Drescher: It's 'a New Dawn' for Actors

SAG-AFTRA president talks pay increases, AI protections in new, tentative deal
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 10, 2023 8:19 AM CST
Drescher: It's 'a New Dawn' for Actors
SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher poses for a portrait, Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023, at the SAG-AFTRA offices in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

The longest ever actor's strike against studios ended when those studios finally understood "that this is a new dawn," says union leader Fran Drescher. It "got to a place where not only did they really fully grasp the idea that this is a new dawn, that this is new leadership, that this is a historic time and this calls for a seminal negotiation" but "they decided to put their thinking caps on and group together to come up with their own solution version," the actor, who led contract negotiations as president of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Performers (SAG-AFTRA) union, tells NPR. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers similarly describes the tentative deal announced Wednesday as "a new paradigm" in a statement.

The three-year deal—worth $1 billion, per ScreenRant—still needs to be ratified, though actors are free to return to work for the first time in 118 days. If the contract is approved, most actors will see a 7% pay increase, while SAG-AFTRA's "lowest-paid members who are part of the background community" will see an increase of 11%, Drescher tells the Hollywood Reporter. Actors will also receive bonuses for appearing in hit streaming series, or shows that draw 20% of a platform's subscribers in the first 90 days. A fund will be created where 75% of the money will go to people in streaming hits "because those shows in linear TV would've been into syndication," while 25% will go to other performers, Drescher says. (Studios will provide the union $40 million annually as a "streaming participation bonus," per ScreenRant.)

Actors will also have certain protections against artificial intelligence. For instance, studios who scan an actor's image will have to pay each time their likeness is used, not just once as they hoped, ScreenRant reports. "AI protections remain something that we are constantly going to have to monitor and fight for the level of protections whereby our members will not be duplicated or synthesized in any way without consent and compensation," Drescher tells the Reporter. Still, those AI protections and streaming bonuses "are very big and absolutely had to happen or it would have been a deal-breaker." Now considering her next career move, Frescher says she'll ignore Meryl Streep's advice. "[She] said to me, 'This is great, now go run for [US] president,'" Drescher tells the Reporter with a laugh. (More Fran Drescher stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.