Transcript: Fran Drescher Q&A: How AI Brought Hollywood CEOs to the Brink
SAG-AFTRA's president, and Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, reveal what happened in the room with the 'Gang of Four', and why Apple and Amazon eventually joined: 'We're not peons. We're partners'
Elaine Low (00:33):
We've got a special edition of The Ankler Podcast, now that our summer of strikes has ended and SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have come to an agreement on a new three-year contract. After a press conference on Friday, November 10th at SAG-AFTRA headquarters, but ahead of the contract's actual language being released, I got a chance to sit down with SAG President Fran Drescher and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, to talk about some of the deal's highlights, and their conversations with the heads of the studios. Have a listen.
AI really seemed, by all accounts, like the toughest nut to crack in those last days and a year ago, I don't know how many actors or even writers really had AI on the forefront of their minds when they were thinking about professional concerns. Was it always apparent that this was going to be a major sticking point? And tell me a little bit about some of the challenges in negotiating something that's so future facing and is such a fast-moving technology.
Duncan Crabtree-Ireland (01:29):
Well, to me, it was always apparent it was going to be a sticking point, and we really started working on AI a couple of years ago. And back in January of this year at CES, we hosted a panel track specifically about AI and its impact on the industry. And it became really clear at that point there was going to be a real concern about the adoption of AI, how it was going to work, and how we were going to protect creative talent, including our members from an abusive implementation of AI.
So I think we knew that, and we were out in front of that issue, way out in front of that issue. And then it turned out to be a huge issue, not just for us, but it was also... It turned out to be an issue in the DGA and WGA negotiations, and I expect it will be next year for the Teamsters, IA, AFM. I mean, the Teamsters even had a Bill in the legislature in California here this year to try and stop autonomous 18-wheelers from being tested without a driver in them. So I mean, this is going to be an issue that affects everyone, and I think that in this agreement, we've set a precedent and really established a path forward for others to benefit from as well.
Fran Drescher (02:34):
Yeah, I mean, I feel like every element of this negotiation was touched by the digital age and from very... The simple concept of being able to audition and interview by using home recording technology to the most sophisticated threats of our very essence and likeness being duplicated. So this was part of what made this an extremely seminal negotiation and historic in nature. And we saw it coming and we framed it that way when we began to figure out what our proposal package was going to be.