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Must Reads: Zachary Quinto Steps Into the SAG-AFTRA Fray, The Bear & The Circle Renewed, and More News

A lot has been happening since our last installment of “Must Reads” on Friday, though it’s hard to tell if any real progress has been happening in the SAG-AFTRA/AMPTP contract negotiations. SAG-AFTRA took a number of full days off from negotiations over the weekend to review what the AMPTP has called its “Last, Best & Final Offer.” While things have been going on that seem to point to the strike being over soon, it doesn’t seem to be going nearly as smoothly as the WGA negotiations did last month, and both parties seem to be stuck on AI rights, which has been a key issue from the start.

On Monday night, the SAG-AFTRA TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee released the following statement on its socials, as the day came to a close with plans to resume on Tuesday.

source: SAG-AFTRA Instagram

Dear #SagAftraMembers:

This morning our negotiators formally responded to the AMPTP’s “Last, Best & Final” offer.

Please know every member of our TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee is determined to secure the right deal and thereby bring this strike to an end responsibly.

There are several essential items on which we still do not have an agreement, including AI. We will keep you informed as events unfold.

In solidarity and gratitude,
Your TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee 

Zachary Quinto (Instagram)

Over the past 36 hours, actor Zachary Quinto (Star Trek, Heroes) has been very vocal on his Instagram about the current phase of negotiations, even addressing the below-the-line workers who haven’t worked in months while asking that the SAG-AFTRA negotiators hold strong and don’t accept a weaker deal despite all the pressures involved.

Quinto wrote:

“acknowledging all of our below the line colleagues who never asked for the burden of the sacrifices that they’ve been forced to make. please follow the link in my bio to make a donation to the motion picture television fund and help relieve some of the financial stresses that are being laid at the feet of so many in our industry.”

One person from the crew side of things responded: “I think the biggest fear all us below the line union members have deep down, below any frustrations you see us have, is that we will not see this level of solidarity when it’s our turn. Will you respect our picket line if/when we need to have one next fall?”

You can watch the rest of his video pleas to SAG leadership, particularly President Fran Drescher on his Instagram account.

Timothée Chalamet on Saturday Night Live in 2020 (NBC)

On the positive side of things, two actors with movies coming out this holiday season have signed on to host Saturday Night Live, first Timothée Chalamet, who has Wonka in December, and then Jason Momoa, who has Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom opening a week later. Both have hosted before, Chalamet in Dec. 2020, and Momoa in December two years earlier. One presumes they can only be on late night potentially promoting those upcoming movies if a deal has been made with SAG-AFTRA… or they can just appear as actors in sketches and not mention those movies, but that would be quite weird, wouldn’t it?

The Bear
Jeremy Allen White and Liza Colon-Zayas in The Bear/Matt Dinerstein/FX

Another thing that offers hope is the number of series being renewed after a spate of network and streamer cancellations. It’s little surprise that FX and Hulu would renew The Bear, starring Jeremy Allen White and Ayo Edebiri, for a third season, considering the 13 Emmy nominations that Season 1 garnered back in July. Created by Christopher Storer, Season 3 will continue the story of White’s Chicago chef, Carmy Berzatto, who returns home to run his family’s sandwich shop after his brother’s death.

FX also announced Season 1 of Ryan Murphy‘s American Sports Story, which will cover the life and career of Aaron Hernandez, as played by Josh Andrés Rivera, who will star in the upcoming The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, as well as Patrick Schwarzenegger playing former NFL star, Tim Tebow. Both casting deals were done before the strike in early 2023 but were not confirmed until recently. The first season of American Sports Story is based on the podcast Gladiator: Aaron Hernandez and Football Inc from the Boston Globe and Wondery.

Also, Netflix renewed its reality series, The Circle, for Seasons 3 and 4 with filming moving from the UK to that American production hotbed, Atlanta, Georgia. The reality competition show involves players moving into separate apartments in the same building while being kept isolated from the outside world and each other, only speaking via a social media app while rating and eliminating others. The show lost its Manchester, UK apartments which were converted back to regular flats, so they followed other reality shows like Love is Blind and Lego Masters Georgia, where there’s a nice tax incentive.

Speaking of the WGA, David Young took his exit as the WGA West Exec. Director after 18 years with the strike’s chief negotiator, Ellen Stutzman, taking over that post. Young had been on medical leave since February but was consulting with the WGA behind the scenes during the guild’s tense contract negotiations with the AMPTP.

In other exec. news, Disney has named PepsiCo Exec. Hugh F. Johnston as its new chief financial officer (CFO), beginning Dec. 4. He is replacing the company’s interim CFO, Kevin Lansberry, who will return to his position as EVP and CFO of Disney’s Experiences segment.

(L-R) Robert De Niro, Bobby Cannavale, William Fitzgerald in Ezra (Bleecker Street)

Tony Goldwyn‘s dramedy, Ezra, starring Bobby Canavale, Robert De NiroRose Byrne, and Vera Farmiga received a fairly low-key premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) back in September, but now, Bleecker Street has picked it up for distribution.

Jonathan Glazer‘s upcoming Holocaust drama, The Zone of Interest, which is considered to be a favorite in the Oscar International Feature category, led the nominations for this year’s European Film Awards with five nominations, with other Oscar players – Matteo Garrone’s Io Capitano, Aki Kaurismäki’s Fallen Leaves, Agnieszka Holland’s Green Border, and Justine Triet’s Anatomy of a Fall – also in the mix.

Above the Line‘s Max Evry spoke to Producer Basil Iwanyk, specifically about John Wick: Chapter 4, but he also got to ask him about a possible Chapter 5, and you can read what Iwaynk said here.

There haven’t been that many new trailers since Friday, but Disney and Marvel Studio made one last desperate attempt to convince people to go see its upcoming, The Marvels, starring Brie Larson, by releasing a final trailer during Monday Night Football. We’ll find out this weekend if it makes a difference in changing people’s minds despite the movie’s shockingly low ticket presales.

Deadline provided reporting on some of the stories above.

Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas has written about movies for print and the internet for over 20 years, specializing in box office analysis, reviews, and interviews. Currently, he writes features for Below the Line and Above the Line, acting as Associate Editor for the former and Interim Editor for the latter.
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