Studios Adjust AI Language in Push to End SAG-AFTRA Strike

UPDATED: Hollywood’s major studios have agreed to adjust language on artificial intelligence as they move closer to a contract agreement to end the 117-day SAG-AFTRA strike.

Union negotiators met Monday night with the leaders of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. In the meeting, the two sides appear to have resolved some of the pending issues on AI, which has become the central focus of the talks over the last 10 days.

More from Variety

SAG-AFTRA leaders went into a meeting in the early afternoon Tuesday with the union’s negotiating committee. The hope is that the latest movement on AI will be enough to seal the deal.

At 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, the committee informed members that it had met for 10 hours, and would continue to talk on Wednesday. The committee also indicated that its deliberations are nearing an end.

“We appreciate your patience and support while we finish our work,” the union said.

The union issued a statement on Monday afternoon saying that there remained differences on “several essential items,” including AI. The union delivered its latest formal proposal to the AMPTP on Monday morning, after working a 12-hour day on Sunday.

Aside from AI, the union was still working on a mechanism to apportion a new bonus in streaming residuals. The studios have offered to award actors a 100% bonus on their standard streaming residual if they appear on one of the most-watched shows on a platform.

The deal also includes a sizable bump in minimum rates, which the studios have characterized as the largest increase in 40 years. It’s expected to be in the 7%-8% range in most cases — less than the 11% that SAG-AFTRA sought but higher than the 5% that the AMPTP agreed to in deals with the writers and directors unions.

The AMPTP issued its “last, best and final” offer on Friday. On Saturday, a large group of CEOs held a Zoom meeting with Fran Drescher, the president of SAG-AFTRA, and Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the chief negotiator, to encourage them to take the deal.

The studios have warned that a deal is needed imminently in order to salvage a portion of the broadcast TV schedule. As the days go by, more and more feature films have been postponed as well.

It was not yet clear whether the changes agreed to on Monday would win the endorsement of the union’s negotiating committee.

The union was said to have reached a common understanding on certain thorny AI issues, such as how to handle an AI consent in the event that an actor dies. But the union did not get every item on its list.

The AMPTP has committed to continue meeting over the next two and half years until the next negotiation to discuss AI, as the technology advances.

(Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.)

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Click here to read the full article.