How important is the AI issue to members of SAG-AFTRA? Important enough that Tom Cruise Zoomed into a June negotiating session to urge the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to hear out the guild’s concerns on the issue, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
That wasn’t the Mission: Impossible star’s sole concern. He also wanted to urge the AMPTP to support the guild’s position on stunt performers.
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Cruise also had some words for SAG-AFTRA reps regarding the delicate post-pandemic state of movie theaters.
SAG-AFTRA sometimes calls in performers during negotiating sessions to discuss issues in which they have expertise. Any member can request to address a negotiation session and the guild can evaluate the value of having them participate. Apparently the guild concluded that Cruise’s point of view was worthy. It’s understood that no other star of his caliber participated in the negotiations in this capacity.
SAG-AFTRA had a handful of proposals on the table concerning stunt professionals, including stunt coordinators and stunt performers, which the 160,000-strong union represents. The union also sought to institute more guardrails on the use of generative A.I. in entertainment in its 2023 talks with studios and streamers, focusing on ensuring that performers give consent and are appropriately compensated when their performances are ingested in the technology.
Of course, despite Cruise’s participation in the talks, after around five weeks the performers’ union and the AMPTP failed to come to a deal by the Wednesday night expiration of the union’s film and television contracts package. Starting July 14, performers began picketing at studio lots and corporate headquarters in New York and Los Angeles and withholding their work, which subsequently has shut down and delayed productions including Mission Impossible 8.
In addition to lobbying studios and streamers on behalf of SAG-AFTRA, Cruise is said to have asked the union to consider allowing actors to promote films during a strike given the fragile state of movie theaters and reminding his union that promotion matters to actors, too. It felt “uncomfortable,” says a source who was present.
SAG-AFTRA’s current strike rules maintain that publicity, including “conventions, interviews, tours or promotion via social media of any struck work or struck companies” is expressly forbidden during the work stoppage.
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