Now this is Hollywood entertainment

December 16, 2008

The divisions are deepening out in Hollywood — and we’re not talking about the standoff between the Screen Actors Guild and major studios. No, we’re talking about Tom Hanks vs Mel Gibson, George Clooney vs Martin Sheen. Actor against actor, start against star. Good stuff.

To be fair, it’s not as though they are hurling rocks at one another. But there are divisions within the ranks of the SAG over whether to authorize a strike. In a petition yesterday, 130 actors — many A-listers — sought to have the union halt the strike authorization vote. The way they see it, the economy is so bad that a strike right now would be too devastating to the industry.

Perhaps they have a point. Hollywood, after all, is still recovering from the writers’ strike. TV ratings are way down, advertising dollars are drying up and consumers are keep a close watch on their budgets. It could be a terrible time for a strike (And we should note that a strike authorization vote is different than an actual strike).

On the other hand, if the SAG fails to pass the strike authorization vote then it will find itself in a very tough negotiating position. More than likely, it would have to accept the studios’ latest offer and hope that it can achieve better terms in the next round of negotiations.

What to do? Fortunately, we don’t have to decide. But let’s hear from you, just for fun.

Would you authorize or oppose a strike vote?

Keep an eye on:

  • is counting on less clutter and more advertising options to bolster revenue at a time when its sister cable channels are battling rare weakness (NY Times)
  • Employees of CBS Entertainment and CBS Paramount Network TV were let go Monday at the company’s Studio City and Television City lots in California (
  • Apple witnessed flat year-over-year overall sales in the United States for its Macs in November, while sales of rival Microsoft Windows PCs were up 7 percent (Reuters)

(Photo: Reuters)


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As a fan & viewer I get where those in the business who have already made it might want to pull in their horns and just wait and see how this plays out in three years

There are 2 problems with this approach

1) Three years online is a *really* long time. YouTube is 3 years old and has gone from zero users to a worldwide phenomenon making money, and Hulu is pulling in money in less than a year of being open to the users of the USA (and just wait till they go worldwide). If ever there were a window of opportunity for SAG actors to get in on the ground floor and share in the fruits of their efforts for a long time to come this is it. Give that up now and it will be like pre 1960 movies on TV (or home video), or all home video from 1982 forward…no or ridiculously low residuals from this moment forward. And no renegotiations if history and precedent are any guide.

2) I suppose the 130 ‘stars’ think they’ll never have to work as actors under a *minimum* agreement again in their lifetimes or why else would they agree to so low a floor for *all* actors? Do they not get that they’re making their own representation’s job that much harder by setting a lower floor from which they have to negotiate up and that their attorneys and representation may not always be able to get them such outstanding deals as they currently enjoy?

They would be wise not to count on their good fortune being sustainable for the duration of their lifetimes; plenty of stars suffer reversals of fortune and it’s the height of temerity to think yourself exempt from the fickle finger of popularity.

Rarely can the same be said of the executives though even when they fail they seem to get big paydays. I guess that’s Hollywood irony for you.

3) Not sure if you are aware of this but there is a growing list of actors that believes now is the time to secure new media residuals and is thinking about every actor’s future. It’s posted at and the names upon it are not all those of not-famous who have to depend on a minimum agreement. Their sense of solidarity in these difficult times makes me believe that they are the heirs to the actors from the Greatest Generation who established SAG, made sacrifices for the good of all actors. They give us hope and comfort and a dash of inspiration in what is a difficult time all over the world.

Posted by WhyWeWatch | Report as abusive

A protest is scheduled to be held at SAG headquarters in Hollywood (5757 Wilshire Blvd) this Friday (Dec 19th) at 8 AM in opposition to SAG leaders seeking a strike authorization vote. SPREAD THE WORD!

Posted by Anti-Strike | Report as abusive

I say vote for the strike authorization. To cave in now would set back the cause of fair treatment a decade. Remember, the biggest gains made by unions occurred during the Great Depression.

Posted by Bruce Mitchell | Report as abusive

I think that it could be a terrible time for a strike in hollywood and we should note that a strike authorization vote is different than an actual strike.

Posted by jasmine | Report as abusive