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Hollywood Goes Dark As Actors Join Writers In Strike Action

Film and television production in Hollywood has ground to a halt as actors join writers on the picket lines, demanding better pay and protections from the major American studios.

Actors who are members of the SAG-AFTRA union went on strike at midnight today (July 14), joining forces with writers who have been walking picket lines in California since May of this year.

Hollywood studios are now grappling with the first dual work stoppage by actors and writers in 63 years, forcing them to halt multi-million-dollar productions around the world.

SAG-AFTRA represents 160,000 film and television actors. They join the Writers Guild of America (WGA) in demanding increases in base pay and more residual payments from movies and TV shows that appear on streaming platforms.

The unions say they are also concerned about the potential impacts of artificial intelligence (A.I.) on the entertainment industry’s future, potentially replacing human actors and writers.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the trade association that negotiates on behalf of studios such as Netflix (NFLX) and Walt Disney (DIS) said it was disappointed by the strike.

The industry association said it had offered the actors union the highest percentage increases in pay levels in 35 years, as well as better pension and healthcare benefits.

The studios also said they put forward a proposal related to A.I. that would protect actors' digital likenesses.

About 11,500 writers have been on strike since May, forcing the shutdown of several television programs in recent months.

The dual strike by actors and writers is expected to impact the autumn TV schedule and production on big-budget movies, including sequels to the films “Avatar” and “Gladiator.”

Hollywood has not faced a simultaneous strike by actors and writers since 1960, when the two groups hit the picket lines together due to a fight over residual payments from films sold to television networks.