The Actors strike in the USA has halted productions, left actors carrying boards instead of reading them before a job, forced talent agencies to close down, and even tragically caused a death as 38-year-old actor William Ray Embry died after collapsing on a picket line in Hollywood whilst protesting against a non-union shoot for a Sony PlayStation commercial. Where is all this going and will it ever end?
On the tragic shot of the playstation commercial a person on "the other side" whom wishes to remain anonymous (he has already received bizarre threats and declines to attract any more thank you) recalls that day as "the shoot from hell". He feels that the deputies did nothing to protect them, according to their rights. - "If you have a permit as we had for instance you could arrest anybody who trespassed on the set, and we explained this to the picketers who then stayed off the set and out of way but continued picketing outside -Loudly. The west Hollywood Sheriffs department then arrived to complain to us about the noise "we" were apparently causing by shooting -quietly - in a closed set inside a building, and did nothing to tone down the picketers outside who were banging pots and pans together. It is absolutely tragic that Ray Embry had a seizure during all this commotion, and I feel terrible for his family and friends.
Now the big guns are out before the big meeting the 13th, striking actors' unions have asked Emmy nominees to wear gold ribbons as a show of solidarity during the Sept. 10 broadcast of the Prime time Emmy Awards.
I know all about ribbons. Ribbons have been used to raise awareness and support for serious illnesses, such as AIDS, MS and Breast Cancer, not for cable TV residuals.(Even the yellow Endometrioses ribbon has been sneered at as Endo is not a life-threatening illness). Will this Gold ribbon worn by actors who make 250k USD per episode on late night shows supported by advertising help gain more friends and sympathizers to the "cause" in the "enemy camp" of advertisers or just jam in that last nail in the coffin? I think it is a bit Kafka-esque, personally.
I really shouldn't be writing this article, as I am far far away from the US strike, and shouldn't be "affected" by it. But the funny thing is, I am reminded every day as those "friends of actors" e-mails never stop clogging my mailbox regarding my commercial-archive collection site. The e-mails range from polite to delirious, and more often than not sound like pathetic threats on my life ripped straight from a B movie. (I too wish their talent for melodrama could be spent on a set instead). But its made me think, and perhaps and opinion from the other side of the pond here in Europe is "unbiased" enough.
As the strike approaches its fifth month, it's clear that both sides are so far apart that a compromise based on either parties proposal is not gonna happen.
The JPC does not want residuals eliminated in their entirety - the cost of monitoring and accounting for all of the outlets is ludicrously expensive not to mention time consuming. They suggest everything to be paid in cycles of 13 weeks, under both the '97 deal and the current JPC proposal on the table. SAG on the other hand is not about to give up residuals and is dead set on extending them to cable to protect their legitimate concern about (over)exposure.
At this stage in the process, the only way to settle the impasse is to find a compromise which will allow both sides to go back to their respective constituents and say "We Won!". It doesn't matter that both sides have "lost" already, what is important to the leadership of both organizations is to save face for themselves. It's politics kids.
This is why I belive that the suggestion to base the actors compensation as a percentage of the media buy will allow both parties to say "We won!":
JPC: It successfully eliminates the residual system - no more costly tracking of airplay and the accounting nightmares associated with it. The percentage can be structured for the cost to fall within the range of the original increase they were proposing.
SAG: The percentage of media buy structure successfully addresses the overexposure issue. It is essentially similar to the "residual" system in that the pay is ongoing "pay for play". The percentage will apply to cable, Internet, and whatever else may come up in the future, so the "residual" system is effectively applied to the other avenues. It also provides an inflation hedge or "cost of living increase" because as the cost of the media increases, so does the actors compensation.
In short, a "win, win" situation.
I'm hoping that the strike on the other side on the pond will end - soon - and with best results for both parties. The strike has definitely gotten out of hand.
* footnote. There is so much misinformation floating around that few have any idea now hard fact and what is emotional fiction.
* footnote2. The "Internet" mentioned above in the hypothetical SAG comment does not include any non -profit hobbyist-sites where advertisers don't actually pay to run an ad at all, which isn't a media-buy at all no matter how you twist it, like my commercial-archive.com. I just thought I should make that very clear.