Way back in June, it seemed that an actors’ strike might be poised to pour salt in the wounds of the writer’s strike. What wounds? you might ask. Well. People stopped caring about dramas with a plot. Ratings took a beating. Crew members couldn’t get jobs. Etc.
To avoid this kind of calamity, and people like me writing more articles about no one watches TV anymore, the actors have been working without a contract for months now without striking. But, this time, SAG (the screen actors guild) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) REALLY can’t come to an agreement. SAG says that it will ask members to vote for a strike.
George Clooney and Jack Nicholson are all in favor of this, probably because the royalties in question are actually going make a difference to people like them. I could go on about how unfair it is, because really, it’s going effect the little people…blah blah. But I won’t. The reality is, it probably won’t effect anymore, because SAG is basically saying: we’re going to ask for this because we know that no one wants a strike, and we think if we try to scare people, we will get what I want. (Please see my recent post on Unsuccessful Relationships.) Actually, while I wouldn’t want to openly support something bad like manipulation (despite having openly supported marital infidelity in past entries) I actually think SAGs strategy isn’t half bad.
The only problem is that no one really understands where the future of media is, or if there is a future for television, or what all this means. Everyone who is running things is old school and confused as all heck. Terror and ignorance tend to breed more terror and ignorance. While once, I’d say, yes, the AMPTP will happily let itself be manipuated in interest of the greater good, I think that in this case, everyone is really scared that all the money is just gone, and they don’t know how to earn it when people are watching TV online, and all the uncertainty will make people hit the “Double Triple Panic Button.” (Credit for that phrase to my college boyfriend. One of my favorite phrases to this day.)
It’s funny that I’d write this story about the panicked entertainment industry after seeing THE play that makes fun of money-hungry producers, David Mamet’s Speed the Plow. Yes, Jeremy Piven, jerky actor, who got famous playing a jerky agent is now starring a revival about Mamet’s jerky play about a jerky producer. Piven’s made an OK jerk. But I thought Raúl Esparza was fantastic, and here’s why. ALL his character wanted was money. ALL. Piven’s character is briefly deluded into thinking he’s fallen in love, but that turns out to be all about money, too. Then he’s just like us: he feels stupid because no one understands him. Boring! But Esparza played Chuck with some of the most moving tunnel vision I have ever seen on stage. Rarely do we see such steady purity of intent in anyone.
No one I know can make up their mind about anything. We don’t know exactly where we want to be, or how we want to get there. As a result, we are uneasily manipulating ourselves, like SAG, uncertain of how it will turn out, not sure of who and what we are tormenting, or which part of the sentence is hedging and which is real.
Not Chuck. Chuck had a vision, and using Mamet’s words and an exemplary show of Mamet’s acting technique, Esparza made me believe in Chuck. During the show, I was totally convinced that money was everything. But after I realized that what I had witnessed, for the first time in a long time, someone stick to a message for longer than it takes to hit “send. close. new window.”