Actors to strike? Posted November 29, 2008

Actors to strike?

Hollywood is on the brink of another costly strike as the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) is to send out strike ballot papers to members next month. A strike could come as early as January, halting TV & Movie production and signing the death certificate of some TV shows.

Lengthy talks to avert a strike ended with nothing earlier this week, despite the fact that federal negotiators were trying to broker the deal to prevent an economically disastrous strike.

DVD residuals are once again at the center of the battle, actors are calling for a greater income from sales of DVDs but production companies are unsurprisingly against this. Actors also want a greater share of "new media" profits, like when their work is played on sites like or bought from iTunes or Amazon Unbox.

The producers union, the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, says the current economic situation, and the fact that the Internet is very much new & untested ground, means that they can't give a greater share of the earnings.

The actors' contract expired June 30th this year, and Hollywood has been living borrowed time since then as a second costly strike looked ever more likely.

The consequences of a strike would be huge. Production of TV shows & movies would grind to a halt, devastating the already fragile economy of California, and struggling shows could find themselves not returning from a strike. Last year's strike is regarded by many as the reason shows such as Bionic Woman were cancelled despite mild popularity. More popular shows like The Big Bang Theory would most likely be secure from cancellation, but the strike could still dent viewing figures and would  mean another season with a smaller number of episodes.

Around 12 episodes of The Big Bang Theory are in the can right now, with two of those set to air before Christmas. If production was halted in January, it would go off air quite quickly.

We'll be following the situation and keeping you informed.

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