LOS ANGELES (AP) — Unionized Hollywood actors on the verge of a strike have agreed to allow a last-minute intervention from federal mediators but say they doubt a deal will be reached by a negotiation deadline late Wednesday.
“We are committed to the negotiating process and will explore and exhaust every possible opportunity to make a deal, however we are not confident that the employers have any intention of bargaining toward an agreement,” the Screen Actors Guild -American Federation of Radio and Television Artists said in a statement Tuesday night.
The actors could join the already striking Writers Guild of America and grind the already slowed production process to a halt if no agreement is reached with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The sides agreed to an extension before the original contract expiration date on June 30, resetting it to Wednesday at 11:59 p.m.
Issues on the table in negotiations include the unregulated use of artificial intelligence and effects on residual pay brought on by the streaming ecosystem that has emerged in recent years.
“People are standing up and saying this doesn’t really work, and people need to be paid fairly,” Oscar-winner Jessica Chastain, who was nominated for her first Emmy Award Wednesday for playing Tammy Wynette in “George & Tammy," told The Associated Press. “It is very clear that there are certain streamers that have really kind of changed the way we work and the way that we have worked, and the contracts really haven’t caught up to the innovation that’s happened."
Growing pessimism surrounding the talks seemed to turn to open hostility when SAG-AFTRA released a statement Tuesday night.
It came in response to a report in Variety that a group of Hollywood CEOs had been the force behind the request for mediation, which the union said was leaked before its negotiators were informed of the request.
The AMPTP declined comment through a representative. It's not clear whether federal mediators have agreed to take part, but such an intervention would presumably require more time than the hours left on the contract.
“The AMPTP has abused our trust and damaged the respect we have for them in this process," the SAG-AFTRA statement said. "We will not be manipulated by this cynical ploy to engineer an extension when the companies have had more than enough time to make a fair deal.”
AP National Writer Jocelyn Noveck contributed to this report.