This week, negotiators from the studio and the guilds retreated to their corners to regroup after the fallout from their August 22nd meeting. Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, chief negotiator for SAG-AFTRA, issued a statement making it clear that he is “ready at a moment’s notice” to ramp up talks with the studios. Thus far, the studios have chosen not to engage with SAG-AFTRA, as they are focusing on resolving their dispute with the writers first.
While talks are dormant, Crabtree-Ireland is encouraging striking actors to work on films from “truly independent” producers, outside of the major studios represented by the AMPTP. In a written statement, he addressed criticism from some members about the “interim agreement” which allows actors to work on independent films, explaining how moving forward with those projects “weakens the AMPTP.” He said that those who criticize the working actors are doing “the AMPTP’s work for them.”
Internal tensions among AMPTP members had escalated to the point that studios felt it necessary to convene an “execs only” meeting on Thursday. According to reports, Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos is markedly more receptive to accepting the WGA’s terms than management at other studios. In fact, there has been some discussion about Netflix going off on its own to settle with the WGA. Other studios have expressed frustration with Disney CEO Bob Iger and Warner Bros.
Discovery CEO David Zaslav has a condescending stance with WGA negotiators in the now infamous August 22nd meeting, after being miffed by negative press coverage. The AMPTP has hired the crisis PR firm Levinson Group to manage the divisions between rival execs and form a unified studio position in its negotiations. One insider pointed out that the challenge in doing so is that “they’re competitors, they’re always thinking about how to best each other. The strikes don’t change that.”