Hollywood Actors Ratify Landmark $1 Billion Deal

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    Hollywood actors voted overwhelmingly to ratify an agreement with the studios, ending a long strike that had halted film and television production.

    known as the Screen Actors Guild Sag Atlasannounced that 78 percent of union members approved the multi-year contract, signaling a “golden era” for SAG-AFTRA as declared by union President Fran Drescher.

    The new contract allocates more than $1 billion for compensation and benefits. SAG-AFTRA Union President Fran Drescher expressed the union's newfound strength and optimism. This important agreement brings economic benefits and introduces important protections for actors against studios' use of artificial intelligence (AI), marking a pivotal moment for the entertainment industry.

    AI Protection: Adding groundbreaking features

    One of the distinctive features of this contract is that it includes protections for actors in the age of artificial intelligence. Concerns among stakeholders about potential job losses led to the negotiation of this important clause as the industry increasingly considers AI-driven technologies. The agreement doesn't completely block generative AI, but it does require studios to notify unions whenever such technology is adopted. SAG-AFTRA will then be able to negotiate compensation for parties as an important safeguard against potential exploitation.

    Alliance of Film and Television Producers (AMPTP) welcomed the ratification of the union contract on behalf of major studios such as Netflix Inc. and Walt Disney Co. In a statement, AMPTP highlighted the positive impact of the vote and said the industry and the jobs it supports can be fully revived.

    Reopening after voting and strikes

    The voting process ended on the U.S. West Coast, with a simple majority required for agreement. With 38 percent of union members voting, this decisive approval paved the way for the actors to return to work and ended a 118-day strike. An interim agreement agreed last month already allowed actors to return to set before it was formally ratified.

    Despite the overall positive results, concerns remained among some union members, particularly regarding the issue of AI. As details of the agreement emerged, actors and writers voiced their concerns on social media. The deal doesn't explicitly ban generative AI, leading some to worry about potential job losses as studios consider creating fully synthetic “actors.” Critics argue that provisions requiring studios to inform unions about their use of AI may not be enough to effectively protect actors.

    negotiate future challenges

    The negotiations leading to the agreement were not without challenges. According to reports, the studio has offered what it considers to be the “last, best, final” offer, including doubling the remaining pay for actors appearing on the popular streaming show. But the proposal faced opposition from union members, raising concerns that actors would be left behind in unpopular shows. The debate was further complicated by the complexity of the wage increase and balance payment structure.

    The use of AI in the entertainment industry has sparked sharp criticism on social media platforms. Some members expressed dissatisfaction with what they believed were insufficient protections for advances in AI. The studio's proposal to reuse scanned images of deceased performers without their consent was derisively referred to as the “zombie clause.” Critics, including prominent writers and actors, argued that such provisions were objectionable and could pave the way for thousands of jobs to be eliminated from the industry.


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