Analyzing the Current SAG-AFTRA Strike and Demands on Both Sides


As a “Quincy, M.E.” TV series historian, I can’t help but notice the striking similarities between past and present labor disputes in the entertainment industry. One case that stands out is the legal battle between actor Jack Klugman and Universal City Studios over the television series “Quincy, M.E.” back in 2010. Now, as the entertainment industry faces yet another significant labor struggle, the current SAG-AFTRA strike, it prompts me to reflect on whether Jack Klugman was truly ahead of his time. Let’s delve into the recent SAG-AFTRA strike and the demands on both sides while drawing parallels with the previous dispute involving Jack Klugman.

The Jack Klugman and Universal City Studios Settlement

In 2010, the legendary Jack Klugman, known for his portrayal of Quincy in the hit series “Quincy, M.E.,” took on Universal City Studios in a legal battle. At the time, Klugman, who was 88 years old, claimed that the studio owed him millions of dollars in unpaid profits for his work on the show. His 1976 contract with NBC entitled him and his company, Sweater Productions, to 25 percent of the “net profits” from the series. Klugman asserted breach of an oral agreement and a lack of regular accountings, while Universal contended that the show incurred a substantial loss of $66 million from 1998 through 2006.

The Current SAG-AFTRA Strike

Fast forward to today, and the entertainment industry is once again grappling with labor tensions. Since all us watch crime-drama TV series like Quincy, Columbo, and more current series like Blue Bloods, we can all say that after this summer’s X (formerly Twitter) replies and Facebook commentary, we have all observed the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), a major actors’ union, initiating a strike against major studios and production companies. This strike has emerged due to disagreements over crucial issues that directly impact the lives and livelihoods of its members.

Demands on Both Sides

At the heart of the SAG-AFTRA strike are several key demands from the union:

  1. Fair Compensation: SAG-AFTRA is tirelessly advocating for fair wages and residuals for its members, particularly with the rise of streaming platforms and digital media consumption. This demand aligns with the insights provided by Matthew Cornell in his YouTube video, “Actors: Understanding Residuals,” where he explains the significance of residuals as a form of passive income for actors when their projects are distributed through various channels.
  2. Better Working Conditions: Improved working conditions on sets, including reasonable hours, breaks, and adequate rest between shoots, rank high on the union’s list of demands. My observations align with Dan Murrell’s YouTube video on the strike, where actors and performers express concerns about grueling schedules and inadequate breaks.
  3. Health and Safety: SAG-AFTRA is vigorously seeking comprehensive health and safety protocols to protect its members, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This demand comes in response to the challenges faced by the entertainment industry during the pandemic, as highlighted by Dan Murrell in his video.
  4. Residuals for Streaming: Given the surge in streaming services, SAG-AFTRA emphasizes the necessity for its members to receive fair residuals when their projects are streamed online. This demand aligns with the changing landscape of media consumption and the uncertainties studios face, as highlighted by Dan Murrell’s video.

On the other side of the negotiation table, studios and production companies have their own set of challenges:

  1. Production Costs: Studios argue that the rising costs of production make it challenging to meet some of the union’s financial demands. Dan Murrell’s insights offer valuable perspectives on the financial complexities studios encounter.
  2. Uncertain Revenue Streams: The changing landscape of media consumption has left studios uncertain about their future revenue streams. Insights from Matthew Cornell and Dan Murrell contribute to understanding the evolving economic dynamics of the entertainment industry and its impact on studios and production companies.

Jack Klugman’s Dispute in Perspective

Reflecting on Jack Klugman’s dispute with Universal City Studios and comparing it to the current SAG-AFTRA strike, I see the echoes of his past battle in the demands of today’s actors. The shift towards streaming platforms and the digital age has significantly altered revenue models, necessitating a reevaluation of how actors are compensated in this new era of entertainment.


As I continue to observe the unfolding SAG-AFTRA strike, I eagerly anticipate seeing how the negotiations will play out and whether both sides will eventually find common ground. My experience as a TV series historian and archivist has taught me that progress in the entertainment industry is often achieved through collective action and a genuine understanding of the challenges faced by all parties involved. Whether it was Jack Klugman’s battle in 2010, the insights shared by Matthew Cornell in his YouTube video titled “Actors: Understanding Residuals,” or the actors of today, these labor disputes reflect the ongoing struggle for fair treatment, respect, and recognition of the invaluable contributions of artists to the world of entertainment.

Both Jack Klugman’s past fight and the current SAG-AFTRA strike underscore the importance of addressing the evolving nature of the entertainment industry, striving for equitable solutions that support the livelihoods of actors, studios, and the industry as a whole. The knowledge shared by Matthew Cornell on actor residuals adds another layer of understanding to the complexities faced by actors concerning their compensation and rights. Only time will reveal whether the demands of the present will pave the way for a more sustainable and collaborative future for all those involved in the captivating world of storytelling.

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