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Tentative deal ends actors' 118-day historic strike against Hollywood studios

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The Hollywood actors' strike ended at midnight, 118 days after it began. The union, SAG-AFTRA, reached a tentative new contract with the major studios and streaming companies.

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Now, members of the union still need to ratify the proposed contract, but now they'll be able to get back to work. Now, just a note - many of us at NPR are members of SAG-AFTRA, but under a different contract, and we were not on strike.

FADEL: NPR's Mandalit del Barco has been covering the actors' strike since it began, and she joins us from Los Angeles. Good morning, Mandalit.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: Good morning. Finally.

FADEL: Yes. So what do we know about this agreement?

DEL BARCO: Yeah, well, we are not privy to all the details yet, but the union's negotiating committee is calling it a billion-dollar deal of, quote, "extraordinary scope." In a statement, they said the agreement includes increases in compensation, a bonus for participating in streaming shows, and - very key to the actors, dancers, voiceover actors, stunt performers - are protections from artificial intelligence. The negotiators say they're thrilled about the deal that they voted for unanimously. And last night, at a party after the deal was announced, committee member and actress Shari Belafonte told The Hollywood Reporter that she was especially proud of the AI protections.

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SHARI BELAFONTE: This was monumental. We could not have done this without the solidarity, the support and the love that we felt from the picket lines.

FADEL: So throughout the strikes, things seemed pretty tense between the union and major studios and streamers, right?

DEL BARCO: That's true. The studios and streaming company heads originally said the actors' and the writers' demands were not realistic and too expensive, and union leaders chastised the executives for being greedy. But as the strike dragged on, the executives seemed less fiery and more interested in getting a deal done, and they stepped in to personally bargain with the union hours before the deal was announced. This is what Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav and Disney CEO Bob Iger had to say.

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DAVID ZASLAV: We recognize that we need our creative partners to feel valued and rewarded and look forward to both sides getting back to the business of telling great stories.

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BOB IGER: Obviously, we'd like to try to preserve a summer of films. The entire industry is focused on that. We don't have much time to do that.

DEL BARCO: So many film premieres have been delayed because of the strikes, and the upcoming TV season had been in jeopardy. It's not clear how long it will take to start productions again, but a lot of people are raring to go. But on the other hand, there may be far fewer TV shows for the actors to be in.

FADEL: What are union members saying about the deal?

DEL BARCO: Well, from what I've seen, relief that it's finally over. SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher hopped on social media to celebrate the victory, and so did the members of the negotiating committee. Actor Zac Efron found out the news at last night's premiere of the wrestling movie "The Iron Claw."

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ZAC EFRON: I'm so happy that we're all able to come to an agreement. Let's get back to work. Let's go. I'm so stoked.

FADEL: So what happens now?

DEL BARCO: Well, the union leaders have to send the tentative contract to the national board, and then their 160,000 members will vote whether or not to ratify it. But already, union leaders ended the strike last night and said no one will be picketing any more.

FADEL: NPR culture correspondent Mandalit del Barco in Los Angeles. Thanks, Mandalit.

DEL BARCO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.
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