Dispatches From The Picket Lines: Michael Chiklis Calls For Grown-ups To Get Back To The Table & Make A Deal; Dylan McDermott & Dermot Mulroney Confusion; Jury Duty Cast Renders Verdict On Strike
It’s Day 7 of the SAG-AFTRA strike and Day 80 of the WGA strike.
With temperatures reaching 90 degrees in Century City on Thursday afternoon, Michael Chiklis, Cobra Kai co-creator Josh Heald, Dylan McDermott, Dermot Mulroney and his sister-in-law Michele Mulroney, VP of WGA West, led the picket lines at Fox Studios.
Chiklis, a SAG-AFTRA member since 1988, told Deadline he’s walking the pickets to “support my brethren in a really righteous fight for fair and equitable wages for what we do.”
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The Emmy winner most recognized for his role as Vic Mackey in The Shield is asking for cool heads to reunite at the negotiating table to hammer out a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Additionally, he hopes the strike marks a turning point for the industry to be honest about the struggles it faces.
“In fairness, I’ve been trying to put this out there that where we’re culpable as a union and as communicators is that we’ve done a not-so-good job of making people understand what it takes to make film and television shows,” he said. “We tend to focus on the glamorous and glorifying what we do and we’re storytellers, but we’re also quietly terrified to let anybody see that we’re vulnerable because everybody wants to seem very successful. So we’ve painted this picture and this perception that we’re a bunch of spoiled brats that make an inordinate amount of money that really don’t have a leg to stand on and that is wrong and categorically false.”
He continued, “The rank and file of this industry by and large work 85-plus-hour weeks. They toil like you’ve never seen in your life and they still can’t meet their bills or pay for basics and that’s just wrong. The AMPTP for every day now that we’re on strike, they’re losing money and we’re losing money. That’s just to say that they would rather burn the money than work out a deal and that’s wrong as well. So we need to get together and be grown-ups and let’s make a deal.”
McDermott and his friend Dermot Mulroney briefly joked about how often they’re confused for one another while chatting with Deadline, before quickly pivoting to the serious issues at the center of the dual strike.
“Fair is fair and we have simple proposals that are being ignored right now, and it’s disturbing,” said Mulroney, who currently stars in Marvel’s Secret Invasion. “So, in an unprecedented show of unity between the actors and the writers…”
“…we came out together on this important topic because it’s time for wages to increase as well as residuals and to protect ourselves from AI,” added McDermott.
After reading the list of demands released by SAG-AFTRA and the responses from the AMPTP, McDermott said he didn’t think the actor’s union “was asking for that much.” Adding, “I was shocked, actually.”
“This whole thing’s based on the post-payment program is sort of poorly constructed to begin with,” said Dermot Mulroney. “We appreciate our union has tried so hard to keep track of people’s money all these decades, but it’s a very, broken system and it doesn’t apply to how much the industry has changed. We’re just trying to simply upgrade to newer standards in the industry.”
Meanwhile, at Amazon Studios in Culver City, the cast and writers of the Freevee series Jury Duty reunited following the show’s haul of four Emmy nominations including for Outstanding Comedy Series.
Alan Barinholtz, the father of Ike and Jon Barinholtz and a longtime attorney who only recently got into acting, spoke on behalf of the ensemble who he said were “unknowns, for all intents and purposes” aside from James Marsden, “who is truly an actual movie star, and a very handsome one at that.”
“We represent the typical blue-collar actor; the typical union member is lucky if they earn enough in the trade to qualify for health insurance,” he said. “We’re here today because we’re on a show that has achieved incredible success … but we will not be compensated accordingly, in all fairness.”
After saying the Jury Duty team hit a “grand slam” with the success of the show, “we blue-collar actors earn just enough from the most popular show streaming to qualify for insurance benefits for one year – you do the math.”
Barinholtz plays Judge Alan Rosen on Jury Duty, which depicts a fictional court trial — fictional that is for all but one actual non-actor who believes he is on a real jury hearing a real case.
The series’ Emmy noms also include one for Marsden’s supporting turn, as well as writing and casting.
SAG-AFTRA and WGA members took to the streets at four New York locations today, including at Netflix and Warner Bros Discovery headquarters at Hudson Yards, where the Communications Workers of America joined the picket lines in solidarity with actors and writers currently on strike against the studios over new contracts.
A group estimated at more than 120 were at Hudson Yards waling the lines including Lee Tergesen, the veteran actor who recalled the labor climate on HBO’s Oz, the premium network’s first series on which he played Tobias Beecher, at a time when broadcast television was the dominant platform. “The residuals for HBO – I don’t know what they’re like now — were just terrible,” he said while speaking about the reasons actors are striking now – residuals, and AI, among the key issues.
SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland spent his second day in New York hitting all four strike locations, spurring on protesters at Hudson Yards.
“Our members’ power and unity is so obvious and so amazing,” he said. “I just wanna let you know that we are going to continue this fight until we have a fair, just and equitable contract … that’s what we’re here for and that’s what we’re going to get.”
He also mentioned organizing outside of L.A. and New York, with big turnouts today in rallies in Chicago and Philadelphia.
Crabtree-Ireland was joined on the picket lines today by the likes of CAA’s Bryan Lourd and actor John Carroll Lynch.
New York has seen strong turnout at its picket sites in front of Netflix, WBD, NBC and CBS headquarters.
At Warner Bros in Burbank, a welcome breeze made walking the picket line a little more bearable in the hot sun, though a bullhorn-carrying, yarmulke-wearing rascal on skates who traversed the sidewalk from Gate 3 to Gate 4 made protesting a little more challenging.
Among the actors waving SAG-AFTRA placards in front of one of Hollywood’s oldest studios was Veronica Cartwright, whose last work for WBTV was on the now-canceled Gotham Knights on CW.
“I really loved my character, Eunice Harmon,” she told Deadline. “She was really, really old and I was in three hours of makeup. It was so much fun, a great group of kids.”
This is Cartwright’s second actors strike, having participated in the last one in 1980. And this time, like last, she expected to be out here. “We have to fight for everything,” said Cartwright, who’s most famous for her appearances in Alien and The Witches of Eastwick. “And now there are rumors that the studios will wait 100 days so people who had contract have to renegotiate everything. Things have really shifted.”
Cartwright was joined on the picket line by actor Jeff Rosenthal (Adoptable, Curb Your Enthusiasm), whose TV-writing wife Theresa Mulligan (Atypical, How I Met Your Mother) is also on strike.
“I remember years ago, we got a very nice residual check that represented about four years of her writing on [HIMYM]. We haven’t seen anything like it since,” Rosenthal recalls. “My wife has written on many many shows. Once streaming happened, the amount of money you used to make is over and it’s unclear how this becomes sustainable. When you go from 24 episodes a season to eight. People think you can look at a paycheck from one show and imagine that all year long as a lot of money. The truth is, after that show’s over, you don’t know when you’re working.”
For his work, Rosenthal remembers receiving a residual check with only asterisks in the amount box. “I want to write and say, ‘Save the 42 cents to mail it.’ That was for acting. Granted, that was probably for something I had done a long time before that. But whatever those residuals were long gone and hard to find now.”
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