Turns out there can be a newsy week during the summer.
This Friday edition of Popculturology is coming your way on the heels of the announcement that SAG-AFTRA will join the WGA on strike, creating one of the largest labor stoppages in Hollywood history.
We’ll also take a look at Emmy nominations, check out the latest trailer for Ahsoka and wonder why Bob Iger is now taking notes from David Zaslav’s school of public relations.
Oh, you’ll definitely want to check out the latest batch of Bluey episodes that hit Disney+ on Wednesday. Some all-time classics in there, like “Granny Mobile,” “Puppets” and “Onesies.”
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- Feature Presentation: Double strike
- Bonus Features: Ahsoka!
- The News: Emmy nomination, Superman: Legacy casting Bob Iger steps in it
- Trailer Watch: Wonka, Painkiller
- What to Watch: Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One
- Odds and Ends: A hint of Reznor and Ross’ Mutant Mayhem score
SAG-AFTRA is on strike. The actors union began joining the writers on the picket lines this morning, unleashing the first dual actors/writers strike on Hollywood since 1960.
SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher and National Executive Director & Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland made the announcement on Thursday afternoon.
“It came with great sadness that we came to this crossroads. We had no choice,” Drescher said during the announcement. “We are the victims here. We are being victimized by a very greedy entity. I am shocked by the way the people we have been in business with are treating us. I cannot believe it, quite frankly, how far apart we are on so many things. How they plead poverty that losing money left and right while giving millions to CEOs. It’s disgusting, shame on them.”
Crabtree-Ireland highlighted one of the bizarre demands from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers during the announcement, revealing that the AMPTP “proposed that our background actors should be able to be scanned, get paid for one day's pay, and their company should own that scan, their image, their likeness and to be able to use it for the rest of eternity in any project they want with no consent and no compensation.”
While the Directors Guild of America came to a deal with AMPTP, both SAG-AFTRA and the WGA had severe concerns over the studios’ potential use of AI to put both actors and writers out of work or to dramatically diminish their craft.
Here’s SAG-AFTRA’s full statement from Wednesday night as they prepared to strike:
After more than four weeks of negotiations, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) — the entity that represents major studios and streamers, including Amazon, Apple, Disney, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount, Sony, and Warner Bros Discovery — remains unwilling to offer a fair deal on the key issues that you told us are important to you. Because of this, we've called for a meeting with our National Board this morning to vote on a strike order.
From the time negotiations began on June 7, the members of our Negotiating Committee and our staff team have spent many long days, weekends and holidays working to achieve a deal that protects you, the working actors and performers on whom this industry relies. As you know, over the past decade, your compensation has been severely eroded by the rise of the streaming ecosystem. Furthermore, artificial intelligence poses an existential threat to creative professions, and all actors and performers deserve contract language that protects them from having their identity and talent exploited without consent and pay. Despite our team’s dedication to advocating on your behalf, the AMPTP has refused to acknowledge that enormous shifts in the industry and economy have had a detrimental impact on those who perform labor for the studios.
Though we’ve engaged in negotiations in good faith and remained eager to reach a deal that sufficiently addressed performer concerns, the AMPTP’s responses to our proposals have not been adequate.
We will update you immediately after the National Board’s vote and information will be provided on how the strike impacts your ability to work. Details on picket times and locations will be provided as well. Please check your inbox.
Our ninety-year history is a testament to what can be achieved through our conviction and unity. For the future of our profession, we stand together.
Joe Pompeo and Natalie Jarvey over at Vanity Fair have a great breakdown over what the SAG-AFTRA strike means when it comes to not just the production of films but also their promotion.
As part of SAG-AFTRA’s showdown with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, actors are barred from promoting their projects in the press starting at midnight Friday. Q&As? Dunzo. Breezy gab sessions on the Today show or Good Morning America? Nope! Cover stories? Forget it. “This is basically like, the celebrity factory has shut down,” says Janice Min, CEO of The Ankler and former editorial director and copresident of The Hollywood Reporter. “If this goes on for a long time, you will feel it across the whole internet.”
There are still loopholes around the strike. House of the Dragon will continue filming in the United Kingdom due to local union rules, Variety reported on Thursday. The serious previously plowed ahead with filming despite the WGA strike. (Not like a series of that scale ever needs a rewrite on set, right?)
Of course, these strikes have not sat well with the studios’ leaders. While Disney CEO Bob Iger has already called them “disturbing”, “not realistic” and “disruptive” (more on that below), other studio execs have been even harsher behind the safety of a blind quote.
“The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses,” one executive told Deadline for a recent article. Another insider called the studios’ plan “a cruel but necessary evil.”
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Lucasfilm released a new trailer for Ahsoka this week, and it’s hard to not be hyped about this one. Not only do we get to see the fan-favorite character take centerstage in her own live-action series, but we get to see several characters from Star Wars Rebels make the jump into live action too.
It’s impressive how quickly Lucasfilm improved Rosario Dawson’s Ahsoka look from Season 2 of The Mandalorian to how she looks in this series. All it took was the tiniest lengthening of her lekku to make the character feel right.
The studio also released a new poster for Ahsoka, giving us Dawson in a classic Ahsoka pose.
Ahsoka kicks off with a two-episode premiere on Aug. 23.
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Emmy nominations announced
The Emmys might be pushed back from September to November or even January depending on how long the studios want to let the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes go on, but that didn’t stop the Television Academy from announcing the nominees for the 2023 ceremony on Wednesday.
Succession, The Last of Us, The White Lotus and Ted Lasso dominated the nominations, with 27, 24, 23 and 21 nods a piece. There are way too many categories to fully break down in an edition of Popculturology, so I’ll send you over to the Emmys’ site to check out how your favorite (or least favorite) shows did.
You know what’s become super confusing? The line between what’s a drama and what’s a comedy. Quick — Succession and The Bear. Comedies? Dramas?
Turns out Succession is a drama and The Bear is a comedy, a difference you’d be hard pressed to find watching the two shows. The only difference is their runtime, with Succession sticking closer to the traditional 60-minute length for a drama and The Bear sticking closer to a comedy’s 30-minute length. (Don’t tell the Television Academy about Outstanding Comedy nominee Ted Lasso’s movie-length Season 3 episodes.)
Superman: Legacy builds out cast
With the SAG-AFTRA strike looming, a flurry of casting moves were announced this week, with several additions to Superman: Legacy being the biggest.
Vanity Fair revealed on Tuesday that Isabela Merced, Edi Gathegi and Nathan Fillion had joined the film, with Merced playing Hawkgirl, Gathegi playing Mister Terrific and Fillion playing Guy Gardner, one of many characters who has held a Green Lantern title in the comics. (Ryan Reynolds played Hal Jordan in Green Lantern.)
These actors join David Cornswet and Rachel Brosnahan, who are already on board as Clark Kent and Lois Lane.
With James Gunn’s Superman movie still two years away (or longer, depending on how long the studios want to drag out the strikes), we obviously don’t know yet if these are minor roles in Superman: Legacy or if they’re meant to seed characters and plotlines for future DC Studios projects.
When it comes to Fillion, he’s already played T.D.K. in Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, which by nature of Peacemaker getting a second season, I’d assume is still canon within the rebooted DC Studios?
Bob Iger gets contract extended, immediately steps in it
When Bob Iger returned to Disney as CEO late last year, the expectation was that he’d stick around for a brief period, get the company back on track after Bob Chapek’s run and then help find his successor (again) before stepping away. Don’t be surprised now if Iger is CEO for life.
Disney announced on Wednesday that it had extended Iger’s contract through 2026.
“Time and again, Bob has shown an unparalleled ability to successfully transform Disney to drive future growth and financial returns, earning him a reputation as one of the world’s best CEOs,” Disney chairman Mark G. Parker said in a statement (via Variety). “Bob has once again set Disney on the right strategic path for ongoing value creation, and to ensure the successful completion of this transformation while also allowing ample time to position a new CEO for long-term success, the Board determined it is in the best interest of shareholders to extend his tenure, and he has agreed to our request to remain Chief Executive Officer through the end of 2026.”
It might be in the best interest of the shareholders for Iger to stick around, but he made it clear on Thursday that the writers and actors on strike shouldn’t see him as an ally.
“It’s very disturbing to me. We’ve talked about disruptive forces on this business and all the challenges we’re facing, the recovery from COVID which is ongoing, it’s not completely back. This is the worst time in the world to add to that disruption,” Iger told CNBC’s David Faber (via Variety). “There’s a level of expectation that they have, that is just not realistic. And they are adding to the set of the challenges that this business is already facing that is, quite frankly, very disruptive.”
A reminder that Iger’s contract upon returning to Disney had him in line to make $27 million a year and, from THR, “his new contract — while similar to the previous one — raises Iger’s annual target bonus from $1 million to $5 million, making his target annual compensation $31 million, dependent on performance and share price.”
Seems like there’s some money to go around over there.
The Disney CEO also addressed the disappointing performance across some of the companies core brands, saying that the influx of Marvel Studios projects “diluted” the brand.
“They had not been in the TV business at any significant level,” Iger told CNBC (via Variety). “Not only did they increase their movie output, but they ended up making a number of television series, and frankly, it diluted focus and attention.”
Iger also critiqued the company’s release strategy for Pixar, saying he thought releasing titles like Luca and Seeing Red on Disney+ instead of in theaters “may have created an expectation in the audience that they’re going to eventually be on streaming and probably quickly.”
- Is Nolan mad that Oppenheimer and Barbie are opening the same weekend? A new report from Insider claims that Christopher Nolan “was upset that Warner Bros. scheduled Barbie for release on the same weekend as Oppenheimer, especially since mid-July has been known in the movie business as ‘Nolan’s weekend’ for years.”
- Tron adds two. Disney continues to add to the cast of the upcoming Tron: Ares, with THR breaking the news that Yellowstone’s Sarah Desjardins had joined the movie and Deadline reporting that Star Wars Jedi: Survivor star Cameron Monaghan had too.
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Huh. They Greatest Showman’d Willy Wonka.
Paul King directs this one, and as the director of the first two Paddington movies, I trust him … I guess …
Wonka opens on Dec. 15.
The story of how the Sackler family created the opioid epidemic is ripe for movies and TV shows. Hulu took a swing at this story last year with Dopesick, and now Netflix gets its turn with Painkiller. It looks like no one has adapted Patrick Radden Keefe’s Empire of Pain yet, so there’s still room for future adaptions of OxyContin’s rise.
Painkiller premieres on Netflix on Aug. 10.
💬 💬 💬 Comments, questions or recommendations? Let me know!
- Movie Dinosaurs Never Escaped Jurassic Park (Asher Elbein, Vulture)
- Tim Robinson’s Brand Of Angry Alienation On I Think You Should Leave Is Really An Overeager Grasp for Friendship In The Midst of Extreme Loneliness (Charles Bramesco, Decider)
- An Interlude With the Junior Gemstones (Hershal Pandya, Vulture)
- ‘Silence Builds Tension’: An Oral History Of Mission: Impossible’s Iconic CIA Heist Scene (Ben Pearson, Slashfilm)
- 10 years ago, Orange Is the New Black changed Netflix. Now what? (Kelly Lawler, USA Today)
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Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One
The reviews for Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One have been fantastic, and I’m going to see the movie tonight. I know the buzz is all about next week with Barbie and Oppenheimer, but Tom Cruise told me this is one we need to see on the biggest screen possible.
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Is that Reznor and Ross’ music in the new Mutant Mayhem clip?
First off, love this clip from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. It looks and sounds like a ton of fun. Second, is this our first snippet of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ score for the film?
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