SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher and national executive director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland explained Friday how the actors’ 118-day strike was ended and their thoughts on the deal with AMPTP.
The duo, in a press conference at the company’s Wilshire Blvd. headquarters, detailed the pressures and “deal-breaking” moment during negotiations and highlighted how the shift from studios to AI and streaming revenues has occurred.
“We are very proud of what we have stood for and won in this new decade, and I am personally very proud of our chair, our negotiating committee and our members who stood strong to make this change happen,” Crabtree-Ireland said.
RELATED: Studios ‘pleased’ with SAG-AFTRA board vote to approve strike deal and ‘grateful’ to restart industry
However, it was clear that not all members of the SAG-AFTRA National Board were completely happy with the deal as it was approved with 86% support, which was lower than expected. It’s not clear how many people voted against this since SAG-AFTRA has a “weighted” voting system.
RELATED: Actors set to vote on strike deal after SAG-AFTRA board approves tentative agreement
A summary of the winning contract is expected soon, with full contract details to be provided by Monday morning at the latest, ahead of voting starting on Tuesday.
Drescher, who started the presser an hour and a half late, said early on she realized there was a “disconnect” when it came to live streaming.
“I felt like nothing about this contract could possibly make a significant difference to the lives of our members who were working on streaming platforms. The contract itself needed to change,” she said. “We decided together that we needed to go to another revenue pocket. For 35 days, like a broken record, we said, “We have to get into another pocket.” We need to get new money from somewhere. Every time we brought this up, AMPTP said “no”.
Crabtree-Ireland then said such a request “would go nowhere”.
“I think they realized they were facing a new kind of leadership in me and Duncan and we dodged their intimidation tactics. They had to acknowledge that we were demanding respect. So, we kept going back to the revenue share idea. Well, you don’t like the 2%, so how about 1%? Well, don’t you think you can do that? It’s a bridge too far. How about the concept of a 57-cent stamp where we get that per subscriber per year. “No,” Drescher added.
Drescher said it was up to the studios to “meet the moment” or else “it’s not going to end well.”
“They worked internally to come up with some sort of method that would work for all the different AMPTP members, who were currently either fully entrenched in broadcasting or involved in broadcasting. But somehow they came up with a model that they presented to the WGA and they accepted it. We knew that wasn’t going to accomplish what we needed to accomplish But, as my Buddhist wisdom teaches me, “The tallest bamboo can lean the furthest.” So, I had to focus my mind on the fact that we needed to get this work done. I’m a girl from Flushing, so for me, money is money, and Totally green, wherever it comes from, just hand it over.
At that point Crabtree-Ireland came up with the concept of a streaming bonus fund that would allow the union to use the studio’s mechanism to distribute money to actors.
This fund is split 75/25, so 75% of the money goes to actors in shows that meet specific criteria, which she described as “the thimble value of shows.” “They deserve to be rewarded,” she said, saying that in a previous world, such offers would have gone to syndication.
“I felt like, ‘Is this a win or a loss?’” But we get money. We have opened a new revenue stream. This is what we told them at the beginning: the mechanism does not matter, and the amount does not matter. What matters is that we got to another pocket and did it. “I had to be fluid again and get around that and not let perfect be the enemy of good,” she added.
governess The star added that perhaps next time in three years, the criteria for paying bonuses will move from 20% of viewers to 10% of viewers.
“I started to think and realize that this is a living, ongoing thing, a decade, and we’re not done yet. We’re just starting to get it out on the page, get that language, get into that pocket and let’s go, baby,” she added.
Drescher joked that “Fran’s plan” was all about time and patience.
She admitted there were many stressful moments during the process and highlighted the studios’ intimidation tactics, especially referring to her widely discussed doll.
“The weight of it all was very stressful. I often had to stay home via Zoom, wearing my bathrobe, because it was so stressful, and getting into the room with AMPTP was stressful, so if I could get home with my dog… “It was helpful,” she added.
Drescher concluded by thanking the AMPTP for “recognizing the importance of these historic and poignant negotiations and confronting the moment.”
Deadline caught up with both after the press conference.