Actors hosting podcasts are divided over how or whether to continue with their shows as Hollywood’s 8-day-old actors’ strike reverberates through a neighboring industry that didn’t exist during the union’s last shutdown 43 years ago.
The official targets of the strike are film and television productions affiliated with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, a group that includes all of Hollywood’s major studios and broadcasters such as Netflix, Amazon and Apple. But letters from the actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA, forbidding promotion of the studios’ past or future work, have some members unsure whether their podcasts violate union policy.
But similar podcasts — including one about “Will & Grace“,”Gilmore Girls“,”new girl” And “Beverly Hills 90210Continued as scheduled. Episode ofLadies office,” a podcast about “The Office,” posted two days behind schedule as the hosts, Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey, discussed how to move forward, according to a person close to the show.
On an episode of the “One Tree Hill” rewatch of the “Drama Queens” podcast that aired Monday, actors Sophia Bush, Hilary Burton Morgan and Bethany Joy Lenz expressed uncertainty about whether their show would continue in its usual format and answered listeners’ questions instead.
“Since our show is currently still streaming — even though we shot it 20 years ago — is a rewatch an upgrade?” asked Burton Morgan, indicating that she and the others were waiting for a “clear answer” from the guild. Bush later said that “nobody really knows” what the guidelines allow.
Actresses Emily Deschanel and Cara Gallo, who also had their “Bones” podcast, “Boneheads,” which was scheduled to premiere this week, said in a statement Wednesday that the show will be postponed.
“We are awaiting additional guidance from the union and will update everyone on the new launch date as soon as we have it,” the statement read.
Pamela Greenwalt, a spokeswoman for SAG-AFTRA, said on a phone call Friday that while the actors’ union considers rewatching the promotional podcast, actors under contract to produce such shows would not be considered in breach of their continuation.
Complicating matters is the fact that many Hollywood studios and broadcast screens also have broadcast arms. Amazon, for example, owns or distributes several actor-led podcasts through its subsidiaries Audible and Wondery, including “SartlesHosted by Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes;Life is short with Long JustinHosted by Justin Long; andBaby, this is Keke Palmer,” hosted by Keke Palmer. All of those shows released new episodes this week.
While Audible and Wondery aren’t directly affiliated with the Film & TV Alliance, their affiliation with Amazon could put the actors who work with them in an uncomfortable position. Representatives for Bateman, Arnett, Hayes, Long and Palmer did not respond to requests for comment. Greenwalt, of SAG-AFTRA, said that podcasts produced by members of the Film and Television Alliance are not necessarily offending and that actors with questions should consult with the union.
If the strike bans actors from film and television for months, as some on both sides fear, podcasts could become an important source of work. The vast majority of SAG-AFTRA’s 160,000 members are working class, many of whom say the economics of film and television broadcasting have made it more difficult than ever to make a living.
Some podcasts, such as those without affiliation – which do not contain discussions of work produced by AMPTP – are not in dispute. Actress and writer Natasha Leggero who hosts the Relationship Podcast”The endless honeymoonWith her husband, comedian Moshe Kasher, they said their show is moving forward. “People still need advice and have dirty secrets even when actors and writers go on strike,” Leggero said.
Actors are free to appear as guests on podcasts of celebrity interviews as long as they don’t “promote the hit action” while doing so, per union guidelines. But, in practice, asking a performer not to talk about their work can be embarrassing for everyone involved.
In a recent episode of the comedy podcast “Love it or leave itThe host, Jon Lovett, greeted his guest, actor Jared Goldstein, by saying, “I love the thing you’re into.” Goldstein, who appeared in the final season of Black Mirror, replied, “Oh, thank you for liking the thing I’m in, which for legal reasons can’t be discussed at this time.”