HOLLYWOOD Hollywood actors ratify contract to formally end strike

Hollywood actors ratify contract to formally end strike

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Hollywood actors overwhelmingly ratified a new, hard-fought deal with studios that paves the way for a rebound in an entertainment industry that had seen film and television production come to a halt during a months-long strike.

The Screen Actors Guild, known as SAG-AFTRA, said 78% of members who voted approved the multi-year contract.

The deal includes more than $1 billion (€926 million) in new compensation and benefits as well as protections for actors from the use of artificial intelligence (AI) by studios, the union said.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents Netflix, Walt Disney and other studios, hailed the union contract ratification.

“With this vote, the industry and the jobs it supports will be able to return in full force,” the AMPTP said in a statement.

The union said 38% of its members cast votes.

SAG-AFTRA on the picket line in Burkbank, California

The tentative deal between SAG-AFTRA and Hollywood studios to end the actors’ 118-day strike was agreed last month, and actors had gone back to work before the ratification vote.

The proposed contract contained higher pay, better bonuses for starring in hit shows or films, and the first-ever protections against the use of AI to replace human actors.

It was ratified by the union’s leadership two days later, though not unanimously.

Union leaders have since held meetings and sent out emails and social media posts to members, strongly urging them to approve the deal.

“Today is the day,” said SAG-AFTRA chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, before the release of the voting results.

“This is a big $1 billion deal with a lot of really important gains in areas like AI, minimums, streaming money,” he said.

“It’s a deal that I’m really proud of.”

Susan Sarandon joined SAG-AFTRA members on the picket line in New York in July

The vote outcome was not assured, and as details of the agreement emerged in recent weeks, warnings began to circulate online about its shortcomings, particularly over the issue of AI.

Performers feared they could soon be replaced by entirely synthetic “actors,” generated by AI using the body parts of many different humans, whose likenesses have been scraped from film archives.

The deal does not prevent studios from using generative AI, but it has a clause requiring them to inform the union each time the technology is used.

SAG-AFTRA would then have the right to bargain for compensation on behalf of the actors involved though critics say it would be hard to identify who they are.

Actors also say that the massive number of viewers a show or film needs to attract to trigger bonuses for its performers is too high for all but the very top echelon of hit shows.

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