The massive turnout on Wednesday was a show of unity at a moment when union members fear studios are trying to divide them. The crowd of thousands filled up blocks outside the Paramount lot and appeared to be the biggest rally the unions have staged thus far.
Speakers tried to cast the strike as a historical movement in a summer characterized by labor actions from a variety of industries. They said the outcome would define the entertainment industry for decades to come.
“History is in the making right now,” said SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher, speaking in front of a Jumbotron screen that broadcast her image to the cheering crowd down Melrose Avenue. “Do not give up, because this is the moment that is going to change the future.”
Of the studios Drescher said: “They have to do a major pivot. This is their opportunity to grow as human beings.”
A spokesman for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers declined to comment, referring a reporter to a statement the group had issued Friday that said the writers had turned down reasonable offers.
Writers are seeking higher wages overall, a greater share of residuals — especially from streaming content — and assurances about the number of writers hired per show. The latter issue has turned into a major sticking point.
The actors are also seeking higher pay, and both groups want strong language in the contracts to ensure they will not be replaced or cannibalized by AI.