EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW. Joely Fisher Secretary-Treasurer of SAG-AFTRA, the largest union in the entertainment industry in the world, in an interview with Amanda Ospina, director of TVMAS


Joely Fisher. Photo credit: courtesy of SAG-AFTRA

HOLLYWOOD’S CORPORATE GREED. Machismo, mafia, racism, and discrimination?

“Streaming platforms are the Wild West.” We are approaching monopolies and their shareholders do not care what is on their platforms. Many of these companies, instead of creating current content, bought, and put up “library” content.

“We are at a fundamental crossroads about to be resolved. Hopefully this week when TVMAS publishes this interview we will already have our list of requests resolved.”

“We have created security barriers in the face of the clear and present danger of Artificial Intelligence.”

“The union works to get the contracts we all deserve and say ‘no more’ to corporate greed.”

The strike leaves a historical mark on the part of its re-elected president, Fran Drescher and Joely Fisher Secretary-Treasurer, as well as the strong position of the members of the SAG-AFTRA union against what was believed to be “untouchable Hollywood.”

How hard and difficult have the negotiations been and why?

We are in a pivotal, once in a generation crossroads in our industry. The landscape of the business model has changed radically. On July 14, 2023 The negotiating committee unanimously voted to walk out on strike after bargaining in good faith for 35 days and with the 98% strike authorization from the membership in our back pocket. The negotiations have been intense but we are taking the necessary measures to get our members the contract we all deserve.

There are those who consider that on the one hand: there are “some mafias” in Hollywood, and on the other: there is racism, machismo, and discrimination. What is your opinion and tell me if the union fights against these issues?

Hollywood is a union town and has been historically. (80 years) We have a decades long agreement to bargain between unions and employers. We are in a time where our national administration is pro union as well. There is a labor movement across this country. WE have been galvanized to eschew corporate greed and give the power back to the American worker, to the people. In terms of racism and discrimination, as an industry we have made strides, however we can always do better. The union currently has in place protections against this and continue to make headway.

What is the impact of the strike on a content-based industry? Especially on platforms, for example, Disney+, that are highly dependent on original productions?

Streaming Platforms are the Wild West. Born from radio in the 1920’s-40’s to broadcast television from the 40’s to present. You needed 100’s of television stations across the nation and that limited the ad-based exhibition possibilities. Enter the Internet!!! Currently, although there will always be a thirst for new “content” the market is saturated with exhibition platforms owned by “big tech” We need a separation of “church and state”. With this “vertical integration” we edge into monopolies and even anti-trust type situations. In my opinion the people who make the iPhones and their shareholders don’t care at all about what’s on their streaming platform. With the strike..we saw a lot of these companies in lieu of creating current content, they bought up and put on “library” content.

Finally, what are the achievements to date?

Key points in these negotiations were putting guardrails around the clear and present danger of Artificial Intelligence. It is vital to harness the power of a technology that is here to stay. We need to make sure performers likenesses are only used with consent and compensation. This complex technology threatens the humanity of the creative. We need a proper calculous for streaming residual formulas, to address the problems that our Pension and Health plans are fraught with. We needed to establish guidelines surrounding the SelfTape Audition process. We fight for wage increases that are commensurate with the rate of inflation. We are the largest entertainment industry labor union, 160k members of actors, broadcasters, singers, dancers, stunt and background performers, pilots and puppeteers…we always seek a contract that represent equity for all of these creatives.

By the time you read this… I am hopeful that we have come to terms on a fair and equitable deal that provides creative and economic justice.

This is how this admirable and brilliant woman Joely Fisher, part of the board of directors of the largest entertainment union in the world, responded to the director of TVMAS Amanda Ospina.

Readacción TVMAS

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