George Clooney calls SAG-AFTRA strike “an inflection point in our industry”

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More than 160,000 members are expected to hit the picket lines Friday, July 14, a day after the national board of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) voted for a nationwide strike.

The strike comes on the heels of the ongoing Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike that began May 2.

In solidarity with his fellow members, Oscar winning producer and actor George Clooney issued a statement obtained by ABC Audio, calling this moment “an inflection point in our industry.” 

Clooney continued, “Actors and writers in large numbers have lost their ability to make a living. For our industry to survive that has to change. For actors that journey starts now.”

This is the first time both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA have been on strike at the same time since 1960, when a movie star named Ronald Reagan was the president of the latter group. 

In an impassioned speech after the vote on Thursday, SAG-AFTRA’s current president, Fran Drescher, blasted the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, saying in part, “We are being victimized by a very greedy entity. I am shocked by the way the people that we have been in business with are treating us…How they plead poverty, that they’re losing money left and right, while giving hundreds of millions of dollars to their CEOs. It is disgusting. Shame on them.”

Among the issues for both SAG-AFTRA and WGA members is how streaming has lessened payments for their work, and the encroachment of AI in the entertainment industry. “The entire business model has been changed by streaming, digital, AI,” Drescher said.  … [I]f we don’t stand tall right now, we are all going to be … in jeopardy of being replaced by machines.”

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