Disney Big Boss Has Meltdown Over Piling Woes
Disney CEO Bob Iger is voicing his strong opposition to plans by the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) to strike and is pushing for a “realistic” approach to demands for higher pay for actors.
In an interview with CNBC’s David Faber on “Squawk Box” Thursday morning, Iger slammed the actors and their union for their threat to go on strike, which could potentially have a “very, very damaging effect” on the entire entertainment industry.
The 72-year-old executive, whose $27 million-a-year contract was extended Tuesday through 2026, said A-list actors Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence “are not being realistic” about the compensation they are asking for.
“It’s very disturbing to me. We’ve talked about disruptive forces on this business and all the challenges we’re facing, the recovery from COVID, which is ongoing, it’s not completely back,” he said. “This is the worst time in the world to add to that disruption.”
SAG-AFTRA representing 160,000 performers including stars had sought higher pay to counteract inflation and protection of their future livelihoods from the looming threat of Artificial Intelligence.
Moreover, studios are not disclosing viewing figures for their shows and offer the same flat rate for everything on their platforms, regardless of their popularity. This has further exasperated the actors and union.
President of SAG-AFTRA Fran Drescher said studios' responses to the actors' concerns had been 'insulting and disrespectful.'
“The companies have refused to meaningfully engage on some topics and on others completely stonewalled us,” she said in a statement after a deadline for actors to agree to a new contract expired at midnight of Wednesday.
“Until they do negotiate in good faith, we cannot begin to reach a deal,” she added.
Hollywood studios had called in federal mediators to help resolve the deadlock - a last-minute move described by SAG-AFTRA as a 'cynical ploy.'
The union is set to hold a meeting Thursday morning to vote on whether to go on strike or not. Under the rules of a strike, SAG-AFTRA members would not be able to film any movie or TV series, take part in any press or film premieres or promote anything at the upcoming San Diego Comic-Con.
Iger, however, is adamant that this could have disastrous ripple effects not only on the industry but also on the economy of different regions due to its sheer size.
“It’s a shame, it really is a shame,” he concluded.
Hollywood unions representing directors, behind-the-scenes film workers, and writers issued a statement of 'unwavering support and solidarity' with the actors.
“Workers 'across all crafts and departments' stand together 'to prevent mega-corporations from eroding the conditions we fought decades to achieve,' it said.
A strike would also have a bad effect on the Emmy Awards, TV’s version of the Oscars, which is due to take place on September 18.
The Television Academy chairman Frank Scherma hinted at a delay to November or even next year.
“We hope the ongoing guild negotiations can come to an equitable and swift resolution,” he said Wednesday as the Emmy nominations were announced.
The economic damage is expected to spread if actors go on strike and further disrupt the already harassed industry.
We can only hope that actors and studios come to an agreement soon and that the entertainment industry can continue to flourish.