SAG-AFTRA, the union representing more than 160,000 television and movie actors, voice artists, and other entertainment professionals, has gone on strike, and the events industry is feeling the effects. San Diego Comic-Con, one of the West Coast’s biggest conventions, kicks off on July 20 but will have much less star power.
The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) members have joined the more than 11,000 members of the Writers Guild of America who have been on strike since the start of May, impacting not only Hollywood but the events industry as well.
“There has been a sea change in the entertainment industry, from the proliferation of streaming platforms to the recent explosion of generative AI, and at stake is the ability of our members to make a living,” said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the SAG-AFTRA national executive director and chief negotiator. “We must ensure that new developments in the entertainment industry are not used to devalue or disrespect the performers who bring productions to life.”
In a subsequent memo signed by union president Fran Drescher and Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA members were ordered: “To cease rendering all services and performing all work.”
Union actors cannot appear at any conventions, fan expos, or festivals in order to promote any project that was made under the TV/theatrical agreement, Crabtree-Ireland said at a press conference announcing the strike.
Comic-Con to Have Less Star Power
This will greatly impact Comic-Con as it has historically been a gathering spot for A-list celebrities. Take last year when Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Rosario Dawson, Paul Rudd, Kesha, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, and Hugh Grant were in attendance.
The strikes will have more far-reaching effects than just Comic-Con. Jordan Kaye, the founder and CEO of Analog Events and a director on the International Live Events Association (ILEA) International Board of Governors, explains.
“As an events company, our operations heavily rely on collaborations with various unions throughout the year. These unions encompass not only SAG actors walking the red carpet but also those working within hotels, stadiums, and convention centers where our events take place. Although our clients may occasionally express discontent over the associated union fees and costs, it is paramount to recognize the significance of upholding labor standards as a unified entity. Without the indispensable contributions of these unions, events would simply be impossible to execute,” said Kaye.
Speaking Engagements to Supplement Income?
Jaki Baskow, founder and CEO of Baskow Talent and Las Vegas Speakers Bureau, has started getting calls from actors asking about keynote speaking engagements. “My phone has been ringing off the hook, but I really do hope for a speedy resolution,” said Baskow.