Sunday, 23 November 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #194: SAG's Gonna Go On Strike?

It looks like the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) is heading for a strike. Talks have broken down, attempts at mediation are being rejected, and the mogul's group, the AMPTP has been crowing about how their last offer was their last, best offer, and that nothing will get SAG a better deal.

SAG doesn't think it has much choice, even if they wanted to accept the AMPTP's last offer, they just have to look at the Writers Guild of America and how the AMPTP has failed to live up to the contract that ended the Writer's Strike.

Now this can end badly for both sides, and here's why....


1. SAG is rife with divisions that delayed negotiations from starting, and it was seen as a terrible sign of weakness by the moguls. They couldn't even agree on at least presenting a united front in the face of their mutual enemy, and those divisions could rear their ugly heads again, during the strike, which could destroy their cause.

2. SAG doesn't have a big enough war chest, most of their members are out of work already to pay for A-List salaries, and the Guild could be crippled financially by a protracted strike. Unlike the moguls, they don't have any parent corporations to carry them.

3. The "A-List" will most likely be no help at all. The top 1% of actors are too busy cashing the bloated fees that allow them to jet off for golf weekends in Dubai, to rock the yacht. Because rocking the boat might lead the studios to taking a long hard look at how much they are really worth, and with most of them unable to sell tickets to a bunker during a nuclear war, it could cost them dearly.


1. Film finance investors are getting antsy. With the markets in free fall, credit being crunched they are watching the one legal industry to grow during the Depression shooting itself in the foot through bad management decisions, and bad faith negotiations. They are not going to toss their money into a black hole where only the management seems to profit.

2. Parent companies, and individual and institutional investors could also start getting antsy. There comes a time when their so-called "losses" designed to hide money from the tax-man doesn't seem like such a good idea anymore, when the stock values of the only legal industry to prosper during the Great Depression are tanking worse than sub-prime mortgage brokers. They're going to want such constant litigation, labour actions, and the inevitable governmental interference that comes with it, to stop, and these companies to settle their problems and start paying dividends like a real business or fold.

3. It's only a matter of time before someone decides that the movie studios are too easy a target for a nice white collar crime prosecution. As I've said before, it's too tempting, and the moguls are too busy pissing away their power, by pissing too many people off. Their political clout will only go so far, especially when the unions and shareholders realize that they're both getting screwed.

So it looks like Hollywood is intent on giving itself a meltdown, and they don't even see it coming.

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