For the first Real Time episode of 2024, Bill Maher sat down with California Gov. Gavin Newsom to talk about the Hollywood strikes last year.
During their conversation, the governor defended his behind-the-scenes role during most of the actors and writers strikes that brought the film and TV industry to a halt for several months.
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Maher specifically asked Newsom why he didn’t get “more involved” to get the negotiations impacting one of the state’s largest industries resolved.
“Why couldn’t the governor say, ‘This is an important industry in our state, one of our most important. You knuckleheads are gonna find a number that you agree on at some point, it always happens. Instead of putting these people out of work for all these months and all the suffering and heartache, can we just get it done today?'” the host asked.
Newsom responded, “Well, we did all of that, except the knucklehead part, [and it] was expressed on multiple occasions, down here on many, many different occasions.”
The governor said he “absolutely” met with people on both sides of the table, adding, “Not only meeting with both sides, meeting with individuals, phone calls, text messages, emails, working behind the scenes, national groups, state groups. So it is all part of the art of the possible in the deal, in the context of not showing your cards and showing a bias upfront, so you can be constructive behind the scenes when both parties call you when you are needed. … Sometimes you are more public, sometimes it is done behind the scenes.”
Early into the writers strike in May 2023, Newsom shared in a statement that “when called in by both sides we’ll intervene, to the extent both sides are willing and interested in that.” But after that statement, Newsom seemed to remain quiet about the matter, at least on the public front.
Then at the end of July, months into the strikes, Newsom said he had contacted all parties of the strike to help broker a deal. But his senior adviser for communications, Anthony York, noted that neither studios nor actors and writers had shown interest in bringing Newsom to the negotiating table.
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