As the SAG-AFTRA strike officially begins, shutting down Hollywood productions, president of the union Fran Drescher responded to Disney CEO Bob Iger’s comments about the strikes.
Bob Iger’s Comments
During an appearance on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on July 13 — just hours before SAG-AFTRA officially announced their strike — The Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger called the ongoing writers strike and upcoming actors strike “disturbing,” adding that their expectations were “not realistic.”
“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,” Iger continued. “This is the worst time in the world to add to that disruption.”
Fran Drescher’s Response
In an interview with Variety on the picket line outside Paramount Pictures, Drescher said she found Iger’s comments “terribly repugnant and out of touch.”
“Positively tone deaf,” Drescher added. “I don’t think it served him well. If I were that company, I would lock him behind doors and never let him talk to anybody about this, because it’s so obvious that he has no clue as to what is really happening on the ground with hard-working people that don’t make anywhere near the salary he is making. High seven figures, eight figures, this is crazy money that they make, and they don’t care if they’re land barons of a medieval time.”
Bob Iger made approximately $45.9 million in 2021. When he returned to the position of CEO in November 2022, his two-year contract allowed him to earn up to $27 million each year. His contract was recently extended to 2026.
Drescher said in her speech announcing the SAG-AFTRA strike, “We are being victimized by a very greedy enterprise. At some point you have to say ‘no, we’re not going to take this anymore. You people are crazy. What are you doing? Why are you doing this?’”
SAG-AFTRA & WGA Strikes
The SAG-AFTRA strike officially began at midnight this morning, and will specifically impact those under the 2020 TV & Theatrical contract, meaning a few members will be exempt in areas such as interactive entertainment, audio books, and commercials, among others. SAG-AFTRA has not gone on strike against television and film companies for over four decades.
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has been on strike for over two months after negotiations with various studios and streaming platforms regarding royalties and residual payments failed. Both writers and actors have not been striking together at the same time since 1960.
SAG-AFTRA is making demands similar to the WGA regarding streaming and restrictions on AI technology being used to replicate a performer’s likeness. The WGA previously said the current state of the industry was turning it into a “gig economy” that was detrimental to writers.
The “Haunted Mansion” premiere planned for Disneyland Resort this weekend will still go forward but without the film’s actors, who will not be allowed to promote the film amidst the strike. The premiere may just be a fan event, or crew members such as director Justin Simien may appear. The event will take place on Saturday, July 15, at Hyperion Theater in Disney California Adventure. About 2,000 guests, including fans, are expected to attend. A pre-reception is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. and the movie screening will begin at 7:00 p.m. PT.
Several Marvel Cinematic Universe films had their release dates shifted amidst the WGA strike. The SAG-AFTRA strike could lead to more delays and potentially a temporary suspension of the entire film industry.