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Ted Lasso co-creators and stars Jason Sudeikis and Brendan Hunt took part in the Writers Guild of America picket lines Friday — and told The Hollywood Reporter they’d be ready to strike as actors as well, should the need arise.
“I’ve got two hands for two signs if that’s what we’ve got to do,” said Hunt, who developed the Apple TV+ series with Sudeikis, Bill Lawrence and Joe Kelly and plays Coach Beard onscreen. Added Sudeikis, “That’s what sandwich boards are for.”
Hunt referenced a WGA rally at the Shrine Auditorium on Wednesday night, where writers received words of support from SAG-AFTRA, the Directors Guild of America and other industry unions, to note that the guilds have common ground on things like streaming residuals and the regulation of artificial intelligence. SAG-AFTRA’s and the Director’s Guild’s contracts with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers expire June 30.
“The whole Shrine meeting was because this shit has to stop, you know, at all corners, and the shit that’s coming has to be prevented,” Hunt said. “So hopefully it doesn’t come to a bunch of concurrent strikes, but it is well within the realm of possibility, for sure.”
Hunt and Sudeikis walked the picket line outside the Warner Bros. lot Friday. The studio produces Ted Lasso for Apple TV+, and in addition to winning a passel of Emmys, the comedy is also the streamer’s most watched series, according to Nielsen metrics.
“I feel like it affects us, whether we’re aware of it or not, when you try to divide and conquer, when people have their hands in other people’s pockets,” Sudeikis told THR. “Some of those pockets contain money, but some of those pockets contain ideas, and [they] do not offer anything in exchange for those ideas, and that willingness and work ethic and vulnerability that writers bring to film and television. We want to be protective of that.
“There are real world applications of that, obviously, like money and credits and whatnot. But I think the lack of humanity toward it all and just sort of making us feel like mice that just need to run this wheel and be honored for the endeavor … that doesn’t pay the rent, doesn’t put food on the table and doesn’t make the people feel good to run on that wheel. And I think that will affect the work and the way the work is appreciated. So it’s myopic thinking by people that get a lot of dough.”
“Speaking of a lack of humanity,” Hunt added, “the AI thing may not be affecting us directly yet, but it’s coming. And it’s just, it’s such an easy box to tick off, and the resistance to agreement there is rather telling and a bit terrifying.”
Sudeikis noted that since a film or TV series begins with a script, it’s fitting that writers took action first. “I think this is probably happening in this order for a reason,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a reason AI would have come up with. I don’t think it’s a solution that AI can come up come up with, either. So we’re all here in support of each other, and whatever we have to do in June and the further months, so be it.”
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