This is Day 96 of the SAG-AFTRA strike.
Zachary Quinto, Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange joined a SAG-AFTRA picket Tuesday in New York City as members of their union paid tribute to the strike captains who have run the picket lines at multiple locations in Manhattan during the past 96 days, including the week since talks between striking actors and the studios collapsed.
With them at the morning rally in front of NBCUniversal headquarters at Rockefeller Plaza was another union crew: members and staff of Broadway’s theatrical Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC).
“What you are fighting for — fair wages, participation in success and the stewarding of your craft — are all things the members of SDC understand,” the union’s executive director, Laura Penn, told picketers.
The 3,275-member SDC is in contract talks with the Broadway League, the trade association representing theater owners and theatrical producers, and thus far has not authorized a strike.
“It’s a tough environment to be making a deal,” Penn told Deadline earlier, alluding to Broadway’s post-Covid box office struggles.
But she credited a surge in labor activism nationally, SAG-AFTRA included, with steeling the SDC’s members for negotiations. “The activation of the labor movement in this country is absolutely present in our sense of self,” Penn said, “and it has also strengthened our members’ resolve to articulate and put on the table what our needs are.”
The SAG-AFTRA strike captains — who handle daily setup and tear-down of picket lines and keep marchers moving and on message — were hailed by the president of the union’s New York local, Ezra Knight, as the backbone of their effort to win a favorable deal from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
“We feel you in the negotiating room,” Knight said, while acknowledging the turn of events that has dampened hopes for a quick deal following the settlement of the Writers Guild strike.
“We are on a journey,” Knight said. “It’s an arduous, tough, difficult journey but we’re gonna make it.”
Dann Fink, a New York-based voice casting director and actor, said that the studio and streaming CEOs walked out of negotiations with SAG-AFTRA last week over “pennies” — specifically a union proposal to levy a 57-cent per-subscriber fee on streamers every year to help compensate union members.
“Can’t even mail a letter for that amount of money,” Fink, who belongs to SAG-AFTRA and SDC, told picketers. “And that is what they called a bridge too far.”
Quinto spoke to Deadline about “all of the people industrywide who are affected by this shutdown.”
“The directors, the production designers, the caterers — there are so many people who are affected by this work stoppage, and it’s something that the AMPTP could resolve quickly and easily if they only see beyond their own interests and recognize that we are all in this industry together,” he said in an interview. “We all contribute, and we have to be compensated.
“And, really, the position that they’re adopting is both dismissive and disrespectful to us,” the Star Trek actor and American Horror Story Emmy nominee added. “We’re not asking for them to give up more than what we deserve. And that is almost nothing to them, almost nothing financially in terms of their self-interest.”
The production company executives are “driven by greed and a hunger for power that represents an old paradigm,” Quinto said. “And everybody that’s showing up in solidarity, all of the people from other unions that are coming out to support SAG-AFTRA at this time are representing the new paradigm, and one that we will move into one way or another.”