Sarah Silverman Softens Strike Waivers Stance After Chat With Fran Drescher: ‘We All Want the Same Thing’ (Video)

While still skeptical, the comedian says she now understands the union’s strategy behind allowing indie productions to keep shooting

Sarah Silverman (Photo credit: Jeff Vespa)
Sarah Silverman (Photo credit: Jeff Vespa)

Sarah Silverman has softened her stance on SAG-AFTRA’s strategy to allow certain independent productions to keep shooting during the strike after actors guild president Fran Drescher met with her and other critics of the waiver policy.

In a video posted to Instagram, Silverman said Drescher and SAG-AFTRA national executive director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland laid out the union’s strategy with the waivers in an online meeting this weekend.

As Silverman recounted, SAG-AFTRA requires productions that apply for the waiver to agree to all the terms that the guild proposed to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers prior to the strike.

Some of these productions may be acquired for distribution by an AMPTP-member studio after completion, but those studios must also agree to the guild’s proposed contract or, if the strike is resolved, whatever terms are in the new contract.

Among the many terms in SAG-AFTRA’s proposal that would be immediately applicable to waiver-approved productions is wages. SAG-AFTRA is seeking an 11% minimum rate increase in the first year of the next contract — as opposed to the 5% offered by AMPTP — in order to counter the inflation surge that has diminished the real wages of its members.

“From the SAG leadership’s perspective, this shows the AMPTP that it proves to them that what we’re asking for is not unreasonable and can be done and in fact, is being done and it forces them to either participate in it if they want the product,” Silverman explained.

Silverman did not pull punches in her initial criticism of the waivers, accusing top movie stars that work on those productions of “scabbing” and betraying the “real-life sacrifices” that Hollywood’s working class is making in supporting the strike.

“People, writers, actors, crew people, all these people are sacrificing their livelihood for this cause. It’s called union strong, where we are all together. And when SAG joined the strike, we should see every movie star out there striking along, because you have insurance because of your union and you get residuals because of your union,” Silverman said in a video on Friday.

Silverman is now walking some of that back, though she is still skeptical about the waiver strategy. She says she sees the ability of productions with A-list actors and AMPTP-studios attached to apply for the waivers as a “real stink of a loophole.”

But Silverman also acknowledged that the waivers will give below-the-line crew members who are the most financially vulnerable during the strike some needed employment opportunities.

“For me, I feel extremely comfortable agreeing to disagree and working together, picketing and telling the AMPTP that they can f–ing kick rocks because the truth is, we all want the same thing. We want a swift end to this strike, we want to get back to work having won crucial new benefits,” she concluded.

Silverman is far from the only critic of the waiver process. Boots Riley, labor activist and creator of the Amazon miniseries “I’m a Virgo,” has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the policy. Riley said in a response to Silverman’s video that allowing indie productions to keep rolling will diminish the pressure on AMPTP studios to reach a deal by giving them more titles to acquire.

“AMPTP doesn’t actually think the demands are unreasonable. They think they don’t HAVE to give in to those demands because they haven’t yet been forced to. The big demands- residuals, AI- aren’t ones that get ‘proven’ to be reasonable during production anyway,” Riley wrote.

“There are 102 films w[ith] the interim agreement so far, with MANY more that will get it before the strike is over. In 2022, there were 1300 movies that got produced. If you add the first half of this year with the hundreds that will produce under the interim agreement, there will barely be a slowdown. So why would AMPTP concede on much of anything?” he continued.

While over 100 productions have been approved for waivers, not all of them will actually shoot. One of the most prominent projects to be approved recently is “G20,” an MRC-produced action thriller that had Viola Davis attached to star in and produce with Amazon Studios distributing.

Despite that approval, Davis said in a statement on Saturday that she would not move forward with the project in solidarity with the strike.

“I love this movie, but I do not feel that it would be appropriate for this production to move forward during the strike,” Davis said. “I appreciate that the producers on the project agree with this decision. JuVee Productions and I stand in solidarity with actors, SAG/AFTRA and the WGA.”

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