How Ben Affleck, George Clooney lobbied to restart actors’ strike talks – The Hollywood Reporter

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A call from Disney CEO Bob Iger SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland launched long-awaited negotiations between the union and Hollywood studios this weekend on Saturday, October 21.

During that conversation Iger expressed a desire for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to return to bargaining and ultimately sign a new three-year contract amid the SAG-AFTRA strike, which has now stretched for more than 100 days. AMPTP President Carol Lombardini soon made her phone call to Crabtree-Ireland. Under pressure from members up and down the call sheet, the artists’ union reacted quickly, issuing a joint press release with AMPTP the same day that announced Returning to negotiations and postponing its biennial national convention two days early so union staff and the negotiating team can get to work.

AMPTP, which Walked out of talks on October 11 It said there remains a huge “gap” between the two sides, and is expected to present a new package of proposals when they face off again on Tuesday. The same four Hollywood leaders who joined the talks before talks broke down earlier this month — Iger, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav and NBCUniversal Studio Group president and chief content officer Donna Langley — Ready to return. A continuation of the talks, which will be held at the union’s national headquarters on Wilshire Blvd.

These developments come in the wake of meetings by A-list actors with both their own union and Hollywood studios.

Last week, a group consisting of ben affleck, Jennifer Aniston, George Clooney, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Laura Dern, Scarlett Johansson, Tyler Perry, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone, Meryl Streep, Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon, are getting worried and frustrated about whether union negotiators will be able to reach a conclusion. We are making every possible effort to. Decided to present a compromise, a united front. These key union members held multiple Zoom meetings with SAG-AFTRA leaders Crabtree-Ireland and President Fran Drescher to discuss coming back to the table. Some had already had one-on-one talks with union leaders, but decided to go a step further. Work together to try to break the impasse.

Before the talks broke down, sources say that four CEOs attending the SAG-AFTRA talks were taken aback by Drescher’s negotiating style, which included bringing in a doll (A heart-shaped plush toy with a smiling face given to Drescher by an 11-year-old fan) and Buddhist sayings inspirational quotes. He also alarmed the CEO by announcing, “I don’t care if we stay here for a year,” to achieve the union’s goals, say the sources, who are not familiar with the union. A source has denied. A source close to the union said Drescher uses a “less contentious” bargaining process and sometimes tries to bring down the atmosphere in the room.

“I don’t need to emulate male energy to be an effective leader,” Drescher said in a statement.

Crabtree-Ireland said, “Sexist tropes being used to undermine female leaders in Hollywood is nothing new, and this is another serious example. Fran is bringing balance and consensus to what has been an adversarial process.” Might be possible.”

According to two sources familiar with the session, Drescher opened the first Zoom meeting with the A-listers by asking to take screenshots. A source close to Sangha says that Drescher wanted to take a screenshot to preserve a historic moment in Sangha’s life; SAG-AFTRA collects the history of its union as part of its normal operations. Perry politely declined, saying he would prefer to get down to business.

In pre-Zoom conversations, some A-listers brought up ideas like eliminating the $1 million dues limit on high-income members. In Zoom meetings, the group proposed a new model for residual streaming, which was written by Affleck and designed to benefit lower-paid actors, according to a source with knowledge of the call. During those conversations, Affleck, Clooney and others suggested that model could be extended by eliminating the salary cap on the highest-paid actors. The discussion emerged in press reports after Fran Drescher posted an Instagram story on October 19, writing, “We are federally regulated Labor The union, and the only contribution going to our pension and health funds, should be from the employer. So what we are fighting for in terms of benefits has to be in this contract. He added, “[It’s] Like apples and oranges, so everyone can understand it.

“Not any actor” [on the call] “It was suggested that this was a magic pill or solution,” says one attendee. “It was proposed as an outside-the-box conversation starter,” the source added. Because ‘Inside the Box’ is not working for either side of the conversation right now.”

This person felt “deeply disappointed” by meetings with SAG-AFTRA leaders, and several A-list actors say they came out of conversations concerned.

The actors also began working on their studio contacts, trying to convince them to return to the bargain and asking how they could help get both parties back to the table. Many of these high-profile artists are also major producers.

At the same time that actors were working on their studio relationships, some began expressing their frustrations in a draft of a letter expressing concerns about SAG’s leadership. Over the weekend, as news broke of SAG and AMPTP returning to the bargaining table, guild members decided not to publicize the document because they feared its contents would harm negotiations.

But ultimately, according to a source close to the studios, the purpose of the major companies’ proposal to SAG-AFTRA on Saturday was to save the 2024 film and broadcast season, in addition to restoring industry jobs that have been on hold for months. Among many entertainment attacks. Meanwhile, SAG-AFTRA had hoped for a counterproposal when the union made a major change to its revenue-share proposal on October 11, turning it into a charge on customers. Crabtree-Ireland has featured this revised proposal as a “huge concession”.

Meanwhile, in a message to members on October 21, the day the renewed talks were announced, the union told members that their unity had made it happen: “It is clear that the strength and solidarity shown by our members has led to an infallible message to the CEO,” the union’s negotiating committee said. “As we have said repeatedly, we stand ready to meet and work across the table at a moment’s notice to achieve a deal worthy of your sacrifices, Willing and able.”

Now, it appears there will be a new deal on the table on Tuesday — and the question is what the contract language will look like and how SAG-AFTRA negotiators will respond to it. When it comes to the latest sticking point – the union’s proposal to impose a fee on streaming platforms for every global subscriber – the union isn’t holding back. “Now, it’s true that CEOs don’t really want to address it, but sometimes in life when you impose an unprecedented business model as they did on all of my members with streaming, an unprecedented compensation structure Should also run with it, Drescher said in her Instagram Story on October 19. “It may not be easy, it may not be what they want, but it’s a great way to solve the problem so we can all get back to work.” The new normal.”

Guild members – along with the rest of Hollywood – are anxiously waiting.

“I am watching very closely as the negotiations progress,” says former SAG President Melissa Gilbert. “I am fully hopeful that our union will reach an agreement that benefits our membership, and our industry. “Everyone who is seriously injured will be able to come back to work.”

Kim Masters contributed to this report.

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