SAG-AFTRA strike ends as AI deal reached, Hollywood still torn

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The Hollywood actors’ union

This also includes consent for digital alterations to the performer’s performance in “previously recorded material unless it remains substantially as scripted, performed and/or recorded” and producers must provide a “reasonably specific description” of the alterations they would like to make. 

For background actors, the agreement said if “lip or facial movements are altered to make it look like a background actor is speaking, and dialogue is added, they will be upgraded to a day performer.”

Mixed reactions from Hollywood

Reactions from industry insiders to the agreement have been mixed, and alternate between praise for the deal and excitement to move forward, and believing more could have been done and fearing for performers. 

Director and producer Justine Bateman expressed her disagreement with the decision on social media. She called the AI permissions “violating” and said she was disappointed in the SAG-AFTRA leadership.

On the other hand, actor Jason Winston George, a negotiating committee member on the deal, took to X (formerly Twitter) to defend the agreement.

“Not only is it unrealistic and impossible to try and hold back the tide when it comes to technology, these new SAG-AFTRA protections actually allow you to surf the wave of AI technology when it comes to the use of your face and likeness.”

He said if a company wants to pay him by a rate he negotiated to use his AI double while he “stays at home—or better yet to work another job,” he’s on board.

However, he also said there may still be “a fight someday against Synthetic Fakes, completely AI-generated characters that don’t look like any individual performer.”

On the side of Bateman, actor Rainn Wilson, famous for his role in the sitcom The Office, mocked the deal, asking what would happen if actors disagree with the deal. Will they be replaced by AI actors?

The end of the SAG-AFTRA strike comes about a month and half after the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) strike ended on Sept. 24. The WGA strike was also negotiating industry practices, among which AI usage in writer’s rooms was a critical negotiation. 

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