As both the mayor of entertainment production hub Burbank and a SAG-AFTRA member himself, Konstantine Anthony has a unique perspective on the union’s first strike against film and television companies in over 40 years.
The former Entourage actor (and Universal Studios House of Horrors werewolf) now presides over the home of the Warner Bros. lot and The Walt Disney Company, among other studios. Burbank has been hard-hit by the ongoing writers’ strike, now in its 11th week, the politician told The Hollywood Reporter on Friday. The impact will only grow now that the actors’ union has staged a walkout following the collapse of negotiations with studios and streamers and the expiration of their film and television contracts package on Wednesday at midnight.
“We are seeing a huge hit to our local economy, folks who normally eat at the restaurants and use the drycleaner and buy gas in town, all of that, is greatly diminished for the last 70 days of the writers’ strike,” Anthony told THR while walking the picket lines at Disney. “And we are definitely going to see more of that now that all production is halted because of the SAG-AFTRA strike.”
Anthony is seeing many Burbank residents who work in entertainment showing up to the city’s picketing locations, which include Warner Bros. and Disney, during the WGA and SAG-AFTRA work stoppages. “The vast majority are showing up to our studios because they’re upset,” Anthony continued. “They’re very angry that their wages have not increased, they’re very angry at the treatment of how the studios are effectively erasing them from the writing profession, from the acting profession, A.I. and all of this new technology and the lack of streaming residuals is really hitting them in the pocketbook.”
A member of the Democratic Socialists of America’s Los Angeles chapter, which hosts an active Hollywood Labor subcommittee, Anthony has been openly supportive of the writers’ strike, attending the “Striking 9 to 5” themed picket and helping to organize a Burbank comedy event raising money for struggling scribes.
The mayor offered a civic perspective to SAG-AFTRA and the WGA’s compensation demands, noting that these workers are important to the local economy. “In the mayor’s seat, I know specifically the money we see in the local economy comes from the workers. The CEOs of these giant companies, they don’t live here, they don’t spend money, they buy yachts out of town and out of the country. That’s where their money goes,” he said. “So we need to keep the money here, locally, we need to pay our workers, because they’re the ones who pay for daycare, they’re the ones who pay for purchases and sales tax and property tax here, locally, in the economy.”
SAG-AFTRA members began picketing on Friday after their labor group’s National Board called a strike the previous day. According to the union, in ongoing labor negotiations with studios and streamers, the companies did not adequately engage in issues including A.I. regulations and minimum compensation rates. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, meanwhile, has fired back that the union walked away from “historic” pay and residuals increases and a “groundbreaking” A.I. proposal.
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