Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Sag/Aftra Celebrates Thanksgiving with End of Strike

Dateline: November 9th, 2023

Hooray! The actors strike is over! One of the "longest strikes in Hollywood's history" ended at one minute past midnight November 9th, 2023 - after what amounted to months of negotiation between the actors union and Hollywood studios. 'Twas Thankful indeed that members have arrived at a contract that will enable SAG-AFTRA members from every category to build sustainable careers. With Sag/Aftra representing performers last week approving a tentative agreement with Hollywood studios. Leaders of the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) characterized the deal as a big win, with the contract achieving significant breakthroughs on actors' pay and putting guardrails on the industry's use of generative AI. And it couldn't have been more thankful or timely with Thanksgiving around the corner.

"Few holidays are identified as closely with family gatherings as Thanksgiving is. And this year, after months in the trenches on the picket lines, it feels like our SAG-AFTRA family has drawn closer than ever." said Fran Drescher, President along with Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, National Executive Director & Chief Negotiator.

On Thursday, a tentative agreement was reached between AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA which resulted in the end of their strike. However a there still needs a majority of union members to ratify the contract agreement around Dec 5th. Many people were left wondering when the SAG-AFTRA strike would end after the Writer’s Guild ended their strike back in September. The SAG-AFTRA strike lasted for 118 days, starting on Jul. 14 and ending on Nov. 9. A contract was made and is valued over one billion dollars.

According to the SAG-AFTRA website, the deal they reached was extraordinary and it seems actors got most of what they wanted. “…We have achieved a deal of extraordinary scope that includes ‘above-pattern’ minimum compensation increases, unprecedented provisions for consent and compensation that will protect members from the threat of AI, and for the first time establishing a streaming participation bonus. Our Pension & Health caps have been substantially raised, which will bring much needed value to our plans. 

In addition, the deal includes numerous improvements for multiple categories including outsize compensation increases for background performers, and critical contract provisions protecting diverse communities,” said TV/TH Negotiating Committee in an address. The contract allows members of the present and future to have a more sustainable career in the industry. We have much to be Thankful for this Thanksgiving.


With a nod to the season and to the artist, actor, comedian, and super inventive dude who played the nerdy wack-a- doodle kid in a tight fitting plaid prom suit...complete with red bow tie ~ Pee Wee Herman, we pay tribute to Paul Reubens'. Paul died at age 70 on July 30 this past year due to acute myelogenous leukemia.

Paying tribute on Instagram at the time of Paul Reubens death, was Weird Al Yankovic, who said: "What a dear, sweet man. He was always so lovely to me and my family, and we’re all so enormously sad today." Paul, is best known for his character of Pee-Wee Herman.
"The world lost an icon, and I lost an old friend. We love you, Paul." Eric Appel, who directed the movie Weird the Al Yankovic biopic,  and thinking about a biopic on Reubens, was asked who he wanted to play Paul. Eric said he would like to get actor Jorma Taccone to take on the role.

He had previously starred as the Pee-wee Herman character in WEIRD and is one-third of the sketch comedy troupe The Lonely Island, with childhood friends Andy Samberg and Akiva Schaffer. Below, we pay tribute to Paul with a not-too-shabby rendition of Pee-Wee's voice on IFC's Thanksgiving promo.



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Monday, October 30, 2023

AMPTP Talks with Sag/Aftra get Closer to a Contract


Deadline Update; October 29th, 2023, 11:08 PM: After a busy weekend of negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP to close a new three-year contract, the striking actors union and the studios are stepping back for a day.

In a missive sent to members earlier tonight and obtained by Deadline, Fran Drescher said: “Over the course of the weekend, we have discussed all open proposals, including AI, with the AMPTP.” The TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee of the 160,000-strong union went on to say: “Both parties will be working independently Monday and re-engage on scheduling at the end of the day.  Join us and flood picket lines in the morning. Make your voices heard.”

Talks between SAG-AFTRA and the major studios had broken down, as the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers felt the gap between the sides is "too great." (Deadline-dot-com)

Back then, the union said: “We have negotiated with them in good faith, despite the fact that last week they presented an offer that was, shockingly, worth less than they proposed before the strike began,” SAG-AFTRA told the membership. “These companies refuse to protect performers from being replaced by AI, they refuse to increase your wages to keep up with inflation, and they refuse to share a tiny portion of the immense revenue YOUR work generates for them.” 

On the studio side, an insider disputed that these nuances were presented in the negotiating room, insisting that the stated fee would be $1 per subscriber per year.

“They have either intentionally or non-intentionally misconstrued the cost of the proposal,” Crabtree-Ireland said. “I told them how and why they decided to leak that incorrect valuation in their press release. The correct valuation is about $500 million – a little bit less than 57 cents per subscriber per year. Less than a postage stamp per year per subscriber is not that much of an ask.”

This subscriber proposal made no sense to CEOs Zaslav, Sarandos, Disney CEO Bob Iger and NBC Universal’s Studio Group chairman Donna Langley. They felt they had already offered significant raises to actors in their negotiations up to that point, and that a flat levy to the guild on their subscription revenue was, as Sarandos later put it, a bridge too far.

They also worried they’d need to give a similar deal to other guilds, which would cost even more in a portion of the industry – streaming – where most studios are losing money.

It was an economic model they could not accept.

The strikes have brought the entertainment business to a standstill. The Writer’s Guild strike, which began in May, ended on Sept. 27, but the SAG-AFTRA strike, which started in July, continues. Writers, actors, set decorators and production coordinators have all slid back into the industry that serves as Hollywood’s shadow partner: restaurants.

In Los Angeles it’s a cliché that the ranks of hosts, waiters and bartenders are filled with aspiring comedians, actors and writers. And while the rise of gig work like driving for ride-share companies means that food service is not necessarily the default job for newly arrived dreamers, the strike has supercharged demand for restaurant jobs.

Talks between the performers’ union and the studios restarted with the majors offering a rise in minimum rates and increased bonuses based on the success of streaming content. 

Working off their WGA deal, the studios proposed a 7% increase in minimums, with SAG-AFTRA offering on Friday a self-described “comprehensive counter” moving from an 11% rise to 9%. The studio’s success-based metric was in response to SAG-AFTRA’s ask for a 57 cents per subscriber annual charge on Oct. 11 which Sarandos called a “levy on subscribers” and “a bridge too far”. 

 “There is a feeling of optimism” a guild source told Deadline today. “Looks like we’re in the final stretch,” a senior studio source added.

Both sides expressed confidence a deal may be reached within days, but as before cautioned the situation is still fluid.

(As featured in Buzzfeed) Of course, while the actors' guild is still striking during the Halloween season, the union has recently announced its guidelines for union members' Halloween costumes. 

It basically says, that members shouldn't dress up as characters from struck content — i.e. most movies and TV shows — and instead suggested folks refrain from posting on social media or as "generalized characters and figures."

Union leaders stressed that "We are on strike for important reasons, and have been for nearly 100 days. Our number one priority remains getting the studios back to the negotiating table so we can get a fair deal for our members, and finally put our industry back to work,". So, Buzzfeed featured some celebrities who went ahead with their movie-inspired costumes this year anyway: Find out who's who and what's with an unveiling of a few more celebs sporting their All Hollows' Eve creativity.


with: Stefan Nadelman

Let's see what's goin on in the clean world... of Stefan Nadelman. Those familiar with Stefan's animation work know him as the Go-to-Guy for conceptualization in the Movie & Doc world. He's been little affected by the WGA or SAG/Aftra strikes. We sometimes think of Stefan as our resident animation graphics designer and 21 century titlist insider. You heard it here first. Off the record, on the q-T and very Hush-Hush. Or so says Danny DeVito in his narration role in L.A Confidential.

Yep, Stefan's the guy who's got the inside track on La La-Land... and he's been working overtime. His dance-card is brimming with (5) assignment titles at once. First one up is Devo, if for no other reason 'cause we have with the help of Sunday's NYT's Art & Leisure section. They did a story (Oct.15th) about Devo's new book "Celebrating 50 years of De-evolution 1973-2023".

Devo isn’t overjoyed about being prescient. The band got started half a century ago as a satirical art statement. But by now, much of what Devo mocked has become inescapable. Gerald Casale, who founded Devo with Mark Mothersbaugh, said, “If somebody would have told you 50 years ago where we would be at as a culture now, you probably wouldn’t have believed it. Neither would I. But here we are.”

Devo’s lone hit, Whip It in 1980, only reached No. 14 in the United States. But the influence of Devo’s clipped rhythm synthesized tones, its robotic moves and its re-contextualized retro graphics has grown ubiquitous, from commercials to cartoons and perhaps even into K-pop, where synthesizers, uniforms and tightly synced dance routines reign. This year, with a continuing world tour and a new, 50-song boxed set, “50 Years of De-Evolution” — a knowing assortment of hits and obscurities — Devo is savoring and reasserting its legacy. (NYT's)

Next up for Stefan we can look forward to is, Don't Die; being offered as a Sundance contender.

Don't Die is film about centimillionaire Bryan Johnson, a 46-year-old tech entrepreneur, who's obsessed with letting AI determine his health regimen to de-age himself. 

He has spent millions on a team of experts with the goal of making his organs look and act like those of an 18-year-old through a strict diet,which he combines with a one-hour exercise regimen, a rigid bedtime routine, blood transfusions and daily health tests.

Still to Come - Stefan had let me know about a docu-series called Con Queen, that is nearing the final stages, and may get picked up by Apple.

Eternal Values is another docu-series on its way to completion. It's about a new age cult of supermodels in the 90s, run by Frederick Von Meiers. As a cult leader of the group Eternal Values, Frederick Von Mierers, claimed to be an alien from the star Arcturus. Mierers believed in impending doom and that he and his fellow aliens had been sent here to help earthlings.

And Monkey Business (not a remake of the 1952 version with Cary Grant And Ginger Rogers) is a doc about the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT scandal. Stefan's on the job but aspects are still in development. We'll follow up as soon as we hear further. Or you can always go to Stefan's IMDb page.

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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Sag/Aftra still on Strike while Writer's Come to Agreements

The months-long Hollywood writers strike is over after the Writers Guild of America released the details of their Tentative Agreement with Hollywood studios. 


The agreement allowed writers to go back to work at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, September 27th, nearly 150-days after they walked off the job on May 2.

Meanwhile, as of September 28th, over at Sag/Aftra, the scheduled talks with the video game industry which began Tuesday, have ended with no agreement. With a sharpened joint statement tonight, the union and the videogame producers said: “SAG-AFTRA and video game employers concluded scheduled negotiations for the Interactive Media Agreement. No deal was reached and the current agreement will remain in effect while the parties make final efforts to reach a deal.”

Many of the issues involved in the union’s 11-week film and TV strike are common to those in the video game contract, including wages, streaming issues and artificial intelligence.
The news comes days after nearly 100% of SAG-AFTRA’s 160,000-strong membership voted unilaterally to authorize a strike against the major video game companies.  

As striking SAG-AFTRA returns to negotiations, Fran Drescher is in the lead role along with her right hand National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland.
From writers to auto workers, 2023 will be known as a pivotal year for labor, and no figure has been more prominent than Drescher.  It’s getting close to three months since SAG-AFTRA announced the contract negotiations broke down with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and its entire membership went On-Strike. In the intervening weeks, Drescher, who has been serving as president of the union since September 2021, has been attending picket lines and cris-crossing the country for speaking events and interviews. 

Drescher with her team of negotiators are set to return to the bargaining table on October 2, almost 12 weeks since the strike began on July 13th. Expectations for what SAG-AFTRA will come away with are up there. The Writers Guild of America (WGA), which went on strike in May, just reached an agreement with a coalition of Hollywood’s biggest studios, streaming services, and production companies. The deal, which ends the WGA’s nearly 150-day-long walk out, notched significant wins for union members: compensation increases and minimum staffing requirements for writers rooms, better residual payments for streaming (and unprecedented transparency into streaming data) and protections against artificial intelligence being used to replace writers or being trained on their work.

More to follow for sure.

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Thursday, August 31, 2023

The Mortuary Scares Up Results for Halloween's Friday the 13th/Pee-Wee Tribute

The Halloween season is creepin' along in all its pre-pandemic glory. Pre-pandemic, is sounding a bit lame at this point in time. Guess you could realistically say; there are people out there scratching their heads going...what pandemic.

Of course those people are 'THREE YEAR's OLD'!

But, wait, there's something else out to get least in NOLA country. Imagine you and your betrothed exchanging vows at The Mortuary Haunted Mansion on Friday the thirteenth for Your BLOOD WEDDING... and you're The Mortuary's guest of honor! Welcome to this season's theme - Here come the brides...looking for their grooms. Actually, this is a pretty cool concept and a perfect alternative progression to the 'what to do on date-night' kinda stuff. And nobody has to get locked in a car trunk like in those yester-years...He He He He.

Here's the skinny - Pop the question to your dearest love, dare them and 20 of your closest friends to join the Mortuary Vampires on Friday the thirteenth of October for Your BLOOD WEDDING! Make it a goth happening. Go all out and do it up right with a pair of Wolowitz' fake tattoo sleeves! It's an Eternal Union 'Till Death Do Us Part'...not-to-be-confused with a Netflix cancellation clause.

You'll get to send out cool invites like "The Eternal Prince of the Air and the Undying Queen of Darkness are forming an eternal union. This Halloween, your presence is requested for the Blood Wedding and Grand Feast at The Mortuary Haunted Mansion…So, come by this Hallows Eve and join us. Wear your darkest attire and be prepared to dance forever on the knife’s edge of destruction. Bring the gift of the crimson manna that fills your veins and be prepared to meet Eternity"! Not your idea of being able to read the room...


The Mortuary's text goes on to say; Do you not Fathom, O Mortal, that you are so much more than a mere wedding guest? More than some doting debutante or royal foxtrot! You, Dearest, are the most important part of the night’s ceremony! It is an honor… To perpetually fill the Wedding Cup with the red wine of your life blood …to fatten the Mortuary’s larder with delectable delicacies for the Grand Feast… this Honor is yours, O Mortal, and yours alone! Indeed, what a delicious honor! 

Some of you will indeed taste the rich nectar of the Nights Herald, and slip beneath the intoxicating waves of the Red Sea, only to be reborn in our own image, a Creature of the Night, feeling your life’s sweet essence become one with the Tribes of the Moon. And, yet, others will sink irrevocably into an eternal oblivion deep down into the still, black void...Drink in the Darkness". (fade to Black)


Saddened by the news of Paul Reuben's passing after a six year fight with lung cancer we pay tribute.

Paying tribute on Instagram at the time of Paul Reubens death earlier this month, was Weird Al Yankovic, who said: "What a dear, sweet man. He was always so lovely to me and my family, and we’re all so enormously sad today." Paul, is best known for his character of Pee-Wee Herman.
"The world lost an icon, and I lost an old friend. We love you, Paul." Eric Appel, who directed the movie Weird the Al Yankovic biopic,  and thinking about a biopic on Reubens, was asked who he wanted to play Paul. Eric said he would like to get actor Jorma Taccone to take on the role.

He had previously starred as the Pee-wee Herman character in WEIRD and is one-third of the sketch comedy troupe The Lonely Island, with childhood friends Andy Samberg and Akiva Schaffer. Below, we pay tribute to Paul with a not-too-shabby rendition of Pee-Wee's voice on IFC's Thanksgiving promo.



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Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Sag/Aftra Members Still Wanting a Fair Share

What has Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers (AMPTP) said about the SAG/AFTRA strike?

In a statement on July 13, the AMPTP said, according to ABC News, "We are deeply disappointed that SAG-AFTRA has decided to walk away from negotiations. This is the Union’s choice, not ours. According to SAG/AFTRA's national executive director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, and Fran Drescher union president, this strike is the result of big corporations that refuse to treat our members fairly. 

“Are they willing to give actors true informed consent about the use of their own face, voice, body, likeness in the creation of artificial intelligence digital doubles of them? ‘No.’“Do actors get to have minimum wage increases that keep up with inflation? ‘No.’

“Do actors get to have a share of the streaming revenue that has been created because of their faces and their voices on these new platforms, these new businesses these companies are creating? ‘No. We don’t even want to talk about it.’

And it’s not okay, and we are standing up and we are saying ‘No’ to that…This is a united membership who are standing together and are saying ‘No’ to an unfair deal. Are saying ‘No’ to disrespect from these companies.”

In a union memo signed by Fran and Duncan, SAG-AFTRA members were ordered “to cease rendering all services and performing all work covered by the TV/Theatrical Contracts” once the strike begins.

Amid the writers' strike, many shows had already paused production and will continue to be on hold indefinitely amid the SAG/AFTRA strike. Deadpool 3 was one of the first major films to shut down production. Insiders anticipate that Beetlejuice 2, Gladiator 2 and Wicked could also be affected. There is a loophole for some shows filming overseas, however.

The folks at People Magazine have learned that the Game of Thrones prequel, House of the Dragon, will be allowed to continue shooting its upcoming second season as an Equity contract production. 

"Since the cast is mostly comprised of actors who work under Equity, the sister union to SAG-AFTRA in the U.K., they are not advised to participate in the current strike. The same rule could apply to HBO’s Industry and Max’s Dune spinoff series Dune: The Sisterhood, which also operate under Equity rules"(The Wrap/People).

What can’t actors do during the SAG/AFTRA strike? 

According to the memo, that includes “principal on camera work,” such as acting, singing, dancing, performing stunts, piloting on-camera aircraft, puppeteer-ing and performance capture or motion capture work. In other words, any work on TV shows and movies comes to a halt, shutting down production completely.

Off-camera work that is forbidden includes re-recording dialogue, voice acting, narration and stunt coordination. Promoting new projects — including tours, personal appearances, and attendance at premieres and screenings, is also not allowed. Interviews are also off the table, as well as podcast appearances and promotion on social media. Actors cannot appear at any conventions, fan expos or festivals in order to promote “any project that was made under the TV/theatrical agreement.” 

The SAG/AFTRA Foundation Emergency Financial Assistance and Disaster Relief Fund, confirmed Monday, that "Dwayne Johnson contributed a 7-figure to its charitable Emergency Financial Assistance Program". It's a historic and single largest donation since the foundation was created in 1985. Says: Courtney B.Vance, President of SAG/AFTRA's Foundation,"It's a call to arms for all of us". Courtney had drafted a letter to 2,700 of the union’s highest-earning actors outlining the financial need that many would face in the work stoppage. In no time from sending Courtney's letter, Johnson’s team reached out to the foundation to say Dwayne wanted to help. So, he and Vance hopped on a phone call.

Well, guess what came in the mail yesterday...Bill Shatner's 'Dear Tom' reminder, outlining the benefits of the Hearing Life hearing aids. 

Yep, We'd like to echo that. And, oh, one more thing...


                    K%$#H#!%$A!%$#N !

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Monday, June 26, 2023

WHAM - Hearinglife - G.Willig ~ courtesy of TC & Company

Hey, guess what we saw after someone asked us for a path to our pal George Willig? It was an Article printed about George Willig ten days ago, featuring an opening link to the video we made of George: "Unclimbable". It's a 'how it happened' video that's light on production and effects, but unveils some behind-the-scene nuggets of George's World Trade Center climb of the south tower, May 26, 1977.

I haven't even had a chance to ask George if he knows he's back on top again. And after all, it was his 46th anniversary of the climb a month ago. 

Plus, it's getting some sort of algorithm churning in all our behalf's.


Check out a multi-link representation of the climb and related stories that affected George with our 45th Anniversary post in May of last year (on the line just below).

We featured the CNN’s Original Series “The Story of Late Night" on HBO Max after noticing they were using a clip of George on David Letterman's Morning Show more than 40 years earlier. And it was being used without his permission. For whatever it's worth, I had booked George on that show, which aired on September 19th, 1980. We wound up getting an agreeable sum for George and a copy of the actual clip being used...finally.

We're still awaiting the clients video link from their roll-out ad drive for Tinol Paints. We did a voice-over for their TV spots titled: "We put things in Place". 

The campaign is a cross between mis-combobulated word signage to emphasize how the politicizing of colors can speak in a thousand ways and how it plays into their theme of where is our colorful spirit. 

Here's an abbreviated version of it.

Stefan Nedelman's legacy (resume) is ever growing. From whence we worked together on the voice track of Terminal Bar to doing the animation, main title graphics or generating images using textual prompts for a number of Hollywood films, including the new Netflix documentary: WHAM!

Yeah, those guys - George Michael & Andrew Ridgeley, who in 1982, formed the band (Wham). The plot begins in 1982, the best of friends and still teenagers - George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley as WHAM set out to conquer the world. By June of 1986, they played their very last gig at Wembley Stadium having done exactly that. 

And it's better than ever...Stefan has been steadily busy with a work sheet that's including - Stable Deffusion. Check out his newest releases: "Con Queen of Hollywood" and "McMahon".

Why, we almost forget to mention our newest slice of good fortune of being up-for-the-part in a "HearingLife" voice-over with William Shatner.

Got-a-call from an old contact and they want me for a national cable campaign for the guy asking Bill about the wonders of HearingLife, hearing care centers of specialists and audiologists.


Of course, this comes on the heels of a looming SAG/Aftra union strike. Like they can't make this sh..stuff up!

On July 14, 2023, at 3:00 am officially, the nations actors' union, SAG-AFTRA, went on strike over an ongoing labor dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. It has coincided with a Writers Guild of America strike as part of broader Hollywood labor disputes.

Fran Drescher, SAG/Aftra president, gave a rousing impassioned speech just after the decision to strike. She cited the "entire business model has been changed by streaming, digital and A.I." and it was being foisted upon the actors without equitable compensation. She mentions that "there's no way to predict" how long the strike will last.



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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

WGA Strike is Ka-booming...SAG/Aftra Strikes are Looming

 Special Strike Edition

(May 3rd, 2023) — WGA - The union represent-ing 11,500 writers of film, TV and other entertainment has launched a strike. For the first time in 15 years, as Hollywood girded for a walkout with potentially widespread ramifications in a fight over fair pay in the streaming era.

(May 26,2023) As the Writers Guild of America strike wraps up its fourth week today -- with no end in sight -- the strikers will break from the picketing script that's defined the first month of their walkout and will, instead, take part in what's expected to be a large, multi-union rally in downtown. 

The strike has been having an impact on television viewing, with late-night talk shows and "Saturday Night Live'' all forced into reruns. The walkout has also prompted numerous television and film productions to shut down as other union members refused to cross the picket lines. The last WGA strike lasted from November 2007 until February 2008.

SagAftra unions are marking our solidarity with WGA. On a project that continues production while the WGA is on strike, you are legally obligated to continue working  in any capacity covered ... and employed under both capacities on a production, such as writer/actor, you must continue working as an actor. 

Sag-Aftra is nearing the end of its contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the Hollywood studios, and last week, its leaders called for a strike authorization vote as labor negotiations approach. Watch Celeb Members ask to Vote

The AMPTP has pushed back against some of the WGA's demands, particularly around its calls for mandatory staffing and employment guarantees on programs. AMPTP has also pushed back against WGA demands around streaming residuals, saying the guild's offer would increase rates by 200%.

The use of artificial intelligence has emerged as a major topic as well. 

The WGA says it wants a ban on the use of AI, and contends the AMPTP has refused to even negotiate the issue. The AMPTP said the issue raises "important creative and legal questions" and requires "a lot more discussion, which we've committed to doing."

Fran Drescher (President Sag/Aftra) wrote: On June 7, Sag-Aftra will enter into negotiations with the trade association representing major studios, streamers and production companies

We are united in support of the WGA and I thank all of the Sag-Aftra members who are showing solidarity with their strike. For those who haven’t yet been able to do so, I hope you will join me and others in supporting the writers on a picket line. 

As a member of the WGA, I can say firsthand the contributions made by writers cannot be undermined, diminished or cheapened. I’ve said it a thousand times, “If it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage!”

Even while we are showing strong public support to our sister union, we are privately finalizing and preparing for our own negotiations. Let me unpack that process briefly so you can feel confident that no stone has been left unturned. 

We must focus on modernizing our outdated and conservative contract. It is essential that we reshape our agreement to better reflect the new digital, A. I. ramifications and streaming business model that is rapidly changing our industry.

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