Actors' Strike Longest on Record

ByABC News
October 3, 2000, 2:22 PM

October 2 -- Today the commercial actors' strike enters its 155th day, making it the longest work stoppage in Hollywood history.

The strike by the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists may drag on for another month at least, according to Variety, before negotiators return to the bargaining table.

The previous record for a Hollywood industry strike of 154 days was set in 1988 by the Writers Guild of America and delayed the start of the fall TV season. SAG's second-longest strike came in 1980, when it stayed out for 94 days from film and TV work.

The next strike may hit this spring when existing contracts for the film and television industries' writers and actors expire, and the prospect is already causing widespread panic among Hollywood suits.

In an article in today's New York Times, SAG president William Daniels (of St. Elsewhere acting fame) pooh-poohed the assumption that more strikes are inevitable. "I just wish people would stop talking about a strike. We haven't even started negotiations. Let's not panic," Daniels said.

Hopes had been raised last week that SAG and AFTRA could reach a deal and ask their members to return to ad work, but the talks collapsed over major differences in cable rates and Internet jurisdiction.

Since the talks collapsed, union leaders are now focusing efforts on launching a boycott of consumer products giant Procter & Gamble over its shooting of non-union ads. The unions plan to announce details of the boycott at a news conference Wednesday.

"It's been very frustrating that this strike has not been settled because the longer it goes, the more it hurts working actors," Richard Carter, a principal with Los Angeles-based Gartner Films, tells Variety.

He indicated that the longer the strike goes on, the more working directors are turning to non-union help or "scabs," as the union dubs them.

Reuters/Variety contributed to this story.