Searching for Someone to Deliver a Hollywood Ending

The 1954 Hollywood classic “On the Waterfront” ends with unionized coastal workers on the wharf. Disgusted, they just stand there staring at a bloodied Marlon Brando. Suddenly an authoritative man in a fancy suit and hat arrives. “I have to move this ship,” he barks. “It costs money!”

Last week, TV and film actors went on strike for the first time in 43 years, joining the picket line with screenwriters already on strike. Hollywood started looking around For that version of the figure, someone, anyone, to find a solution to the conflict and get America’s movie factories back up and running.

But the more I looked at the entertainment industry, the more it became clear that such a person might not exist anymore.

“Long ago, it was Lou Wasserman who was in the negotiations and got the negotiations going,” he said. Jason E. Squire, a professor emeritus at the University of Southern California School of Cinema Arts, noted the superagent-turned-studio mogul. “Today is different. Traditional studios and Hollywood-laden tech companies have different cultures and business models.

At this time, no talks have been held or scheduled between trade union leaders and the companies involved, with both sides insisting the other must take the lead.

two federal mediators I am researching the issues that caused the negotiations to break down. Agents and lawyers have been chatting on backphones, urging union leaders and studio executives to soften their stance. Brian LardThree people briefed on the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive labor situation, say the heavyweight at the Creative Artists Agency has been implicated in the Biden administration and California Gov. Gavin Newsom. was requested. A spokeswoman for Lard declined to comment.

An entertainment lawyer working behind the scenes to reconnect the two sides said they needed to cool off before resuming talks. When will that happen? He said it could be next week or mid-August.

Beginning in 1960, the last time both actors and writers went on strike, and lasting into the 1990s, it was the feared Wasserman who could break the deadlock. He earned the respect of both employers and workers and was able to push beyond the colorful personalities of each side.

It was a time when most of the entertainment business wasn’t that complicated. The studio didn’t want to be buried in a conglomerate or benefit from a profitable toy division, let alone needing quarterly growth.

Bob Daly, who ran Warner Bros. in the 1980s and 1990s, took over from Wasserman, who died in 2002. In a phone call, Daly, who later ran the Los Angeles Dodgers, said he was no longer involved. in a Hollywood labor dispute. But he had some advice.

“The thing that bothers me is that it’s become personal. I think it’s a mistake,” Daly said. “The only way to solve this problem is for both sides to go into the room and keep talking and talking until a compromise is found. Neither side can get everything they want.” You can yell and yell in, but as I have done many times, don’t come out until we have an agreement.”

The last Hollywood strikes happened in 2007 and 2008. The Writers Guild of America withdrew over a range of issues, with compensation for shows streamed online being a major bottleneck. The issue was resolved 100 days later (now ‘s writers’ strike was in its 81st day on Thursday). in resolving impasses. Barry M. Meyer, former chairman of Warner Bros., and Jeffrey Katzenberg, then-CEO of DreamWorks Animation, also played roles.

All of these men, with the possible exception of Mr. Chernin, are either currently busy with other errands or are considered villains by the actors.

Iger, who returned to running Disney in November after a short hiatus, told CNBC last week that while respecting “their rights and their desire to get as much as possible,” Trade union leaders said they had become piñatas of piñatas. Not “realistic”. The backdrop to his interview was a meeting of elite media and tech executives in Sun Valley, Idaho, and the moment gasoline was poured.

Katzenberg has largely retired from the entertainment industry following the bankruptcy of his streaming startup Quibi in 2020. In April, Katzenberg said, named co-chair A look at President Biden’s re-election campaign.

Meyer retired from Hollywood in 2013 after an illustrious 42-year career before becoming a director of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank. “I have nothing to do with this year’s negotiations,” he said in his email. “That said, I am still saddened by the current stalemate.”

This ends Mr. Charnin. He left Hollywood’s big business in his 2009 to run an independent company that includes a film and television production division (which has a deal with Netflix) and a vast investment portfolio focused on new technology and media companies. was established. Recently, Mr. Chernin told a senior employee that he had never been asked to cooperate in a strike, but that if asked, he would be hard-pressed to refuse.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Chernin declined to comment.

Today, studios are vastly different sizes and have different priorities when it comes to figuring out how to keep their actors and writers happy. They all say they want the strike resolved. But some people are more willing than others to compromise and quickly resume negotiations. Aspiring factions also include Warner Bros. Disney, which owns Disney+ and Hulu, took a tougher stance on Discovery, according to two people involved in the negotiations. Warner Bros. Discovery and Disney declined to comment.

Some Hollywood officials have asked elected officials to help smooth the way, but direct involvement, if any, is so far unknown. Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said last week that the actors’ strike was “an urgent issue that must be resolved and I will work to make it happen.” A spokesperson did not respond to questions about what she was doing specifically.

Mr Newsom said in May that he would intervene in writers’ strikes “if requested by both sides”. He did not comment on the actors’ strike, and a spokesperson did not respond to inquiries.

With two unions on strike, it could take months before a new contract is negotiated and ratified. The Motion Picture and Television Producers Alliance, which is negotiating on behalf of the biggest studios, will first focus on resolving its differences with the SAG-AFTRA, better known as the Actors Guild, according to two people involved in the negotiations. was decided.

Warner Bros. executives said it could take January before the cameras start rolling again, given the time it takes to reassemble the cast and crew and the complexity of the holiday season. Companies such as Discovery told employees this week:

The main reason the SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America are on strike is that entertainment companies, led by Netflix, Unfair Compensation Formula for streaming. It was the biggest stalemate at the negotiating table, far more serious than trade union demands for guardrails around artificial intelligence, according to three people briefed on the matter. (Companies defended themselves Improvement proposal Treated as “historic” in contract. )

Under a now-expiring contract, the streaming service will pay actors and writers the balance (a type of royalty). total subscribers in the US and Canada. In particular, the Actors Guild has made it clear that the new deal must go back to the old way, the way traditional TV channels are, streaming services that use payment schemes based on the popularity of shows and movies. It has been done for decades, with Nielsen as an independent measure.

Streaming companies have refused to release detailed viewership data. Secrecy is part of the Big Tech culture. Independent measurement firms, including Nielsen, have tried to fill this gap, but have provided vague information about what drives the most views and what doesn’t. No one but corporations knows if a streaming show like Stranger Things will reach 100 million people worldwide, or if he will reach 50 million.

Netflix indicated Wednesday that it believes the data it discloses is posts weekly top 10 list on that site. This ranking is based on “engagement,” which Netflix defines as total viewing time divided by running time.

“We believe that by sharing this engagement data on a regular basis, we can help talent and the broader industry understand what success looks like on Netflix. We hope to be more transparent about our engagements over time,” Netflix said in its quarterly letter. Shareholder.

John Cobrin Contributed to the report from New York.

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