Duncan Crabtree-Ireland Says SAG-AFTRA’s ‘Laser-Focus’ Is on Negotiations, not ‘Rumors and Whisper Campaigns’

Studio insiders tell TheWrap that studios may halt talks again until January if a deal isn’t reached by Halloween

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland is pleased to be back at the negotiating table with studios, despite the possibility that conversations could be left in the air until January if a deal isn’t met by next week.

“I’m really glad that the CEOs have come back to the table,” Crabtree-Ireland, Chief negotiator for SAG-AFTRA, told TheWrap on Thursday while attending a picket at the Paramount Studios lot in Hollywood. “We are spending all of our energy and focus on moving the ball forward as part of that negotiation process.”

After a two week break, studios and the actors guild kicked off a third round of negotiations on Tuesday to resolve the final disagreements over issues like residuals and compensation on streaming services.

Talks were supposed to continue Wednesday but the guild postponed them until Thursday in order to review the latest studio offer. But as TheWrap reported Thursday morning, studios may set to resume hardball tactics if a new contract isn’t struck soon.

According to a studio insider, if a new deal hasn’t been reached by Halloween, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers may yet again walk away from contract talks, and wait until January to resume. Crabtree-Ireland the they-say of it all isn’t at the top of the negotiating committees list of priorities. For now, the union is set on locking in a deal that fairly serves its members.

“To be honest with you, we’re not concerning ourselves with, sort of rumors, and whisper campaigns that are going on outside the room because our 100% laser-focus is on these negotiations, and achieving the fair deal that I know is possible,” Crabtree-Ireland said, as his fellow unions celebrated his appearance at the picket lines. Many stopped to snap photos with Crabtree-Ireland and thanked him for his efforts in the strike.

“I think [members] are excited about the fact that our negotiating committee and everybody who’s fighting, we’re all unified,” Crabtree-Ireland explained. “We all have the same goal in mind. Which is a fair contract, a respectful deal. I think we’re all excited to be back at the table and looking to see that happen.”

Thursday’s picketing was centered around the celebration of Hip Hop’s 50th anniversary, where rap pioneer Kurtis Blow, best known for his groundbreaking song “The Breaks,” attended on behalf of the Hip Hop Alliance, for which co-founded and serves as executive director.

SAG-AFTRA and the Hip Hop Alliance are an affiliate of the United Coalition for Humanity. The two entities work joined together in 2022 to help foster a better future for Hip Hop artists.

“I think our partnership of the Hip Hop Alliance is so important because we as a union representing Hip Hop artists, along with all other recording artists in the music industry, the vocalist, all along. But I think there’s been, in the past, a disconnect much with this hip hop community.

And the Hip Hop Alliance has partnered with us to help make sure that Hip Hop artists, like all music artists, know that we’re here for them. We’re their union. We’re here to make sure that they’re taken care of and to make sure that they have fair contracts too. So whether it’s Kurtis Blow, who I have the great good fortune to know through that partnership, or any of the other artists who are part of our membership, we’re here for them and I’m so proud that they’re here for us on this picket line today because standing united, standing in solidarity, is what it’s all about.”

For all of TheWrap’s Hollywood strike coverage, click here.

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