Hollywood Publicists to Face Crises Amidst SAG-AFTRA Strike

Over 350 publicists representing top Hollywood stars held an urgent virtual meeting with SAG-AFTRA leadership to address the ongoing strike and its financial ramifications.

The meeting covered a range of pressing topics, including the upcoming fall film festivals and the challenges faced by small talent PR firms, as actors are currently prohibited from doing press due to the strike.

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, chief negotiator for SAG-AFTRA, fielded questions from the concerned Hollywood publicists, primarily explaining the interim agreements, which are mistakenly referred to as waivers, granted to select independent films and TV series.

These agreements allow productions to continue and stars to promote their projects during the strike. However, no such agreements have been issued for talent attending prestigious events like the Venice, Toronto, or Telluride film festivals. Crabtree-Ireland mentioned ongoing conversations with TIFF but was unaware of any current talks with Venice.

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland

The financial impact on the personal publicity sector was raised during the meeting, with publicists expressing concern for indie PR companies that heavily rely on retainer fees from actors as their main source of revenue. Crabtree-Ireland acknowledged the unfortunate collateral damage caused by the strike but firmly stated that the union is on strike to protect its members’ professional interests.

He encouraged the publicists to address their financial concerns with the producers that SAG-AFTRA is negotiating with for a better contract, stating that the responsibility lies with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

While larger firms like R&CPMK and Sunshine Sachs Morgan & Lylis have diversified their businesses to include sports, music, and brand representation, smaller boutique PR players have been hit hard by the strike. The Lede Company, an exception, recently expanded by acquiring a Paris-based fashion agency, while other firms focus on corporate communications, serving various creative enterprises.

Saad Hussain

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