After “Heartless” Comments, Bob Iger No Longer at Top of SAG’s Burn List

Gunnar Wiedenfels Strike Comments

For nearly three weeks, almost all of Hollywood’s actors and actresses have been on strike. The Screen Actors Guild authorized the strike after failing to finalize a contract with film studios. On July 14, the actors joined WGA writers on the picket lines, where they had been since early May. It is the first time in sixty years that Hollywood’s two biggest unions have been on strike at the same time. There are a number of issues at the heart of each strike, with the biggest concerns being money and residuals made from streaming and the use of artificial intelligence.

SAG-AFTRA strike

Credit: ABC

For the most part, Hollywood production companies have been silent on the strike, trying to work with the unions behind the scenes. However, Disney CEO Bob Iger decided to address the strike, and things did not go well. When asked about SAG’s demands, Iger said that the union was not being “realistic”. Iger made that comment just one day before the actors went on strike, and the comments have been used against him ever since. Haunted Mansion director Justin SimienBreaking Bad star Bryan Cranston, and beloved Rent star Anthony Rapp have all called Iger out.

Justin Simien

Credit: Disney

Iger has also been chastised repeatedly by SAG President Fran Drescher, most known for her starring role in The Nanny. Drescher has called Iger a hypocrite and an “ignoramus” for saying that actors weren’t realistic when he makes approximately $78,000 per day. He also has a private yacht that he has used to sail around the world. A yacht that he was on when he decided to return to Disney as CEO. Drescher even commented that Iger had been receiving such backlash that other companies were staying silent.

Disney CEO Bob Iger

Credit: Thomas Hawk, Flickr

Well, they were staying quiet, but the CFO of Warner Bros/Discovery decided he would speak out. And his comments are going over as well as Iger’s.

Warner Bros. CEO David Zaslav said that the studios were hoping to come to an agreement with both SAG and the WGA in the coming months, so productions could resume in September/October. Then, CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels decided to chime in and let investors know that, if the strike lasted until the end of the year, the company would save around $100 million.

“While we are hoping for a fast resolution, our modeling assumes a return to work date in early September, should the strikes run through the end of the year, I would expect several $100 million upside to our free cash flow guidance and some incremental downside for adjusted EBITDA [Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization].

Gunnar Wiedenfels Warner Bros

Credit: Discovery

News of Wiedenfels comments quickly made the rounds, and some striking actors were none too pleasedAct Your Age star Bella Cruz called Wiedenfels’ comments “heartless” and “out of touch.”

“I think it really goes to show you how out of touch and heartless these people are and how they have zero respect for art. 

When people say things like that, it’s mind-blowing. It’s hurtful, it’s unfortunate and greedy, honestly. And I don’t know how as a human being he could feel comfortable saying something like that. What we’re asking for is so little based on the amount of money that they make… so that people can eat and pay their rent and do what they love.”

Bella Cruz SAG Strike

Credit: Bella Cruz Instagram

Others pointed out that, while studios might see savings in the short term, they will lose out in the long run. Most film and television productions are on pause, with a number of films needing to have their release dates pushed back. These delays will cost the studios some serious money.

The studios may be hoping to come to an agreement with SAG and the WGA in the next few months, but Drescher has said that SAG is financially prepared to strike for six months. It has been said repeatedly that the studios need the actors more than the actors need the studios. The Writers Guild has not said how long they can afford to stay on strike.

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!

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