Actors to strike after contract negations with studios break down
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SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher addressed criticism, saying she was working hard the entire trip as an ambassador for her organization.
SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher fervently defended a recent trip to Italy she was photographed on amid tense negations in Hollywood over pay.
Unions have been in high stakes contract talks with major studios over what they see as unfair compensation for the hard work of their members.
A photo Drescher took with reality TV star Kim Kardashian took center stage as fuel for the narrative that Drescher was having fun in Italy while the working people of Hollywood were back in the U.S. fighting for their paychecks.
Thursday, Drescher and SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland strongly defended the trip, saying she was there working hard as an ambassador for the organization.
"Fran was working, which is what our members do. And for these employers to cynically try and turn our members against Fran because she was doing her job, that she was under contract to do, while, by the way, she was 'zooming' into our negotiations after work hours working 18 hours or more a day, it is outrageous, it is wrong, it is despicable. They should be ashamed."
The other members behind the two at the lectern began to snap their fingers and applaud in agreement.
Drescher said, "I'm a brand ambassador for a fashion company, and so is Kim. I had only met Kim seconds before that publicity picture was taken. It had nothing to do with being at a party or having fun, it was absolute work. I was in hair and makeup three hours a day. Walking in heels on cobblestones. Doing things like that, which is work, not fun. I'm sure Kim would have rather have been at her home in Malibu with her children too. Drescher said, "But, we work, that's what we do. And, at 10:30 at night, I would leave the event, I would go to my hotel room, and I'd call into the zoom. And when I couldn't get through to them, because I was on a plane, I was texting with them constantly, throughout the plane ride."
Drescher said of the call for a strike, "So, it came with great sadness, that we came to this crossroads. But, we had no choice. We are the victims here."
A reporter asked the group what they would say to anyone uninterested in their fight, who just want to see their favorite shows and movies in theaters and on television.
Drescher said, "What makes you think they're not interested in what's happening here...we bring joy to their lives."
"During COVID, they turned to us for everything," she said.
"The people that give so much to them and enrich their lives in so many ways are saying we are being taken advantage of in a terrible way," Drescher said.
She said multiple times that the wage fight in Hollywood is happening across the country and called it a threat for every working American as she spoke to reporters.
"That's how threatening this moment is in our nation's history!" she said.
Crabtree-Ireland said, "To complicated matters further, actors now face an existential threat to their livelihood with the rise of generative AI technology. We propose contract changes that address these issues, but the AMPTP (Association of Motion PIcture and Television Producers) has been uninterested in our proposals."
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