By David Poland email@example.com
AFTRA Waits For The Moment
AFTRA finally did what they have been itching to do/announced they were doing/were pressured into not doing all along… they severed – though they maintain they suspend, not terminate – their decades old relationship with SAG. They are now free to negotiate the deal that will undercut SAG that they wanted to make with AMPTP all along, as they try to take over a larger and larger piece of the SAG pie.
I covered this all over a month ago in a Hot Button column which got a collective yawn from Hot Blog commenters (except for one, who takes AFTRA’s side in all of this) and the only surprise in last night’s news is that it took so long. Clearly, AFTRA has learned a little about doing the controversial thing you wanted to do, but waiting for a moment in which you could blame the “other side” for forcing your hand.
But the real story is not about SAG and AFTRA here… it is whether this drama is going to create a SAG strike that might otherwise have not happened. The scenario is simple… AFTRA does a deal with AMPTP in the next month that undercuts SAG. Like the DGA deal – though I think DGA did a lot better than AFTRA will and started with more honorable intent – it will be filled with “progress,” most of which was already won by WGA and DGA. But that will be the AMPTP argument. In order to keep growing the cable segment, they need these givebacks… in order to grow online, they need these givebacks, etc, etc, yadda yadda yadda.
Meanwhile, SAG will, for the first time in a serious way, have to confront the issue of crossover actors between the two unions. AFTRA was find it nearly impossible to continue to encroach on cable, etc, without their members who are also in SAG… just as runaway production was not an option unless SAG allowed The Canadian Rules to stand without any fighting back.
Given the now very short window – which you have to give some credit to Clooney/Hanks for recognizing – fighting on multiple fronts and making a deal that the most aggressive SAG members are happy with is going to be quite a challenge… especially with former SAG leadership still sniping from the sidelines.
Now Alan Rosenberg will need to not only bring together the internal SAG constituencies to agree to a contract that reflects WGA & DGA, but there will be another contract out there, designed to steal more work from SAG members who want their hard won residual and P&W dollars. (And is the Qualified Voting debate still bubbling somewhere at full heat?)
Going into this week, I would have put the SAG Strike possibility at about 10% – 15%. The AFTRA news, I am afraid, roughly doubles those odds.
Meanwhile… we are about to pass the “won’t start a movie if we don’t know whether the talent will walk mid-shoot” deadline as well (though some have already pull the brakes on).