Hollywood Actors Authorize Strike as Writers Still Out 

The iconic Hollywood sign is shown on a hillside above a neighborhood in Los Angeles California, US, February 1, 2019. (Reuters)
The iconic Hollywood sign is shown on a hillside above a neighborhood in Los Angeles California, US, February 1, 2019. (Reuters)
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Hollywood Actors Authorize Strike as Writers Still Out 

The iconic Hollywood sign is shown on a hillside above a neighborhood in Los Angeles California, US, February 1, 2019. (Reuters)
The iconic Hollywood sign is shown on a hillside above a neighborhood in Los Angeles California, US, February 1, 2019. (Reuters)

The Hollywood's actors union voted to authorize a strike if contract talks break down, turning up the heat on major film and television studios already grappling with a monthlong work stoppage by writers.

After voting closed on Monday, SAG-AFTRA said 97.91% of ballots cast supported a strike authorization. Nearly 65,000 members, or about 48% of those eligible, voted on the measure.

"Bravo SAG-AFTRA. We are in it to win it," Fran Drescher, the union's president, said in a statement.

Talks between the 160,000-member union, Hollywood's largest, and the major studios are scheduled to start on Wednesday.

No new negotiations are scheduled with the striking Writers Guild of America (WGA), which represents 11,500 film and TV writers. Their walkout has disrupted production of late-night shows and shut down high-profile projects including a new season of Netflix's "Stranger Things" and a "Game of Thrones" spinoff for Warner Bros Discovery's HBO.

Over the weekend, the studios likely averted a second work stoppage by reaching a tentative deal with the Directors Guild of America (DGA). That pact will take effect if DGA members vote to ratify it in the coming weeks.

With the actors, "we are approaching these negotiations with the goal of achieving a new agreement that is beneficial to SAG-AFTRA members and the industry overall," said the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents Walt Disney Co, Netflix Inc and other studios.

A strike by actors would lead to a broader shutdown across Hollywood and increase pressure on studios that need programming to feed their streaming services and the fall TV broadcast schedule.

In the negotiations, actors are seeking higher pay and safeguards against unauthorized use of their images through artificial intelligence. Their current deal expires June 30.

SAG-AFTRA leaders said the industry had changed dramatically with the rise of streaming television and the emergence of new technology such as generative AI.

The coming talks "may be one of the most consequential negotiations in the union's history," said chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland.

"Inflation, dwindling residuals due to streaming, and generative AI all threaten actors’ ability to earn a livelihood if our contracts are not adapted to reflect the new realities," he said.



Taylor Swift Poses with Prince William after 'Splendid' London Concert

Taylor Swift attends a premiere for Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour in Los Angeles, California, US, October 11, 2023. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
Taylor Swift attends a premiere for Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour in Los Angeles, California, US, October 11, 2023. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
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Taylor Swift Poses with Prince William after 'Splendid' London Concert

Taylor Swift attends a premiere for Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour in Los Angeles, California, US, October 11, 2023. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
Taylor Swift attends a premiere for Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour in Los Angeles, California, US, October 11, 2023. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights

Britain's Prince William posed for a photo with US music star Taylor Swift and two of his children, Charlotte and George, at the first night of Swift's Eras tour in London on Friday.

A photo posted on Kensington Palace's X social media feed with the caption "Thank you @taylorswift13 for a great evening!" showed William smiling as Swift took a selfie with him and the children. William celebrated his 42nd birthday on Friday, according to Reuters.

Swift also posted a different photo of her with the royals and her partner Travis Kelce with the message: "Happy Bday M8! London shows are off to a splendid start".

Ahead of the first of her eight shows at London's Wembley Stadium, the city published a special version of its distinctive London Underground map to mark the occasion, and the "Changing of the Guard" ceremony at Buckingham Palace featured a military band rendition of one of her songs.