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Fran Drescher’s Infuriating WGA Strike Comments Have Actors Concerned

"I do not think it means what you think it means" - Inigo Montoya

Fran Drescher

It’s unclear whether or not current SAG-AFTRA president and former Nanny Fran Drescher knows what the word “solidarity” means. However, based on the response to comments she made at a WGA picket line on Monday, it’s crystal clear that actors are concerned about Drescher’s ability to lead a labor union.

Fran Drescher’s comments

Drescher, along with fellow SAG-AFTRA members, appeared at the Writers’ Guild of America (WGA) picket line outside the Paramount lot in L.A. earlier this week. SAG-AFTRA, the actors’ union, will be entering their own negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) beginning on June 7.

When asked by Deadline about the possibility of a SAG-AFTRA strike if their talks with the AMPTP go the same way as the writers’ negotiations, Drescher had this to say:

“SAG-AFTRA is a very big union and we represent many different career paths that fall under that umbrella. So, it’s a very big, complicated conversation, and I don’t think what’s very important to writers—and I’m a writer, too, in the WGA—is the kind of stuff that we’re going after. So, although I’m very empathic for their needs to be honored, I feel like our conversation is gonna be very different, and I feel very hopeful that we won’t get to this point.”

The interviewer followed up by asking whether SAG-AFTRA would continue to support the WGA Strike even if they themselves have a satisfactory negotiation with the AMPTP. She said, “We’ll always support our sister unions. Always. Without solidarity amongst the entertainment unions, we undermine ourselves.”

The guise of “solidarity”

(20th Century Studios)

When Variety reported on Drescher’s appearance at Paramount, they framed it as a huge show of solidarity. Drescher did pose for a photo with WGA president Meredith Stiehm and she said a lot of the right things. But one thing she said in the Variety piece struck me as odd.

“They feel like this strike is a strike for everybody in the industry,” Drescher said of SAG-AFTRA’s response to the strike.

Having seen actors out on the picket lines for the past several days, this is clearly true. But it’s interesting that the president of SAG-AFTRA, a fellow actor, would use the word they when discussing what the union’s membership thinks, as if they’re separate from her.

It’s as if she’s has trouble feeling solidarity with her own union.

Entertainment industry publications like Deadline, Variety, and The Hollywood Reporter are all owned by the same company and have a vested interest in biased coverage of the WGA to undermine the strike.

With Variety propping up Drescher’s participation as a huge act of solidarity (even as she separates herself from her membership), and Deadline posting video of Drescher saying the word “solidarity” out of one side of her mouth while distancing herself from writers (even as she asserts WGA membership) from the other, it seems like a purposeful effort to muddy the water.

And while it’s true that every union is different and does have unique needs and requirements, the fact that she sees writer needs and actor needs as so completely different is a huge concern, indicating either a lack of understanding or a lack of solidarity. Or both.

Actors speak out about their union president

Actor, writer, and director Ginger Gonzaga took on Drescher’s statement in a Twitter thread to point out all the ways in which actually, actors and writers do share concerns:

Somehow, Drescher either doesn’t see the connections, or chooses not to acknowledge them.

Drescher’s recent comments also prompted actors to express their general dissatisfaction with their union and its leader:

The above is in reference to Drescher’s long-time anti-vax position and her support of ending COVID-19 protocols in the entertainment industry, particularly the vaccination mandates for “Zone A,” which is the Zone in which actors—the most vulnerable people on set, because their jobs require them to be mask-less more often—work.

Individual actors I’ve seen out there on the picket lines know what’s up. They understand what’s at stake, and genuinely see solidarity with other unions as necessary for all workers in entertainment to get what they need and fight exploitation and abuses in the workplace.

If only the leader of their union prioritized solidarity in the same way. Or even understood it.

(featured image: Chelsea Guglielmino, FilmMagic)

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Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.