Local stars join Hollywood strike against studios

It has officially been one month since Hollywood actors joined writers on the picket lines to strike for the first time in 60 years.
Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 4:48 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - It’s like an episode that has no end in sight. It has officially been one month since Hollywood actors joined writers on the picket lines to strike for the first time in 60 years.

“It feels bad to not have your work recognized,” Taylor Kay Phillips, writer for Last Week Tonight with John Oliver said.

Actors and writers are calling for increased pay, viewership-based streaming residuals, and better protection against artificial intelligence.

“The bigger thing that we’re fighting for is the use of AI,” Shelley Waggener, President of Missouri Valley’s SAG-AFTRA said. “We do feel like there’s a place for AI, it would enhance storytelling but not at the expense of human creators.”

As Hollywood shuts down due to the ongoing strike, thousands in front and behind the camera are struggling to make ends meet. Including one of the longest working actresses in Los Angeles and a familiar face in Kansas City—Dee Wallace. She’s known for her iconic roles in E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial, Cujo and Critters.

Wallace says she’s fighting for the same negotiated salary that she did in the 1960′s.

“I marched on the last strike with Tom Hanks,” Wallace said.

This time around, the fear is that the strike will go on for so long that people will start to lose their homes, cars, and even health insurance.

“What we do now from the fall impacts whether we get our insurance and health coverage for the beginning of January and all through next year,” Wallace said.

She continues to hit the picket lines with workers who are just trying to make a living.

“I’m talking about the people who work every day in this union, working under these contracts, making stale pay—those are the people we need to fight for,” Waggener said. “We will stand by them for a long as we possibly can.”

Phillips says her husband is also a television writer in New York. They are both on strike and currently living in a zero-income household.

But still— Phillips says she will stay on the picket line for as long as possible.

“It’s not optional. You know? There’s no alternative to what we’re doing,” Phillips said. “I think we are a group of people that are really unified in our pursuit of this.”

The Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers reached out to the Writer’s Guild of America with a counterproposal. The WGA has not yet released a response.

SAG-AFTRA is still waiting to be invited back to the table for negotiations.