SAG-AFTRA’s Duncan Crabtree-Ireland Says Studio Talks Are “Productive” But Cautions, “We’re Not There Yet” As AI Emerges As Latest Focus

There’s real optimism in Hollywood that the actors and the studios are inching closer to a deal that would end the strike.

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA’s chief negotiator, told Deadline that talks over the weekend have been “productive” and he remains “cautiously optimistic about making progress” but warned that the guild and the AMPTP are not just “dotting I’s and crossing T’s” just yet.

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He added that AI is the current focus of talks.

“We worked all weekend, working with the company reps to try and move the ball forward. I remain cautiously optimistic about making progress. We are not there yet. So, any rumors that have been floating around that deal was imminent… we have real substantive issues still between us, but we are working to make progress. We’re going to be continuing this week as it takes until it’s done. But those issues are important and so there is no agreement until we reach that point,” he told Deadline outside Netflix, where around 150 strikers were dressed in professional attire to show that they mean business.

He admitted that the mood of discussions are “intense” but in a “productive direction”.

“People seem to think we’re at a point where we’re just dotting I’s and crossing T’s. That’s not the situation, there are substantive issues, we’re still working hard to bridge real gaps. But the dialogue has been productive and constructive. We’re just gonna keep at it,” he added.

When asked how things stood with the revenue sharing proposal, Crabtree-Ireland pivoted to a different topic that appears to be the current focus of conversation.

“I will say that AI is really important in this negotiation, it has been since day one. That is an area that we are particularly focused on right now. Because without bridging some key gaps in AI, we won’t be able to reach a deal. That is an important area we’re focused on,” he added.

Crabtree-Ireland wouldn’t rule out a deal happening today but admitted that “anything is possible”.

“It’s hard to say; it really depends on how the companies respond to what we put across the table to them. It could be something that moves quickly, it could be something where there’s really a disconnect. So, it’s very hard for me to predict any kind of timeframe on it. Instead, really, what I would just say is, we are 100% laser focused on moving this negotiation forward. That’s why we were at it all weekend, and we’ll stay at it until a deal is reached,” he said.

Given it is Halloween tomorrow, should people across LA go to a party or wait by their desks for a deal. “I think everybody should go to a Halloween party tomorrow night. I think it’s good for people to get a chance to take a breath,” he said.

There are no negotiations today with SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP working independently and are expected to work on scheduling at the end of the day.

The Fran Drescher-run org called for actors to “flood the picket lines” today. “Make your voices heard,” it wrote in a statement to members.

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