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Hollywood Writers' Strike Enters Third Month

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike, which began just after May Day, is now in its third month. The strike is the first major work stoppage in Hollywood in 15 years, and it has had a significant impact on the entertainment industry.

The sentiment behind this action is in order to recalibrate the system. As everyone knows, writers are the heart and soul of television and film. Without their considerable creativity and hard-fought efforts, there would be no shows or movies. The writers' strike takes a classic narrative device as a David vs. Goliath story. The studios have all the power, but the writers are not going to give up until they get a fair deal.

Writer's Strike Act 2

The WGA is seeking better compensation for its members, including higher pay for streaming residuals and more transparency in how studios calculate those payments. The guild is also calling for changes to the writers' credit system, which it says is unfair to writers who work on collaborative projects.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents the studios, has offered some concessions to the WGA, but the two sides have been unable to reach an agreement. The AMPTP has said that it is willing to increase pay for streaming residuals, but it has refused to make changes to the credit system.

The strike has had a major impact on Hollywood production. All scripted television production has come to a halt, and several film projects have been delayed. The strike has also had a ripple effect on the economy, as it has led to job losses in the catering, transportation, and other industries that support Hollywood production.

It is unclear how long the strike will last. Both sides have said that they are committed to reaching an agreement, but they have also said that they are prepared to continue the strike for as long as necessary.

The strike has been met with mixed reactions. Some people have praised the WGA for standing up for its members, while others have criticized the strike for disrupting Hollywood production. It remains to be seen how the strike will ultimately be resolved, but it is clear that it has had a significant impact on the entertainment industry.

What's at Stake in the Writers' Strike

The writers' strike is about more than just money. It's about the future of writing in Hollywood. The guild is also seeking changes to the way that writers are credited for their work, as well as more transparency in how studios calculate streaming residuals.

The current credit framework is based on a point system, with each writer receiving a certain number of points for their contributions to a project. The number of points that a writer receives determines their position in the credits. The WGA is calling for a system that is based on the actual work that writers do, rather than a point system.

The studios have also been criticized for their lack of transparency when it comes to methods of calculating streaming residuals. Residuals are payments that are made to writers when their work is re-aired or streamed. The studios have refused to disclose how they calculate these payments, which has made it difficult for writers to know how much they are owed.

The WGA is also seeking changes to the way that writers are paid for their work on streaming platforms. The studios have argued that streaming platforms are a new and untested market, and that they need more time to develop a fair system for compensating writers. The WGA has countered that the studios are simply trying to take advantage of writers who are not as well-informed about the streaming market.

The writers' strike is a complex issue, and there are no easy answers. However, it is clear that the strike is about more than just money. The WGA is also seeking changes to the way that writers are treated in the entertainment industry. The outcome of the strike will have a significant impact on the future of writing in Hollywood.

The Fairy Tales We Tell Ourselves About Piracy

It's funny to think that it's still so prevalent in an age where we've never had so much readily available and inexpensive entertainment at our fingertips. Most pirates have to pay for their data, unless they're stealing wi-fi too, so why not enjoy the millions of hours of free-to-stream content on YouTube. Beyond the freemium streaming models, there are numerous streaming platforms such as Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime and Showmax to choose from at relatively inexpensive subscriptions. Whether music or movies, it seems it's not enough to have first-rate entertainment just a click away. The desire to circumvent the system to land the latest TV series or movies illegally seems like all the reason pirates need to justify their actions.

The Fairy Tales We Tell Ourselves About Piracy

While we may not like to think about it, we're the best at fooling ourselves, able to justify almost anything with enough obfuscation. We say things like "I usually pay for my entertainment" or "I'm not harming anyone" or "One or two downloads from time to time won't have an impact". This is why piracy is so difficult to combat, trying to curtail the crisis from the point of the end-users who are enabling a criminal empire. While it's important to educate around the knock-on effect of piracy, regulators and providers are realising it's not enough. This is why local agencies are changing the way they fight piracy by focusing on tracking their way back up to the command chain.

Perhaps the real confusion stems from the word's close links with pirates of the high sea, who in spite of Johnny Depp's best efforts, are often portrayed in a heroic light. Just like the perpetuation of the infamous Pirate Bay, the idea of sailing the seven seas as a freedom-loving and rum-swilling vagabond, doesn't seem all that bad. The truth of the matter is that there's no honour among pirates because they're thieves, there to pillage and harm while the sun shines. Piracy has a macro and micro impact, which many perpetrators fail to understand. Unfortunately, whether through apathy or ignorance these people are unwittingly sabotaging the industry, undermining the enterprises and subsequently the players themselves.

The constant epidemic of piracy, affects industry professionals, including publishing, TV, animation, sports, cinema, music, and gaming. Irdeto, a global leader in digital platform cybersecurity, reports that between June and August 2021, people in five major African territories visited the top 10 identified piracy websites a total of about 17.4 million times to download content illegally. On the world stage, digital video piracy costs the entertainment industry up to $71 billion year*, damaging businesses and destroying lives and livelihoods in an economy still reeling after Covid.

Content platforms stop commissioning local content when the local industry is no longer feasible due to content piracy and copyright violations, and local material is therefore readily replaced by less expensive, often international alternatives. Even though it might be more economical, importing content stunts the development of the regional industry, locally-produced content and efforts to create jobs.

According to Justice and Constitutional Development minister Ronald Lamola, "digital technologies" such as Netflix and Showmax are "opening up new markets", showing an eagerness to invest in South Africa's film industry but piracy has the potential to collapse the industry. A negative impact on our economy and creative professionals, "we run the risk of reversing gains" if our "we are not seen as a country where intellectual property is respected and protected".

The Cybercrimes Act, introduced in December 2021, allows the government to tackle piracy by imposing harsher sentences on dealers and sellers, "who manipulate intellectual property to the detriment of society". Lamola believes that state resources could be used more wisely when it comes to specialised commercial crime units, who typically confiscate goods and arrest traders, saying the battle against intellectual property crimes will rely on an improved system being able to resolve collaborative, jurisdictional and technological challenges to "identify and arrest the leaders of intellectual property crimes" who live across the globe.

Partners Against Piracy (PAP) is a pan-African campaign to tackle content piracy, an initiative that aims to inform and educate the public about the impacts of piracy. This partnership between governmental organizations, law enforcement organizations, distributors, content producers, and rights holders has already had results thanks to a joint operation between law enforcement agents and content-piracy detectives in apprehending a group peddling content around the Showmax series, The Wife.

*US Chamber of Commerce's Global Innovation Policy Center

Who's Who in the Hollywood Zoo?

What happened to the next generation of movie stars? It seems as though we've been hanging onto the same name actors for ages. Tom Cruise was a star in Top Gun in 1986 and nothing's really changed if you consider the amazing response to the follow-up some 35 years later. Having starred in Interview with a Vampire, there are some obvious parallels given the actor's multi-generational film career and while no one's holding out for him to reboot The Highlander, any attempt may be more biographical than we'd initially expected.

The new generation of Hollywood heavyweights are still rather lightweight at the moment if you consider the new Spider-Man on the block in Tom Holland. Being the primary next-gen star who seems burdened by all hopes and dreams, you can understand the actor taking a one-year hiatus. If you take a closer look, it seems most of the buzz is around Spider-Man, Harry Potter and Dune cast members in Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe. While the latter are still trying to shed their Hogwart's, it seems as though the industry's tendency to bank on safer options and share the load among broader ensembles is having an unfortunate knock-on effect in not vetting fresh talent.

who's who in the hollywood zoo

We're still de-aging and upcycling the old guard. While it seems that Jack Nicholson has finally exited stage left, the same can't be said for 80-year-old, Harrison Ford, who's more prolific than ever with Yellowstone and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. There's a band of "Flagship Brands", headline acts who still seem to be alive and kicking... think Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Charlize Theron, Brad Pitt, Mark Wahlberg, Jim Carrey, Keanu Reeves, Denzel Washington, Dwayne Johnson, Nicole Kidman, Scarlett Johansson and yes, even Will Smith.

If these bankable stars are still sitting pretty, you've got to give all due respect to the legacy projects. Able to navigate their way through the highs and lows of Hollywood, their stars may have been tarnished at some point but are characterised by the sentiment of "I've Still Got It, Damnit!". Among this legendary selection of never-say-die fighters you'll find the likes of: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Daniel Craig, Sylvester Stallone, Samuel L. Jackson, Bill Murray, Sandra Bullock, Jason Statham, Liam Neeson, Jackie Chan, Vin Diesel, Christopher Walken, Colin Farrell, Gerard Butler, Patrick Stewart, Jennifer Aniston, Milla Jovovich, Clint Eastwood, Michelle Yeoh and Johnny Depp.

While many of the aforementioned actors have managed to find a healthy balance of publicity and performance, garnering accolades and big pay days, they're only shamed by a purer kind of Hollywood animal. The lesser-spotted "Shut Up, I'm in Character" movie star. These creatures are more concerned with the actual art of camouflage and shapeshifting. Leaning into the light and dark of their roles, they suspend ego (to a degree) in order to mine the depths of their characters in the hopes that somebody notices enough to put them on a pedestal. More revered than remunerated, Daniel Day-Lewis would be their cult leader. The list of actor actors includes: Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, Colin Firth, James McAvoy, Kate Winslet, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Hopkins, Meryl Streep, Javier Bardem, Hugh Jackman, Geoffrey Rush, Andy Serkis, Michael Fassbender, Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams, Tom Hardy, Willem Dafoe, Eddie Redmayne, Jessica Chastain, Tilda Swinton, Jesse Eisenberg, Bill Nighy, Joaquin Phoenix, Hugh Grant, Jennifer Connelly, Jeff Bridges, Andrew Garfield, Viola Davis, Edward Norton, Michael Shannon, Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Ethan Hawke, Gary Oldman, Paul Dano, Toni Collette, Benedict Cumberbatch and Rooney Mara.

As amazing as dramatic actors can be, they're at least a little bit envious of another species of actor... "The Funny Guys". These charming critters hold the power of laughter. It has medicinal value as scientifically-proven and if given in the right doses can prove to be very lucrative at the box office. Whether blessed with the gift of the gab, naturally funny-looking or organically self-deprecating and immune to ridicule, this amusing collective may not win Oscars all that easily but are sure to be the life of the party... readily landing laughs all the way to the bank. In this cluster, you'll find actors like: Steve Carell, Ryan Reynolds, Paul Rudd, Adam Sandler, Jack Black, Owen Wilson, Ben Stiller, Seth Rogen, Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, Sacha Baron Cohen, Zach Galifianakis, Melissa McCarthy, Vince Vaughn, Ed Helms and Anna Kendrick.

In the delicious here and now, we're trying to figure out who's actually leading the current generation of acting talents. The superhero craze has created a draft or blueprint on who we should be giving more attention. Although packing actors into these spectacular sardine cans means we can't easily separate stars from CGI and each other. Known as "The Contenders", these actors have shown promise... and been given great responsibility, however as much as we love them... none have truly gone from good to great, transcending the celluloid to the point of decade-defying legend. This talented and possibly underappreciated lot includes: Emily Blunt, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Channing Tatum, Jennifer Lawrence, Ryan Gosling, Gal Gadot, Zoe Saldana, Chris Pratt, Chris Hemsworth, Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Olsen, Idris Elba, Adam Driver, Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Chris Pine, Henry Cavill, Jason Momoa, Michael B. Jordan, Emma Stone, Dave Bautista, Rami Malek, Zac Efron, Miles Teller, Anya Taylor-Joy, Chloë Grace Moretz, Zoë Kravitz, Tye Sheridan, Ansel Elgort and Nicholas Hoult.

Spare a thought for the "I Know That Face" brigade, a collective of talents who have consistently delivered the goods but haven't managed to assume household name fame. Their tireless efforts are duly noted come awards season but through non-star name appropriation or niche dynasty, they haven't quite done enough to win mainstream appeal. A gold mine of serious acts with supporting act potential, these players are constantly nipping at the heels, recognisable yet unable to latch onto enough pop culture capital to get tongues wagging... yet. A diligent bunch who you'll keep recognising until you feel compelled to Google and say their names in front of the mirror, they include: Karl Urban, Rebecca Ferguson, Taron Egerton, Mads Mikkelson, Christoph Waltz, Riz Ahmed, Dan Stevens, Domhnall Gleeson, Felicity Jones, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Emilia Clarke, Shailene Woodley, Alicia Vikander, Vera Farmiga, Gael Garcia Bernal, Alexander Skarsgård, Marion Cotillard, Paul Bettany, Mark Strong, William H. Macy, Mark Rylance, Sean Harris and yes, his name is William Fichtner.

Finally, one of the rarest of these Hollywood movie stars can be best described as "Which Planet Are You From?". These astronomical actors have an innate out-of-the-box sensibility, able to operate by raw intuition and fascinating enough to occupy any role with a degree of flamboyance. Much like cats, we're left wondering what they're really thinking... enigmatic and spacey enough to question the very essence of what it means to be human. A very rare and exquisite species, they are few in number but come to encompass the likes of Jeff Goldblum, Bill Hader, John Malkovich, Taika Waititi, Tony Hale, Jermaine Clement.

There's a Harrison Ford in Your Future

It's hard to believe that Harrison Ford is 80 years old. Born in Chicago to a radio actress and actor turned advertising executive, Harrison Ford started out as an average student, dropping out of college to sign a contract with Columbia and later Universal. After a few so-so appearances, Ford left the acting scene to focus on professional carpentry, before returning to screen some 4 years later in American Graffiti (1973).

This return set the platform for a career-defining turn as Han Solo in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). A few years later, Ford caught lightning in a bottle again when he headlined Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Now decades later, Ford's on the verge of retiring the beloved Indiana Jones character in the fifth instalment Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. Having led a movie career that's spanned the better part of a century, it seems like a good time to look back at the actor's career.

Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford has always been a committed and respected actor, but hasn't managed to land that coveted Oscar. While nominated for his leading role detective John Book in Witness (1981), the actor's film career has been muddled by his strong affiliation with mega-blockbuster franchises as Han Solo and Indiana Jones, dabbling with Jack Ryan and Rick Deckard along the way. The Academy Awards are deemed to be the pinnacle of success in the Hollywood game, yet the industry accolades are slanted in favour of drama over other genres. This notion is slowly changing over time as they come to embrace animation and more open-ended achievements as technology begins to play a much larger part of creating these films. Yet, Ford is a product of a century of American film-making, where drama and transformative performances are still prized over mainstream appeal.

The quiet yet charming actor has been a commercial success and while having one of those golden statuettes over his mantelpiece may have been a nice touch, it doesn't really seem crucial for a private pilot and owner of an 800-acre Wyoming ranch. Ford, much like his namesake, is more about delivering reliable, you-see-what-you-get type performances that go the extra mile. A versatile talent with a few trademark elements, he's managed to create a space where he's able to filter into different performances without becoming overtly linked to any one role. This has been a boon for Ford as an actor, developing his name star to attract big headline roles and pay days, retaining a perfect gentleman quality that prevents him from being typecast.

One of the problems with diving headlong into a performance is that it may be so damn good that it becomes difficult for audiences to see anything else when they connect with that performer. These kind of all-or-nothing moves turn heads, show an actor's unquestionable thirst to inhabit their character and can lead to major awards but they can also be risky in terms of career decisions. To his credit, Harrison Ford has stuck to his guns and remained a straight shooter whether evading tribesmen or stormtroopers, ratcheting up a strong body of work in the process. While it's surprising to note that only 25 of his movies have been deemed fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, the ever-likable yet rugged Ford has managed to retain due respect and keep his heels clean in even the most unfortunate of movie outings.

A beloved and dedicated Hollywood heavyweight, his efforts were recently acknowledged with an Honorary Golden Palm at the Cannes film festival where Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny premiered. An emotional moment alongside his wife Calista Flockhart, this lifetime achievement accolade will probably be expected and repeated at forthcoming awards ceremonies. Signaling a humble and respectable career, one can only imagine there will be many more standing ovations to come as the star's evergreen performances continue to remind us why he's Harrison Ford.

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