Oscars' strike tributes emphasize solidarity and future labor fights.

Los Angeles — Hollywood has managed to exhibit some happiness and normalcy as it recovers from the dueling strikes and one of the most turbulent years in business history.

But Sunday's Academy Awards didn't ignore the labor dispute that kept screenwriters and actors unemployed for much of 2023. This recognition comes despite muted recognition of the strikes at other awards events this season. Behind-the-scenes staff may challenge studios next, and video game performers may be weeks from their own walkout.

Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel promised union members and behind-the-scenes workers that Hollywood stars would support them in return for their support during last year's strike, which shut down much of the entertainment industry.

“We fully support them, obviously, as they did us,” actors guild president Fran Drescher told The Associated Press on the Oscars red carpet. He thanked Hollywood workers, now in a labor dispute, by inviting scores of truck drivers, lighting guys, gaffers, grips, and others onstage. “Thank you for standing with us,” Kimmel remarked. We will also support you in your upcoming discussions.

The Academy Awards were once the final place for a show of camaraderie like Kimmel's. Guilds in the contemporary labor disputes developed in the 1930s out of fears that the newly constituted Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences would become a studio cartel used to lower salaries. Threats to boycott the Oscars helped actors, directors, writers, and others gain power over the film academy.

SAG-AFTRA-represented video game performers may strike over fears of being supplanted by artificial intelligence, like actors and writers. At a SXSW Film & TV Festival discussion the day before the Oscars, SAG-AFTRA executive director and top negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland predicted a strike in four to six weeks.

“It is, at this point, at least 50/50, if not more likely, that we end up going on strike,” Crabtree-Ireland added, “because of the inability to get past these basic AI issues.” Video game actors include voice and stunt performers. Their long-term contract expired over a year ago, and months of talks have yielded little. Game actors overwhelmingly handed their leaders the power to strike their hiring businesses in September. Six months off work in 2016 and 2017 was their last.

Cinematographers, camera operators, set designers, carpenters, hair and makeup artists, and others in the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees plan to resume talks next week with Hollywood studios, represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which actors and writers negotiate with.

Since last week, IATSE has been negotiating salary raises and overwork protections for around 50,000 Los Angeles workers. The talks nearly went to strike three years ago before the present contract was signed. That foreshadowed last year's tremendous disruption.

“I think that this is a very dynamic year because everybody’s impacted by the significant changes that have occurred in our industry, especially AI,” Drescher remarked. “The AMPTP is getting it from all sides, so it's a left jab and right hook. But long overdue.

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