Hollywood actors and major studios make progress in talks, signaling possible deal on horizon to end strike

Oct 31, 2023, 5:30 AM

SAG-AFTRA members picket outside of Netflix's building on day 99 of their strike against the Hollyw...

SAG-AFTRA members picket outside of Netflix's building on day 99 of their strike against the Hollywood studios in Hollywood, California on October 20. (Mandatory Credit: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

(Mandatory Credit: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

(CNN) — It appears the actors’ strike is approaching its final scene.

SAG-AFTRA, the union that represents more than 150,000 Hollywood actors, and the AMPTP, the trade group that represents the major studios, have made significant progress in negotiating sessions in recent days, arriving at tentative understandings on key components of a potential deal, according to people familiar with the matter.

That progress has led to hopes that an agreement could be reached as early as this week or next week, the people said. Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA’s chief negotiator, told Variety on Monday from the picket lines, “There has been progress, and that’s the source of my continued cautious optimism.”

While talks continue between the two sides to end the strike that has shuttered production for more than 100 days and pushed back film and television schedules, people familiar with the matter cautioned that there are still contentious matters that remain unresolved. One such issue, the use of artificial intelligence, has proved to be a sticking point between the writers and studios and required careful examination. Ultimately, erecting guardrails around the emerging technology that the actors have decried as an “existential threat” to their livelihoods has been one of the final items on the agenda during negotiations.

There does, however, appear to be some momentum toward a deal, which could help the two parties solve for such issues. As with the writers’ strike that ended earlier this month after a 148-day standoff, the four big studio chiefs — Disney’s Bob Iger, Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Zaslav, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, and NBC Universal’s Donna Langley — have been directly involved in negotiations.

Warner Bros. Discovery is CNN’s parent company.

SAG-AFTRA told its members early Monday that over the weekend it had “discussed all open proposals,” including A.I., with the studios. The union added that both parties would work independently on Monday before resuming talks together at the Sherman Oaks negotiating table.

A deal can’t come soon enough for both sides. The studios need to imminently resume production if there is any hope that the winter half of the television season can be salvaged. And thousands of actors are in increasingly dire need of a paycheck. If production is not resumed soon, those shortened television seasons will be scrapped, meaning sets will remain empty until next year, regardless of whether a deal is reached in November or December. That would mean actors, crews, and much of the Hollywood industry would have to endure the holiday season out of work.

“I definitely feel that pressure — it’s why I feel such a sense of urgency to get things done,” Crabtree-Ireland told Variety. “That’s why we worked all weekend long, and we’re not taking any time off from trying to push this process forward.”


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Hollywood actors and major studios make progress in talks, signaling possible deal on horizon to end strike