For the first time in decades, Hollywood is set to shut down completely due to labor disputes.
Thousands of film and TV writers have gone on strike against studios since May and bargaining has yet to resume. Today, 160,000 actors will join them on the picket line, after yesterday voting to approve a strike.
Shutting down the entire industry is a big deal. The last time Hollywood writers and actors went on strike at the same time was in 1960, when Marilyn Monroe was acting in movies and Ronald Reagan was president of the Screen Actors Guild.
And it’s likely to have a big impact on Californians, including those not directly involved in the film and television industry.
A 100-day work stoppage by Hollywood writers in 2007 cost the California economy an estimated $2.1 billion and an estimated 37,000 jobs, as entertainment workers cut back on expenses and a number of restaurants and clothing stores catering to Hollywood went out of business. These industries are also likely to be impacted this time around, as will many TV shows and movies.
The strikes come as the growth of streaming services has disrupted the entertainment industry. The studios say their profit margins have shrunk and stock prices have plummeted as cable and network TV viewership plummeted; workers say they are struggling to earn a living wage and need new protections in a fast-changing workplace.
The actors and writers are joining a wave of labor activism that has taken off nationwide, and particularly in California, where hotel workers, dock workers and teachers have recently quit their jobs.
California leaders have called the moment a « hot summer of work, » with the state’s high cost of living fueling worker solidarity across a number of industries. About half of the nation’s major job disruptions so far in 2023 have occurred in California.
« What is happening to us is happening in all fields of work, » Fran Drescher, president of SAG-AFTRA, the film actors’ union, told a news conference yesterday. « When employers make Wall Street and greed their priority, and forget about the essential contributors who keep the machine running, we have a problem. »
It will be the first major movie actors’ strike since 1980, and A-listers could show up today to picket outside Hollywood studios. Ike Barinholtz, actor and screenwriter of “The Mindy Project” fame, has been a regular on screenwriter pickets for the past couple of months; he told my colleague Corina Knoll that he envisioned a longer celebrity lineup now that the actors were leaving.
« I mean, can you imagine if the Rock came out here? » he said outside Paramount Pictures Studios yesterday, referring to actor Dwayne Johnson. “The amount of hype if Dwayne came here and was hanging out? But regardless of who shows up, this is something we need to do right now.
The actors’ previous three-year contract expired at 11.59pm, having been extended on June 30 to allow talks to continue. The two sides are divided on a number of issues, including pay and the use of artificial intelligence. Read more about the central issues of the dispute here.
The Alliance of Film and Television Producers said in a statement it was « deeply disappointed » that the union has decided to walk away from the talks. « This is the union’s choice, not ours, » the group said.
It is unclear how long the strike will last. The writers walked the picket line for more than 70 days.
The actors’ strike in 1980 lasted more than three months.
Where are we travelling
Like spending 36 hours in Santa Barbara.
What books would you put on a California reading list? Which fiction or non-fiction best captures the Golden State, and why?
Email us at CAtoday@nytimes.com with your suggestions. Enter your name and the city where you live.
And before you go, some good news
Every week, a small group of women from Pleasanton get together to practice ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging, Mercury News reports it.
Ikebana follows strict rules that dictate the look and shape of flower arrangements. Alice Huang, the group’s instructor, studied ikebana for over a decade while she was growing up in Taiwan.
The women in the group range in age from 75 to 95 and most of them are ikebana novices. They joined primarily for the bonding experience. The group helps address one of the most common problems facing older Americans: lack of socialization.
« These seemingly simple things are so meaningful, » Ashwin Kotwal, an assistant professor of geriatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, told The Mercury News. « Having the weekly opportunity to get together and discuss a very specific skill is incredibly valuable. »
Thanks for reading. I come back on Monday. Enjoy the weekend. —Soumya
PS Here Today’s mini crossword.
Briana Scalia, Maia Coleman and Sadiba Hasan contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.
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