EXCLUSIVE: A deal may not be in the cards tonight, but SAG-AFTRA and the studios could be heading back to negotiations within hours.
The two sides are hoping to be speak virtually later today and perhaps into the night, we hear.
As of right now, no meetings have been formally set, according to a guild source, but they are expecting to lock in a time “very soon.”
It is unclear at present whether the CEO Gang of Four — NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley, Warner Bros Discovery’s David Zaslav, Disney’s Bob Iger and Netflix’s Ted Sarandos — will be participating in these new talks, which are said to include guild Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland and AMPTP president Carol Lombardini.
That response was “measured,” as a guild member close to talks tells us on this 116th day of the SAG-AFTRA strike. The guild spent most of the weekend “reviewing” the hundreds of pages of the proposal from the studios — a proposal that is a response to SAG-AFTRA’s “comprehensive counter” of late October.
“Everybody knows where everybody stands,” a studio insider told Deadline this afternoon. “Now, it’s about bringing it home, if we can,” he added with some optimism. Despite the ominous tone of the studios’ most recent offer, the tactic never truly excluded having talks between both sides continue into this week.
With “a lot to digest” for the SAG-AFTRA in the studio’s offer, according to one source, details reportedly include the highest wage increases for actors in 40 years. Additionally, there was a 100% uptick in performance compensation bonuses for high-budget streaming series and films in the AMPTP package, which a boatload of CEOs got on a brief Zoom call on November 4 to brief guild brass. Perhaps the crown jewel in the studios’ package is what have been called “full” AI protections. Put together, along with health and pension fund contributions and more, the execs feel their offer went “a long way to what SAG wanted,” per an industry source over the weekend.
Or, as Netflix’s co-CEO Sarandos told SAG-AFTRA leaders on Saturday, “We didn’t just come toward you, we came all the way to you.” If execs thought that was going to get them across the line by now, clearly they were disappointed. One insider on the studio side, expecting a deal Sunday night, informed us they had to pull the plug on a scheduled production that was getting ramped up today.
You’ll remember that it’s tricky for TV and feature productions to shoot, even though the writers strike has ended. SAG-AFTRA pickets were out in full force, shutting down a B-roll shoot with extras of Netflix’s Nicole Kidman limited series The Perfect Couple in Nantucket on September 28. It doesn’t matter where Hollywood is shooting; the guild will keep them in check. The problem with The Perfect Couple was that it was using non-guild members as extras on camera, which was a big no-no for local union actors in Massachusetts.
The combination of the now-resolved WGA strike and the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike is estimated to have cost the California economy over $6.5 billion so far. With guild members united but feeling the financial squeeze, another fallout aspect of the nearly total shutdown of production has been the loss of 45,000 entertainment industry jobs.
If a new deal is reached, the turnaround on how fast actors can go back to work and promote new TV series and films remains in question. Given the size of SAG-AFTRA at 160,000 members, it’s figured that actors’ return to work during a contract ratification period might not be as feasible as it was for the 12,000-strong WGA, whose members returned before a final vote on their new contract.
In that context, SAG-AFTRA members and their allies were out in force in front of studio lots and offices in Los Angeles and New York today, with a near full week of picketing planned as of right now. This week also will see two of the top-tier CEOs facing Wall Street scrutiny as both Warner Bros Discovery and Disney release their latest quarterly earnings and project into the New Year.