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What the tentative SAG-AFTRA deal means for the entertainment industry


As word spread yesterday that the strike by Hollywood actors would end after 118 days, performers expressed relief and celebration across social media and in public. Here's actor Jeremy Allen White finding out that the strike ended while doing a red carpet interview with Access Hollywood for his new film, "The Iron Claw."


JEREMY ALLEN WHITE: Very, very happy the strike is over just now. It's crazy. Here we are. I'm ready.

SUMMERS: The new deal, negotiated by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and SAG-AFTRA, the union representing Hollywood actors, stunt performers, voiceover actors and dancers, must still be ratified by members of the union. And we should note that NPR News staffers are also members of SAG-AFTRA, but we broadcast journalists are under a different contract, and we were not part of this strike. Here to answer questions around what is hopefully a new deal is Eric Deggans, NPR's TV critic and media analyst. Hey there.


SUMMERS: So, Eric, what can you tell us about this new agreement? Does Hollywood think it was worth this long work stoppage?

DEGGANS: Well, the leadership of the actors union and members of the negotiating committee seemed really pleased with what they worked out. And there's a general sense that the union succeeded by holding out until it could get a deal addressing many of the concerns of its members. The union has said the new contract is valued at more than a billion dollars. The Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers, which represented Hollywood studios, has said it provided the largest increase in minimum wages for actors in 40 years, along with new payments for streaming and rules about how they use artificial intelligence. I think we're going to learn more about this once the SAG-AFTRA board reviews it, reportedly tomorrow. And then union members still need to ratify it.

SUMMERS: So when will fans start to see this new deal in action?

DEGGANS: Well, the first thing you're going to see is a lot of your favorite celebrities all over media, talk shows especially, promoting projects that are out now or coming out now, which they couldn't do while on strike. Actors can go back to film festivals like Sundance, Oscars and the Emmys, and award shows will firm up their plans. All of that is going to kick in right away.

SUMMERS: One of the big questions I have - I mean, it's about the work itself. How will these film studios, TV, streaming - how are they going to get things going again after all this time?

DEGGANS: Well, it's not totally clear yet, but there's a hope that since the Writers Guild of America strike ended in late September after 148 days, they've had time to plan how they're going to rev up production. There's also hope that the broadcast TV series can have a shortened series of maybe 13 episodes of new content for popular shows this year. Movies and streaming shows will take a little longer to get going, but I wonder if the public's even going to notice because the flood of new shows didn't slow that much during the strikes. Hopefully, we'll see the quality of shows go up a bit as old favorites come back.

SUMMERS: Yeah. I mean, last thing - is there any hidden fallout to these strikes that perhaps we're only going to start to understand as the dust settles and people are getting back to work?

DEGGANS: Well, I worry about the brain drain. I mean, these strikes didn't just stop actors and writers from working. A lot of people had to stop working, and some of them probably couldn't afford to not get paychecks for as long as these strikes lasted. What TV shows got canceled, and how will that affect the entertainment landscape? And it seems like creators and performers from marginalized groups were just starting to get a lot of projects, significant footholds in the industry. Are we going to still see that level of diversity when everything starts up again? Lots to look for.

SUMMERS: NPR's Eric Deggans. Thank you.

DEGGANS: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF ALICIA KEYS SONG, "GIRL ON FIRE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.