Actors’ deal includes pay rises and intimacy co-ordinators, union says

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Sag-Aftra’s negotiating team shared details of the agreement in Los Angeles on Friday
By Sam Cabral
BBC News, Washington

A tentative deal between actors and Hollywood studios includes AI safeguards and requirements for intimacy co-ordinators on set.

Actors’ union Sag-Aftra announced some details of its agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers (AMPTP) on Friday.

It said its national board had voted to back the agreement with 86% approval.

It will be sent to the union’s 160,000 members for final ratification next week.

But actors are able to return to work immediately.

The agreement was announced by the union on Wednesday, bringing a likely end to a four-month strike that, combined with a separate writers’ strike, severely disrupted film and TV production.

On Friday, it gave more detail on its contents and said it included, among other things:

Higher compensation for background actors;
A bonus for actors who work on series or films released via streaming services that become successful
AI protections that require “informed consent and fair compensation” for any living or dead performer
New makeup and hairstyling requirements, including experts for performers with diverse hair textures and skin types
A first-ever requirement to hire intimacy co-ordinators on set for scenes involving sex and nudity

“We collectively feel this deal was made at the point it should’ve been made,” chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said in Los Angeles. “It achieves the absolute best.”

He said the AI protections “make sure that performers are protected. Their rights to consent are protected. Their rights to fair compensation and their rights to employment are protected”.

Studios have been experimenting with AI in recent years, and safeguards for actors formed a key part of the negotiations.

There were some fears that background actors could be the first to lose their jobs as a result of AI. “No use of a digital replica can be used to evade engagement and payment of a background actor under this contract,” Mr Crabtree-Ireland said.

The union earlier said it valued the three-year deal, which was welcomed by high-profile stars including Jamie Lee Curtis and Zac Efron, at more than $1bn (£814m).

A full summary of the contract is due to be released on Monday.

Watch: Sag-Aftra actors get a new contract. What’s in it?

Although Hollywood’s star actors earn millions of dollars, many lesser-known performers often struggle to get by, particularly amid rising inflation and industry changes.

The 118-day shutdown was the longest in the union’s 90-year history.

The combination of the actors’ and writers’ strikes is estimated to have cost the California economy more than $6.5bn, according to Deadline.

As well as production delays, actors did not attend events such as premieres while the strike was taking place, as union rules prohibit them from taking any work, including promotion or publicity for projects.

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