In the last 48 hours, nearly five thousand actors have signed a letter directed at the SAG-Aftra union stating that they would “rather go on strike than take a bad deal.”
The letter, which was published late Thursday night and written by some of the union’s strike captains, has been obtained by NBC News.
In reads in part, “Back in June, before we went on strike, a large group of members signed an open letter telling our leaders that we would rather go on strike than take a bad deal.”
It goes on to say, “We have not come all this way to cave now. We have not gone without work, without pay, and walked picket lines for months just to give up on everything we’ve been fighting for. We cannot and will not accept a contract that fails to address the vital and existential problems that we all need fixed.”
Among the high profile actors who have signed the letter are: Demi Moore, Helen Hunt, Mark Ruffalo, Bryan Cranston, and Freddie Highmore.
“We know that our union leaders are doing everything in their power to achieve that goal as they negotiate in good faith with the companies to arrive at a new contract that will protect us and our fellow performers, now and for generations to come,” the letter continues.
This public display of support comes amid the months-long actor’s strike which has left thousands out of work and has cost the California economy over $5 billion.
SAG-Aftra and the AMPTP met virtually on Friday for the third day of talks this week, which did not result in a deal. The AMPTP represents Hollywood’s studios and streamers (including NBC’s parent company Comcast).
Three sources familiar with the negotiations told NBC News that progress was made on numerous issues during Thursday’s negotiations, with one source saying “it feels like the end is in sight.”
But two of those three sources said that Friday’s meeting had been “challenging,” with one saying, “It’s a volatile situation, both sides are far apart on some key issues.”
NBC News has reached out to both SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP for comment.
In a statement to members on Friday evening, the union’s TV/theatrical negotiating committee said, “We completed a full and productive day working internally and will continue into the weekend.”
The committee added, “We thank you for the incredible solidarity and support you have shown on the pickets and across the country all week long.”
Among the main sticking points are residuals in the streaming era, protections around artificial intelligence and a levy on subscribers.
All sources confirmed a report by Variety that the AMPTP offered a 7% increase in minimum rates. When it comes to AI, the union wants oversight and veto power in how AI is used with their performers, something that AMPTP is not prepared to agree to, the sources said.
Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos spoke out about the ongoing negotiations earlier this month and said that the main issue keeping both sides from making a deal was a levy on subscribers.
SAG-AFTRA’s President Fran Drescher told NBC News at the time that the union had proposed that the streamers pay 57 cents per subscriber for the three-year deal. Sarandos publicly slammed the suggestion, saying it would cost the AMPTP over $800 million annually, a figure that Drescher said was exaggerated. All sources said that Friday’s talks were primarily centered around this issue.