Netflix's 'The Get Down' Hit With Union Claim for Holding Actors Too Long (Exclusive)

Courtesy of Netflix
'The Get Down'

SAG-AFTRA is demanding arbitration against Sony Pictures Television, producer of the pricey and troubled Baz Luhrmann musical drama.

The disco and hip-hop featured on Baz Luhrmann’s The Get Down? Up-tempo. The production schedule? Perhaps not so much, and that’s a problem, says the top union for actors. 

SAG-AFTRA is demanding arbitration against the troubled Netflix show’s producer, Sony Pictures Television, alleging that actors were held under option contracts for too long, the union tells The Hollywood Reporter.

Actors typically are hired for a fixed time period with "hold" options that allow a producer to extend their services for a specific time if needed. Multiple production delays on The Get Down forced Netflix to unveil only the first half of the show's 12-episode season last August, as THR previously reported, but it is unknown whether those same delays led to the alleged excessive holds. The series is set to return April 7 with the second half of its freshman season. Its future thereafter is unknown, particularly in light of its reportedly sky-high price tag.

“Excessive hold periods violate our contract and are an abuse of the actors whose talents are part of what makes these shows successful,” says SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris. “When producers attempt to evade or game the terms of the contract, we will be there to hold them accountable. Our commitment to protecting performers is a role we take very seriously.”

In general, each season option cannot exceed 12 months, according to a union source.

The union confirms that it filed a claim in December covering all actors on The Get Down for violation of the options and exclusivity provisions of the union’s television agreement. The claim is now with SAG-AFTRA’s legal department, which has or will shortly issue a demand for arbitration. The union adds that any performer concerned about his or her treatment on a show can contact the union for assistance at (855) SAG-AFTRA.

In addition to Sony, Luhrmann’s Bazmark Films also has a production company credit on the series, but the actual union signatory is Mesquite Productions, Inc., an entity controlled by Sony Pictures. 

Netflix and Sony Pictures Television did not provide comment, and it was not possible to reach Bazmark.

Lesley Goldberg contributed reporting to this story.

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