Fran Drescher may have injected some Buddhism into SAG-AFTRA’s online meeting today on the new tentative agreement with the studios, but there was almost nothing monastic about the guild president’s opinion of critics of the November 8 deal.
“I just want you to know that nobody was thrown under the bus,” Drescher told a self-described Official Member Informational Meeting on Zoom this morning of less-than-stellar assessments of the agreement that SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP reached last week after a 118 days strike that shut Hollywood down for months.
More from Deadline
“If you read things like that, it’s very inflammatory and unfortunate because it’s using social media and chat rooms to advance someone’s personal agenda,” the recently overwhelmingly re-elected SAG-AFTRA president add, stressing she wasn’t “going to name names” Monday.
Still, while not mentioning the likes of Justine Bateman, it was pretty clear who Drescher was referring to in the virtual meeting. Decrying “naysayers” and “low-level people who are buzzing,” the union chief addressed the dozens and dozens of members on the Zoom with a hard swipe at “principled people who will vote over one issue or kill an entire deal that benefits so many because of one issue that was not obtained — and I implore you to not think that way.”
On November 10, a SAG-AFTRA National Board meeting went much longer than anticipated as debate over the deal raged behind closed doors. In the end, Drescher and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland emerged late Friday afternoon to reveal that nearly 14% of the board had voted against taking the deal to the general membership for ratification — a stark contrast to the uniformity DGA and WGA leaders brought to the equivalent votes earlier this year.
As details have dribbled out of the language and scope of the new deal with the studios, Bateman and others have spotlighted the shortcomings of the hard-fought agreement on issues such as AI protections and success-based bonuses for streaming shows. “Bottom line, we are in for a very unpleasant era for actors and crew,” the Family Ties alum and guild AI adviser cautioned on November 11 online. “The use of ‘digital doubles’ alone will reduce the number of available jobs, because bigger-name actors will have the opportunity to double- or triple-book themselves on multiple projects at once,” Bateman stated, strategically noting the fallout to IATSE and Teamsters members – both of whom have contract negotiations of their own coming next year.
You are a complex & remarkable human. Don’t let the CEOs convince you otherwise. Seek out filmmakers & showrunners who value your basic worth & committed to human workers on their projects. These are the ones who will make work that matters. We’re going to be OK. Just hold on. /
— Justine Bateman (@JustineBateman) November 12, 2023
As eligible members of the 160,000-strong SAG-AFTRA start the three-week voting process Tuesday on ratifying the tentative agreement, a PR battle is taking shape to sell the deal – with today’s meeting the first of many with members to come over the next few weeks.
“This deal has set the groundwork for our future and generations to come, it is major,” an already-campaigning Drescher said Monday in a sharp tone with language she has used many times since the AMPTP and the guild buried the hatchet last week on the new three-year deal. “We didn’t get that, but we got this, this, this and this, and we’ll get that next time. In negotiation, you have to weigh and measure and make your informed decision on behalf of the greater good.”
In that vein, a fully-informed decision might not be possible for SAG-AFTRA members this year before they vote on the tentative agreement.
“I know there’s been a lot of people who have asked about the full Memorandum of Agreement and when or if they’ll be able to see that,” Crabtree-Ireland said today of the 128-page document after delving into details of the deal and before taking questions.
“I want to just know that has never been the case in the past that we’ve had a Memorandum of Agreement done in time for the ratification process,” the guild National Executive Director added. “This contract negotiation is even more expansive than any of the prior ones — certainly than I’ve been involved in my last 23 years here. We will do our best to try and get that completed in time to publish it for purposes of the ratification vote but the 18-page summary of the agreement is what we have ready now, and that’s what’s posted. I think that should, you know, that’s been what we’ve always published in the past and has very detailed and extensive information about what’s been agreed to in the in the contract.
“So we definitely will do the best we can on that front, but just wanted to let everybody know what to expect there,” Crabtree-Ireland said.
Since the “unprecedented” deal, as SAG-AFTRA brass have called it, with the AMPTP was announced late last week, the guild has held a press conference on the agreement, and Drescher and Crabtree-Ireland have given innumerable interviews. On November 10, after the presser at SAG-AFTRA HQ on Wilshire Blvd, the guild put out an expanded bullet points, followed late last night by that aforementioned 18-page summary.
Today’s members-only online huddle was the latest session in the leadership’s push to seal the deal. In that context, the persuasive Drescher and Crabtree-Ireland have a public ally from the other side of the table. Telling Deadline last night that he is “definitely” happy with the deal, Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos added, “It’s all in front of the members now, so it’s up to them to ratify it.”
Very Zen of the exec, who was one of the CEO Gang of Four who directly participated in the final round of talks with the guild.
Best of Deadline