The former Paramount boss Barry Diller’s comments are sure to be contentious on both sides of the strike divide.
Barry Diller is an industry veteran, having been the former head of ABC, Fox Broadcasting Company, and Paramount. Throughout his years as a Hollywood mogul, he would have played his part in the types of contract negotiations that we’ve seen break down here in 2023, bringing the US film industry (not to mention the wider global impact) to a grinding halt.
Diller has offered his thoughts on the strike, during an appearance for CBS News and they are bound to be contentious, no matter which side of the fault line you happen to be situated. His ideas (reported by Deadline) include:
As a measure of good-faith, Diller argues the executives and the “most-paid” actors should take a 25% pay cut to try and narrow the gap between those who get highly paid and those that don’t.
According to Diller, artificial intelligence fears are “overhyped.” He states, “Yes, you can ingest all this stuff and spit out something that sounds like Shakespeare, but guess what? It is not original Shakespeare. And writers will get assisted, not replaced. Most of these actual performing crafts, I don’t think are in danger of artificial intelligence.”
He also points out that several publishers (whom he would not name) are preparing to take huge legal action against the developers of AI that uses mass learning models to plagiarise on a mass level. This would mirror similar legal action that we’re seeing from other creators across media, be they writers, musicians or artists.
Finally, Diller argues that there needs to be a September 1 strike settlements deadline. Otherwise, he says: “next year, there’s not going to be many programs for anybody to watch. So, you’re going to see subscriptions get pulled, which is going to reduce the revenue of all these movie companies, television companies, the result of which is that there will be no programs.” He claims that would be a disaster, perhaps leading to “an absolute collapse of an entire industry.”
There’s a lot to unpack here but Diller’s comments about wage cuts for top actors an executives likely won’t go down too well either side of the fence, whilst his comments on artificial intelligence seem more than a little flippant. Still though, the man has put forward a path out of this deadlock at least, even if it won’t be to the tastes of everybody.
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