Answers to your questions about a possible strike by actors and writers

By Daniel Fierman
Updated September 15, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

So, are we going to see Tom Cruise walking the picket line?
Probably not. He — along with every other SAG/AFTRA actor in Hollywood — just wouldn’t be allowed to do films or television beginning July 1, 2001. And that’s after the writers’ contract expires May 1.

But isn’t May eight long months away?
With the actors’ strike against advertisers dragging on and new SAG leadership — including William Daniels — taking a hard line, the feeling …

Wait, you mean Dr. Craig from St. Elsewhere?
Yeah, him. Anyway, advertisers, studios, actors, writers — they’re all sparring over the same issues. Mainly, how do you split revenues from cable, video, foreign sales, and the Internet? Before they negotiate, both the studios and the talent are awaiting the results of a study conducted by the AMPTP determining how that money is currently being divvied up — but execs claim the unions will wait until the last minute anyway, to get more leverage.

The Internet? So, Pamela Anderson wants cash for all those downloads?
More like, Courteney Cox Arquette is eyeing the day you can download Friends, and she wants some of that action.

Download Friends? When will we be able to do that?
Industry observers think it could happen within five years.

That Keanu Reeves movie The Replacements is about a bunch of football-playing scabs. What happens if any actors cross picket lines?
They’ll face disciplinary action and could be booted from SAG forever.

Why can’t some bigwig step in to broker a deal, like MCA chairman Lew Wasserman did in the ’80s?
Because the business has changed since then. Studios are now small pieces of massive multinational conglomerates. The kind of chummy relationships between moguls that let Wasserman play peacekeeper simply don’t exist anymore.

Any other cheery tidbits?
How’s this: The Directors Guild of America — an even more powerful union, since it’s nearly impossible to make any filmed entertainment without its members — could strike after June 2002, over, yup, the same thorny issues.