SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher: ‘We are being victimized by a very greedy entity’

Fran Drescher is president of SAG-AFTRA and I’m not sure if her union members voted for her, believing that she had the stones to go toe-to-toe with the studios and AMPTP. Well, she did. She entered the negotiations in good faith in recent weeks/months, truly hoping that a deal could be made to avoid a SAG-AFTRA strike. AMPTP even brought in federal mediators, I guess as an intimidation tactic to strong-arm SAG into taking a terrible deal. Drescher had the stones to walk away and she called for the strike on Thursday. She gave a barn-burner of a speech announcing it too:

Variety transcribed her speech – go here to read it. She sounded a lot like a working-class union leader, speaking about how the CEOs and Wall Street get greedy and forget about all of the labor they are exploiting. She also said, in part:

“We have a problem, and we are experiencing that right at this moment. This is a very seminal hour for us. I went in in earnest thinking that we would be able to avert a strike. The gravity of this move is not lost on me, or our negotiating committee, or our board members. It’s a very serious thing that impacts thousands, if not millions, of people all across this country and around the world — not only members of this union, but people who work in other industries.

“And so it came with great sadness that we came to this crossroads. But we had no choice. We are the victims here. We are being victimized by a very greedy entity. I am shocked by the way the people that we have been in business with are treating us. I cannot believe it, quite frankly: How far apart we are on so many things. How they plead poverty, that they’re losing money left and right when giving hundreds of millions of dollars to their CEOs. It is disgusting. Shame on them.

“They stand on the wrong side of history at this very moment. We stand in solidarity, in unprecedented unity. Our union and our sister unions and the unions around the world are standing by us, as well as other labor unions. Because at some point, the jig is up. You cannot keep being dwindled and marginalized and disrespected and dishonored. The entire business model has been changed by streaming, digital, AI.

“This is a moment of history and is a moment of truth. If we don’t stand tall right now, we are all going to be in trouble. We are all going to be in jeopardy of being replaced by machines and big business who cares more about Wall Street than you and your family. Most of Americans don’t have more than $500 in case of an emergency. This is a very big deal, and it weighed heavy on us. But at some point you have to say, ‘No, we’re not going to take this anymore. You people are crazy. What are you doing? Why are you doing this?’

[From Variety]

From what I’m seeing on Twitter, the AI stuff is completely bonkers – AMPTP wanted to scan background actors and create AI images of those actors in perpetuity, all while only paying the original background actors for one day of work. In addition to that, none of the streaming companies want the WGA or SAG-AFTRA to sniff around their in-house streaming numbers. Unlike broadcast television, there’s no neutral third-party with the capability to track viewership numbers or “streams,” so for companies like Netflix, Hulu, Paramount, Disney+, they all basically self-report… to their investors. There’s no mechanism for actors and writers to say “hey, my show had 300 million streams, can I be paid more than scale with no residuals?” Anyway, power to the people.

Photos courtesy of Backgrid.

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59 Responses to “SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher: ‘We are being victimized by a very greedy entity’”

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  1. B says:

    They will use AI to replace all of us if they could. A stand has to be taken now or it’s over for labor.

    • teehee says:

      Here’s the thing, this is happening, robots will do many jobs. But if people arent doing them and getting any wages in return, who is going to buy what the robots have produced?

      Do we even need money anymore, if we just have robots doing tasks and we all can just have things because we dont need to pay a robot for its labor?

      There will be no more wealthy people if that happens– so soon they will realize “OH NO, we cant CHARGE robots money!”

      Unless the wealthy just want to pay robots and then charge robots and be a billionaire that way in an exponential speed not possible via human labor only.

      That way, they an make a fake economy based on robot needs– screws, transistors, sensors– and then inflate the price of those robot needs to screw over the robots and create slums and poverty amongst machines, too.

      Lets hope, that the robots will be smarter than those bastards and overrule them once they figure out this scheme.

      The wealthy really arent thinking this through. The slum robots will tie them up and take them on a cruise in their Titan subs.

      • phaedra7 says:

        What you stated has given me “I Robot”/”A.I.” (pun intended) and other movie vibes regarding AI and robotics. Again, these narratives have come from the minds of very creative and imaginative writers. The higher-up/big-wig execs fail–and more than likely don’t care–to realize that WITHOUT THESE PEOPLE THERE WILL NOT NO MOVIES/FILMS, TV SHOWS, MUSICALS, PLAYS, GAMES, ETC. AND THEY WILL NOT HAVE THE INCOME FROM THESE TO OBTAIN! All they can think of is their own wealth plus creature-feature comforts! 🤬

    • Lindy79 says:

      I work in Tech sector and they are already using AI in HR/Finance/Operations in order to cut headcount and automate everything, all to save money and make the rich richer.

      Id say in 2 years I’ll be let go

      Anyone thinking this is just about writers and actors is in for a massive shock

      • teehee says:

        Yeah so a fake robot economy cos guess what, if you dont earn, you dont pay either.

        So first, its poverty of the earth and animals. Then it was poverty of mankind.
        Now, its poverty for machines, too.

        I do hope we get a war with machines (machines against the elite). It would be well deserved.

      • Kitten says:

        My brother is in tech and they use that ChatGPT crap all the time. He hates it.

      • Madi says:

        @lindy I was reading about expresso machines and uk tories on reddit and got upset. It became apparent that most of the replies are ai! They take old replies and join them together to make the bot seem real. Reddit has been flowing with bots for the past 5 years. This is different. This is learning ai.
        We all will be replaced.

    • Jais says:

      I mentioned this yesterday, but I’ve worked with child actors in sets and I’ve seen really young BG kids get scanned for VFX. I don’t know what it said in their contract and I didn’t really think about it at the time but the idea that a companies has some kids likeness and can possibly do anything with it is really scary. They can put that face and body as background in other movies and never pay the kid or ask permission. It’s crazy.

      • Cee says:

        OMG this is like the first episode of Black Mirror’s latest season.

      • ME says:

        Also, ever read the fine print when you upload pics to places like Facebook? It says they have the rights to any pics you post. Now just imagine they sell those images to AI companies. Those AI companies then sell your image to Hollywood. Before you know it, you’re an extra in a movie without even knowing or getting paid for it !

        So many jobs are going to be replaced by AI. I don’t know why anyone would study accounting right now. Robots/AI will easily be able to do taxes, etc. for people. So many careers are going to become obsolete very soon.

      • Mauve says:

        Is Hollywood the only industry doing this? Or is Hollywood the only industry whose contracts and actions been exposed? A lot of entities beyond Hollywood will want this tech. Intelligence, pornographers, unethical news companies to think of a few.

    • StellainNH says:

      The whole AI issue was brought up in a Black Mirror episode called “Joan is Awful”. I believe that we are not to far away from that kind of technology.

    • Lara (the other) says:

      We need some kind of international right to the face and created content. That every person whose face is jused gets paid everytime and has to allow the content and if the content you created is jused to train an AI, you will be paid residuals from the money generated by the AI.
      It might still be cheaper to use generated background actors, but the person will be at least compensated.

      • Jais says:

        Solidarity with the unions for doing the groundwork on this. It’s absolutely sci-fi and it’s happening now. I’m thinking it will go to the courts as well. But paying residuals to BG to use their face is going to amount to what? Actors with lines are barely getting residuals from streamers right now. So what, a BG would get a penny every time a corporation used their image? If it could be worked out equitably maybe?? But it’ll never pay as much as just having a BG on set, which is what helps working actors in between bigger jobs.

      • Lux says:

        They can also get around that by tweaking one or two features and claiming it’s not you anymore. The possibilities to cut costs are endless!

  2. fishface says:

    Every day the revolution comes closer. Viva!

  3. Amy T says:

    Solidarity forever. It’s an important moment and bless Fran for standing up for what’s right and fair.

    {gets ready for a long spell of “Leave it to Beaver” and “X-files” reruns….}

  4. s808 says:

    i think if they had to report their streaming numbers, a lot of questions would be raised. i don’t think it’s as successful as they’re reporting.

    • Yes says:

      Exactly. The streaming business model is a house of cards that is not about entertainment, but about Wall Street. The fact that none of the streaming companies want the WGA or SAG-AFTRA to sniff around their in-house streaming numbers, I suspect is because if investors knew the actual numbers in relation to profit, the stocks would tank. Therefore, AMPTP has to go all in, because if they agree to release streaming numbers, they are capital F F***ED. And this avarice is happening across every industry. Fran is incredible in this clip, and she is exactly the person to lead SAG-AFTRA in this moment. SOLIDARITY.

  5. JD says:

    I am so happy that the actors are now striking, too!
    What the studios want is nuts and will eventually ruin that industry. AI has never lived, loved or lost, so they think in a few years it will be able to write entire scripts?! Ha! And that we as humans want to see avatars of actors rather than actual actors? What utter nonsense!
    Plus, this is the canary in the coal mine – all the other execs in other industries are looking at this and if the AMPTP gets what it wants, other industries will follow suit.
    We need to all organise!
    As always, technology develops quicker than our ethics and thinking around it. And with AI this is X-fold.
    I hope those greedy execs will come to their senses and pay writers and actors what they’re due.
    And don’t we all want to know the actual
    streaming numbers?! I would!

  6. CROWHOOD says:

    May this be another layer in a growing labor movement. The class chasm has deepened so much that people have nothing left to lose.

    • Erin says:

      Yep, solidarity forever.

    • Kitten says:

      Truly. When that submersible went down, I was really surprised and delighted by all the class-conscious folks who came out of the woodwork. I DO feel like there’s a collective awakening and I give the younger generations a lot of credit for that.

      • The Old Chick says:

        Kitten I think the problem is being super rich is so aspirational that how people get there (at the expense of others, often) is ignored. And in America especially, the masses were taught that trickle down economics (reganomics) benefited everyone when it’s not even a real thing. It’s not real. But 2 generations probably believe it. Luckily younger people coming through are questioning what boomers like me and gen x take for granted. I roll my eyes so hard at other oldies longing for the good old days. I always say, they were good because workers had a living wage, people could buy homes, the wealth distribution was more equitable. What I don’t get is why this massive push for AI, putting millions out of work? Sure more profit,coz God knows billionaires need more money, but if the economy collapses because of mass unemployment it’s simply the great depression over again. Make it make sense?

      • Little Red says:

        Economic collapse is for tomorrow, today they can make billions on getting rid of human labor.

        It’s very short-sighted thinking.

      • The Old Chick says:

        Right? Millions unemployed potentially. Suddenly you don’t have customers. Like this is super basic economics. People have been brainwashed into blaming poor people, immigration, women, anyone but the real cause of this shift which is corporate greed. I always say my bit (usually I dig up facts and figures to prove it) the ‘good old days’ means a living wage. Start there. That’s what people are fighting for. But if the great depression comes from mass unemployment, guess who’ll be picking up the corporate tab? Like the gfc: corproratise the profits, socialise the losses. This topic drives me mad (even more than the RF and BM do and that’s saying something! Lol)

  7. Coco Bean says:

    That was an incredibly moving speech.

  8. chill says:

    Solidarity forever!! I’m a proud Union member and went on strike to get better pay and conditions. Stay strong.

  9. Joy says:

    I didn’t have Fran Drescher becoming the union rep face for American workers on my bingo card but here we are.

    • MrsBanjo says:

      Fran has always been super pro-union. She intentionally wrote it into her work like The Nanny and Beautician and the Beast.

  10. Concern Fae says:

    The effect of people’s favorite actors standing on picket lines and explaining how workers are being exploited by greedy companies may bring more people to understand what is really going on with the economy. AKA it’s not the immigrants and welfare bums keeping you living paycheck to paycheck.

    And all of Hollywood accounting is an absolute fraud. Old enough to remember the Art Buchwald trial. He sued over money he should have been paid, based on his contract. The studios folded and settled just before they would have had to actually reveal their accounting rules to the court. As someone said at the time, they couldn’t do that, because the court would have ruled for Buchwald immediately and that would have meant they needed to pay everyone the money they’d been cheated out of.

  11. Brassy Rebel says:

    She’s giving Peter Finch in Network vibes: “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!” I doubt an AI generated actor could give that performance.

  12. Jessica says:

    The Nanny doesn’t play. She is like you f-Ed around and you just found out.

  13. Becks1 says:

    GOOD FOR FRAN. I’m glad she’s being so clear about what’s going on here.

    And the world will know!!

  14. Nicegirl says:


  15. HeyKay says:

    I hope the Unions win.
    I also hope that the millionaires in the Union will financially assist the strikers.
    Fighting for your fair pay and going on strike can cause long lasting money troubles.
    Stick together!

    • HoofRat says:

      I feel like we’re fighting the same battles for labour rights that our forbears did a century ago. My late father grew up (and suffered greatly) during the Great Depression, eventually leaving school in Grade 8 to work to help support his mother and siblings. Luckily, it was a union job, or the company would have mistreated him more than it did. He was not a social man, but he never missed a union meeting because, as he often said, “The big shots are in it for themselves; they don’t care whether workers live or die.” So infuriating that we seem to be going so far backwards now. Cheers for Fran, and Vive La Revolution!

  16. anniefannie says:

    I have close friend who’s a grip and has worked on countless movies and some network shows. He’s repeatedly said of all the Actors he’s worked with, that Fran Drescher was hands down, no competition, his favorite. He described her as very much “ of the people” and treated everyone beautifully and equally.
    She’s ideal to lead this fight..

  17. Laalaa says:

    The way she says LABOUR *stop* at the beginning.. power to her.

  18. Bingo says:

    I was so moved by her speech yesterday. I feel awful for all those involved this feels like this is going to drag on. And the fat cats are more than happy to break the backs of the Union. To keep their numbers secret and exploit AI which is far more advancing in our society than rules and contracts can keep up with. I work in the accounting field and I can’t tell you how heavily our tech consulting arm is investing in AI. It’s bonkers. It’s not just movies and TV that AI will affect the average working person. It will downsize so many of us in different fields.

    Now is the time to take a stand.

  19. Torttu says:

    Could this be a boom for indie theater productions?
    Go SAG, I’m so proud they didn’t take crap from the studio morons!

  20. Gabby says:

    Oh. My. God. I could listen to this all day.

  21. Supersoft says:

    I just love her so much. She has a big heart and is super smart.
    And everything she says is 100 percent spot on.

    • Kitten says:

      And just the unadulterated passion with which she speaks. There’s a reason why she’s SAG-AFTRA president. What a woman.

  22. Beech says:

    I suggest streamers and studios get a clue and watch the movie Bladerunner.

  23. TheVolvesSeidr says:

    I love her, she’s the best. If you’re a Fran fan, you gotta check out @whatfranwore on insta. It’s a lovely account.

  24. ChickieBaby says:

    Go, Fran, Go! I’ve always loved her–she doesn’t back down from a good fight.

    I’m fully siding with WGA and SAG all over the place, but has anybody realized that the viewers who pay for the streaming services wield A LOT of power in this fight? Viewers can push back against the services by dropping them and telling the companies exactly why–you’re not paying for computer-generated crap, so they shouldn’t expect you to watch it. If you pay good money for this entertainment, actual humans need to be making it. If the public is loud with push back and keeps pushing, it only helps all those people in the industry who could lose their jobs because of AI. We don’t have to let that happen.

  25. ME says:

    Damn Fran, the right woman for the job !

    I heard that in the Fall, most of the new shows are going to be Reality TV garbage. I wonder if they can buy shows from international markets and play them in America? There are some really good shows made in other countries. I guess we’ll see what they’ll do if this strike doesn’t end fast.

  26. Penelope Pittstop says:

    Yay for Fran. The entity she warns of is using its media lackeys to attack her already. Scary days for creatives. Stay strong!

  27. Madi says:

    She’s right. Now how are they going to address the elephant in the room??? Rich kids work for free or future role, that they do for free. There are whole movies where no one is paid but catering, security, and possible a gritty background actor. They then promote the movie to death. That knocks out regular films.

  28. bisynaptic says:


  29. EastVillager says:

    I sold a show (a book option) to a major streamer. It went into production and did three seasons. I wasn’t a writer on the show, so I’m not a WGA member, but still – for a producing credit and an option on a deal that literally made millions for the executive producers and execs who handled foreign sales of the show rights, i made about $40K. After taxes, that’s about $23K. Barely enough for a decent used car. No royalties, folks. Just that. For about 8 years of work.

    • MipMip says:

      Thanks for this real-life insight. I’m sorry you were so under-valued. All that work and effort- three seasons, that’s impressive! And only $40k? A perfect example of what they (and all labor) are fighting for now.

  30. Rad says:

    How do you protect against the use of AI? I look at shows like the new Star Trek series that are CGI and AI heavy, “Avatar” where, from the “Making of” videos, the only thing real are the actors eyes where everything else is computer generated. Star Wars used AI bring everyone from Alec Guinness to Peter Cushing back into the stories.

    I hope they can corral it.

  31. Sel says:

    I’m glad people are finally beginning to understand that AI is going to put everyone out of jobs. It really bothered me that so many people thought it was ‘a laugh’ to use AI to make ‘fun’ images, even though it made those images by stealing artist’s work and not compensating them for their work. Everyone needs to stop supporting AI. If an app uses AI, DONT use it. The more we choose to use AI, the more widely it will be implemented. And soon enough it will impact on your jobs too. People need to learn to stand with ALL workers in solidarity, because all workers rights are connected. The CEOs get this which is why they want to make the people striking destitute and so break the strike. The tragedy is too many average people don’t, thanks to decades of individualist, neoliberal propaganda.

  32. bren says:

    kamala is a beast! check it out: