SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher Joins WGA Picket Line, Calls for ‘Imaginative Change’ in Hollywood (Video)

“We can’t keep building on a contract that was developed in the 1980s,” Drescher says ahead of actors’ union talks with studios next month

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher, right, marches with WGA West President Meredith Stiehm on the writers strike picket line at Paramount Pictures.

SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher joined members of her guild marching in solidarity with Writers Guild of America members Monday on the picket lines in front of the entrance to Paramount Pictures’ backlot.

Amid this display of solidarity, Drescher is preparing with SAG-AFTRA to begin talks on their own new contract, and she is signaling that actors need major change in Hollywood just as much as writers.

“We can’t keep building on a contract that was developed in the 1980s,” Drescher told TheWrap. “I’m hoping that we go in with a new perspective, a different portal to enter the conversation just as we did with other talks that we were successful in resolving.

Drescher was joined on the picket line by SAG-AFTRA EVP Ben Whitehair and WGA West president Meredith Stiehm. While the star of “The Nanny” says she’s not surprised by the turnout from her members, given the long history of solidarity within Hollywood labor, she sees it as a sign that members of both guilds understand that they must band together to get the changes they want in an entertainment industry defined increasingly by streaming.

“We all understand that we have entered a streaming age, and that the expiring contracts reflect a different period in entertainment history,” Drescher said. “That in and of itself dictates some imaginative change and restructuring.”

Within SAG-AFTRA, guild leaders were in close communication with members before the start of the WGA strike this past Tuesday. As the actors guild has yet to begin its negotiations with Hollywood studios and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, SAG-AFTRA members are still contractually obligated to show up at productions if instructed to do so by studios.

But with writers withholding their labor and showrunners refusing to comply with emails from studios telling them they are still obligated to work on their shows as producers, thousands of actors have had their jobs put on hold as productions from Marvel Studios’ “Blade” to Netflix’s final season of “Stranger Things” have paused. That has added to the number of actors in black SAG-AFTRA shirts joining the picket lines to show their support for writers, and as Drescher pointed out, even some actors who are still working have joined the lines during their lunch hour.

SAG-AFTRA is currently scheduled to begin talks with the AMPTP on June 7. Drescher says that the guild’s negotiating committee, of which she is one of the heads, has been in long meetings with its national board ironing out their demands.

While SAG-AFTRA is not publicly releasing those demands, Drescher says that like the WGA and Directors’ Guild of America (DGA), streaming compensation will be a major element of negotiations. Though, she says, the needs of specific types of performers are also being taken into account.

“We are monitoring everything that happens between now and [June 7] along with what is happening with the WGA and what is happening with the DGA,” she said. “On the same token, what happens to those guilds may not be the same, and what happens with us may not be the same. I’m hoping that we won’t have to strike. I hope that we’re going to present a creative kind of negotiation… and that we don’t end up in a situation where we feel like there’s no other recourse than having to strike.”