley Zeger, an actress, brought two-year-old Lily to the sit-in in front of the NBC offices in New York. A sign protruded from her daughter’s stroller. Lily played with her food – and a tambourine.

“The implications of this deal directly affect my daughter and my family,” said Ms. Zeiger.

She added, “I had a part in a project that was on a streamer, and their deal was they didn’t pay me what I had left for two years. And that was in the middle of a pandemic.”