The 1954 Hollywood classic “On the Waterfront” ends with unionized longshoremen on a wharf. They got fed up and just stood there, staring at the bloodied Marlon Brando. Suddenly, an authoritative man in a fancy suit and an elegant hat arrives. “We gotta get this ship going,” he barks. “It costs us money!”
Over the past week, TV and film actors have gone on strike for the first time in 43 years, joining already stunned screenwriters in picket lines, Hollywood is starting to look around For his version of that number—someone, anyone, to find a solution to the standoff and get America’s movie industry going again.
But the more the entertainment industry looked, the more obvious it became that such a person might not exist.
“Back in the day,” he said, “it was Lou Wasserman who would enter the talks and drive them forward.” Jason E Square, Professor Emeritus at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, referring to the super agent turned studio mogul. Today it’s different. The traditional studios and technology companies that have moved to Hollywood have different cultures and business models. There is no studio sheikh, respected by both sides, to help broker a deal.”
At the moment, no talks between the union leaders and the companies involved have taken place and no talks have been scheduled, with each side insisting that the other side make the first move.
Federal mediators The issues that led to the breakdown of the negotiations were studied. The agents and attorneys engage in a series of back-channel phone conversations, encouraging union leaders and studio executives to soften their firm positions; Brian LordThe Creative Artists Agency, the Biden administration, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom have asked to participate, according to three people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the labor situation. A spokesman for Mr. Lord declined to comment.
Emotions must subside before talks can resume, said an entertainment lawyer who has been working in the background to bring the two sides together again. When does that happen? He said it might be next week or it might be mid-August.
Beginning in 1960, the last time actors and writers were on strike, and continuing into the ’90s, the person who could break the ice was the fearsome Wasserman. He was respected by both the business and the administration and could surpass the colorful personalities of each camp.
It was an era when the entertainment business was, for the most part, a lot less complicated. Studios aren’t buried inside conglomerates and are owned by profitable gaming divisions, not to mention having to generate quarterly growth.
Bob Daly, who ran Warner Bros. The 1980s and 1990s took on the mantle of Wasserman, who died in 2002. Mr. Daley, who managed the Los Angeles Dodgers, said on the phone that he was no longer involved in the Hollywood labor struggle. But he does have some advice.
“The only thing that bothered me was that it got personal, and I think it’s wrong,” said Mr. Daly. “The only way to solve this is for both sides to get into a room and talk and talk and talk until they compromise. Neither side is going to get everything they want. You can yell and yell inside that room — I’ve done that myself many times — but don’t come out until you get a deal.”
Hollywood’s last strike occurred in 2007 and 2008. The Writers Guild of America pulled out over a variety of issues, with compensation for shows distributed online a major sticking point. It resolved after 100 days (the current writers’ strike was 81 days earlier on Thursday) when Peter Chernin, then-president of News Corporation, and Robert Iger, then-new Disney CEO, took a hands-on role in resolving the impasse. He played Barry M. Meyer, who was the president of Warner Bros. DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg also has roles.
All of these men, with the exception of a possible Mr. Chernin, are now occupied with other matters or seen as villains by the actors.
Mr. Iger, who returned to run Disney in November after a brief retirement, became a piñata last week after telling CNBC that while he respects their “right and desire to have as much as they can,” the union leaders have not been “realistic.” In the background of the interview, a meeting of elite media and technology executives in Sun Valley, Idaho, is pouring gasoline on the moment.
Mr. Katzenberg largely left the entertainment business in 2020 following the collapse of Quibi, his live startup. In April, it was Mr. Katzenberg appointed co-chair From President Biden’s re-election campaign.
Mr. Meyer retired from Hollywood in 2013 after celebrating 42 years and continues to serve on the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. “I have nothing to do with the negotiations this year,” he said in an email. “However, it doesn’t stop me from feeling sad about the way things are stuck at the moment.”
This leaves Mr. Chernin. He left the corporate ranks of Hollywood in 2009 and built an independent company that includes a film and television production arm — he has a deal with Netflix — and a sprawling investment portfolio focused on new technology and media companies. In recent days, Mr. Chernin told one of his top aides that he had not been approached to help with the strikes, but would be hard-pressed to say no if asked.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Chernin declined to comment.
The studios that must now figure out how to please actors and writers are wildly different in size and have divergent priorities. They all say they want to solve the strikes. But some are more willing than others to make concessions and resume talks immediately. Willing campers include WarnerBros. Discovery, while Disney, which owns Disney+ and Hulu, has taken a harder line, according to two people involved in the negotiations. Warner Bros. Discovery and Disney declined to comment.
Some people in Hollywood have been looking to elected officials to help pave the way, but so far, direct involvement, if any, has not been clear. Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass last week called the actors’ strike “a pressing issue that needs to be resolved, and I’m going to work to make it happen.” A spokesperson for her did not respond to inquiries about what exactly she was doing.
Newsom said in May that he would intervene in the writers’ strike “when both sides have called.” He did not comment on the actors’ withdrawal, and a spokesperson did not respond to inquiries.
With two unions on strike, it could be months before new contracts can be negotiated and ratified. The Motion Picture and Television Producers Alliance, which is negotiating on behalf of the biggest studios, decided to focus first on resolving the differences with SAG-AFTRA, as the actors’ union is known, according to the two people involved in the negotiations.
The cameras may not start rolling again until January, given the time it takes to reassemble the cast and crew, with year-end vacation as a complication, WarnerBros executives say. Discovery and other companies to employees this week.
SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America are pretty amazed that they say entertainment companies — led by Netflix — have embraced Unfair compensation formulas to broadcast. This has been the biggest sticking point at the negotiating table, far more than union demands for security barriers around AI, according to three people briefed on the matter. (Company defended Suggested improvements to the decade as “historic”).
Under now-expired contracts, broadcast services pay residuals (a form of royalty) to actors and writers based on Total subscribers in the United States and Canada. The Actors Guild, in particular, has made it clear that the new contract should go back to some version of the old way — with streaming services using payment formats based on the popularity of shows and movies, the way traditional TV channels have done for decades, with Nielsen as the independent measuring stick.
Broadcasting companies refuse to release exact viewing data; Secrecy is part of the culture of big tech companies. Independent measurement companies, including Nielsen, have tried to fill in the gap, but they’ve only provided vague information—what generates too many views, and what doesn’t. No one knows if a streaming show like Stranger Things is watched by 100 million people worldwide or 50 million excluding corporations.
Netflix indicated on Wednesday that it considers the data it discloses to be sufficient. The company publishes weekly Top 10 lists On its site, the ratings are based on “engagement,” which Netflix defines as the total hours shown divided by the running time.
“We believe that sharing this engagement data on a regular basis helps talent and the broader industry understand what success on Netflix looks like – and we hope other viewers will become more transparent about engagement on their services over time,” Netflix said in its quarterly letter to shareholders.
John Coplin Contributed reporting from New York.