On the first day of SAG-AFTRA picketing after the union called a strike, a hot topic of conversation was the assertion by an unnamed studio executive that the studios’ endgame in the WGA strike was to “break the WGA” and allow the strike to go on until people lost their homes.
Ron Perlman came out swinging on Friday in direct response, and comedian, SAG-AFTRA member and WGA contract negotiating committee member Adam Conover slammed those comments himself on CNN Saturday, saying the striking writers and actors are going to be the ones starving the studios out.
“I mean first of all, it’s offensive that the CEOs that we’re negotiating against literally said to the press that their goal is to starve us out until we lose our apartments and homes,” Conover told CNN’s Jim Acosta, referring to the unnamed executive’s comments in Deadline last week. “I think anybody hearing [that] would be incensed and insulted by that. But also, they’re wrong because we’re the ones starving them out, we’re gonna be on the picket lines as long as it takes.”
The “Adam Ruins Everything” star said the striking writers and actors understand the gravity of the situation at this moment and are protecting against lost careers down the line if they don’t win the protections for which they’re fighting.
“The reason for that is that the companies, the streamers and studios, have spent the last 20 years making our work pay less. Making it more precarious, less stable, making it harder to build a career, so all of these writers and actors know — myself included — that if we do not win this fight, we will not have careers to go back to in five years. So we will be on the picket lines as long as it takes. They’re not starving us out, we’re starving them out.”
In a statement to TheWrap, an AMPTP spokesperson said in response to the unnamed executives’ quotes, “These unnamed people named in the Deadline story are not speaking on behalf of our companies who are committed to reaching a deal and getting our industry back to work.”
A key sticking point in negotiations with both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA, meanwhile, has to do with residuals, or how much writers and actors are paid for their work once it’s completed and their show or movie lives on. Previously, many writers and actors made a living off of residual income as a result of their shows or movies making additional money on home video or airing repeats on television. (Every time you see an episode of “Friends” on TBS, for instance, Jennifer Aniston and co. get paid.) But in the streaming era, residual payments are less because syndication or broadcast airings are few and far between as streaming originals largely stay in one place.
Conover’s assertion that he’ll be on the picket line as long as it takes echoes what TheWrap heard from the first day of the combined picket lines on Friday.
“I just want to wake up tomorrow and feel secure — I don’t want to have to worry,” SAG member B.K. Phillips said, adding that he must continue to put money into training for when the strike ends. “It doesn’t seem to be fair where the wages for people in my tier of acting keeps getting cut each year, but these executives are walking away with contracts and deals… If some of that money was returned into the product, maybe the product would be fantastic and everyone would come out a winner.”
For all of TheWrap’s strike coverage, click here.