Burning Questions on Hollywood’s Summer From Hell

SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher with chief negotiator, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland.
SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher with chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. Photo: Valerie Macon/AFP

We’re answering some of the most urgent questions from readers about the various strikes locking down Hollywood into a previously unfathomable situation, one unseen in modern times. We’ll probably revisit this format as the strike drags on (no, we don’t know when it will end), so feel free to hit us up with questions you can’t get answered elsewhere. Herewith…  

Good for Fran Drescher, I loved her on The Nanny and she’s earned her reputation as a fighter. But has anyone actually analyzed the substance of her speech? She goes on and on about how the C.E.O.s get “hundreds of millions of dollars” without mentioning that big-name actors and other creators have been the primary beneficiaries of the content bubble of the past decade?   

We heard this sentiment a lot this week, even from agents and lawyers that represent the striking talent. The reps know it’s true that a lot of upper-tier, and even mid-tier, talent got very rich off the Netflix revolution that Drescher was complaining about. And for many, they got way richer than they would have under the pre-streaming model, because Netflix and the others paid upfront premiums to talent regardless of success. No backends, and thus no “home runs”—like, say, The Nanny—but also no nail-biting about whether a show or film would perform, and no need to audit or even sue to get the money owed by a studio. Now that the bubble has burst and talent has realized their backends are often nonexistent, nobody’s volunteering to give those upfront premiums back.