It’s In the SAG

Will the Screen Actors’ Guild go on strike? I still lean toward “no,” but Hollywood is certainly getting nervous. The studios tried to use the same method they used with the Writers’ Guild, reaching a deal with another, smaller union (in this case AFTRA, the other actors’ union) that would then become the basis for a deal with the bigger group. But SAG is taking the position that AFTRA settled for a bad deal, and it wants something better. The studios will make another offer to SAG before its contract expires at the end of the month, and then….

The tension here is heightened by the fact that, because the last strike did so much economic damage to Hollywood, both parties are undoubtedly certain that the other will back down rather than risk being blamed for another strike. You’d think that the potential disaster of two consecutive strikes would make the parties less likely to play hardball, but it may actually make the studios feel more emboldened to make take-it-or-leave-it offers and SAG feel better able to demand something better than the previous deals.

The last actors’ strike was in the summer of 1980, and it delayed the start of the season by a month or two — which is why any show from the 1980-1 season is short a few episodes. Time Magazine wrote about the actors’ strike in August 1980, and it gives some idea of what could happen if there’s a strike this time around.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.