Fran Drescher believes that the strikes that have paralyzed Hollywood have to do with something much bigger than the actors’ union she runs, the screenwriters who are also out of work, or even the entertainment industry.
Drescher told The Associated Press that what’s at stake right now is the entire job market and a broader attitude towards corporate leaders who put shareholders ahead of the people who create their products.
“There comes a point when you don’t have to say anything anymore,” said Drescher, the star of the previous series The Nanny, who is now president of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), in an interview at the union headquarters on Wednesday. “I think it’s gotten bigger; it’s more than the sum of its parts. I think it’s now a conversation about the culture of big business and how they treat everyone, top and bottom, in the name of profit.
Drescher, 65, has been President of the Screen Actors Guild since September 2021, when she defeated “Stranger Things” actor Matthew Modine in a union election.
But for many members and observers, the day she became President was July 13, when she delivered a moving, impassioned, and, for some, inspiring speech at a press conference, announcing that negotiations had broken off and a strike was imminent.
He attacked studio and streaming service executives, saying, “Shame on them. They’re on the wrong side of history.”
Drescher told the AP that he had no intention of expressing his feelings so openly that day. You should read a written statement and then answer questions.
“I looked at him quickly and said, ‘You know what? “I can’t say that; I feel like I have to speak from the heart,” she said. “It just came out of my mouth, and I’m glad I was able to express myself as succinctly, honestly, and authentically as I did. And I find it fascinating that when you speak from the heart, people are very receptive. Because I think you see a lot of people who don’t.
Drescher is the first union leader since 1980 to lead a strike by film and television actors. At that time, only one woman had led the union. There are now seven, including three of the last five presidents.
The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) merged with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) in 2012 and has had many famous presidents, from James Cagney to Ronald Reagan to Charlton Heston.
But few have had a name, face, voice, or laugh as recognizable as Drescher in recent decades. The actress made her feature film debut with a small role in John Travolta’s 1977 classic film Saturday Night Fever, and after many similar small but memorable roles, mostly as a daring New Yorker, she starred in the sitcom The Nanny for six seasons, from 1993 to 1999.
In the series she co-created, Drescher played Fran Fine, a woman who inadvertently becomes a babysitter for a wealthy Manhattan family. The similarities between her character and her go beyond her name; she was also born and raised in Queens, New York, and has an outspoken nasal giggle.
Drescher said the industry has changed a lot since then.
“I’m so thankful that I had my big break during this time and not this time,” said Drescher. “When I started ‘The Nanny’ on CBS, it was still a family business. You knew who the owners were and could talk to them. Everything has changed”.
In her current role as caretaker, she has a very different vision.
“Now there’s a business model where the CEOs are more connected to the shareholders and not to the people who make the product they’re selling,” he said. “I think there is an unsustainable collapse. ”
The American Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the employers’ representative, recently resumed negotiations with the American Writers Guild, whose members have been on strike for nearly four months. The negotiations brought little. Drescher says the AMPTP has not yet contacted the SAG-AFTRA leaders to resume dialogue.
“I don’t understand what the silence means,” said Drescher. “It could be a tactical strategy to see if they can wait until we lose our resolve, and then they can come up with a better offer themselves.”
Drescher said that wouldn’t happen.
“This is a turning point,” he said. “I don’t think anyone in charge of the AMPTP understands that. This is not a negotiation like any other before it. We are in a whole new game. And unless things change radically, I think this strike will end up hurting them a lot.”