Celebrity News

George Clooney and other stars donate $1M to help striking actors

Seeing a major movie or TV star on a picket line would certainly help draw attention to the three-week-old strike by Hollywood actors and writers. But some of the industry’s biggest names have opted to help in a different way: cold cash.

George and Amal Clooney, Meryl Streep, Matt and Luciana Damon, Nicole Kidman and Oprah Winfrey are among more than a dozen celebrities who have donated $1 million or more to a the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, an organization that provides financial assistance to actors facing financial crises.

The ongoing strike has halted all movie and TV productions that employ actors and writers who are members of the powerful Screen Actors Guild and Writers Guild of America. The unions are seeking to renegotiate streaming-era compensation packages and establish strict rules around the use of artificial intelligence, which is seen as a threat to both professions.

To date, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation has received more than $15 million in donations, the organization said Monday in a news release. Other $1 million-plus donors included Arnold Schwarzenegger, Julia Roberts, Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively, Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Hugh Jackman and Deborra-lee Furness.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson arguably started the big donor avalanche last week, after he contributed a seven-figure sum to the foundation. His gift was described at the time as the largest single donation ever made to the organization, and it clearly triggered an in-kind response from his peers.

The vast majority of the striking actors right now are middle-class performers living paycheck to paycheck and working multiple jobs. And during the strike, members will go without the work and pay they rely upon.

“Celebrities are a very small fraction of our union,” Ashley Nicole Black, an actor and writer best known for “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” and “A Black Lady Sketch Show,” tells USA TODAY. “Most of us are what you call ‘working actors.’ You’ve seen us in movies and TV shows, we play neighbors on sitcoms, and cops in movies, dancers at award shows and in musicals. … We are middle class.”

Actor and foundation president Courtney B. Vance said in a statement that the organization is processing “more than 30 times our usual number of applications for emergency aid, we received 400 applications in the last week alone. Our Emergency Financial Assistance Program is here to ensure that performers in need don’t lose their homes, have the ability to pay for utilities, buy food for their families, purchase life-saving prescriptions, cover medical bills and more.”

Streep recalled her years as an unknown actress who did odd jobs to make ends meet.

“I remember my days as a waiter, cleaner, typist, even my time on the unemployment line. In this strike action, I am lucky to be able to support those who will struggle in a long action to sustain against Goliath,” she said in a statement. “We will stand strong together against these powerful corporations who are bent on taking the humanity, the human dignity, even the human out of our profession.

Clooney said in his statement that “we’ve stood on the shoulders of the likes of Bette Davis and Jimmy Cagney and it’s time for our generation to give something back.”

Hollywood writers have been on strike since May 2. The combined SAG and WGA strikes immediately shut down TV shows and movies currently in production; it has already delayed the release of “Challengers, ” starring Zendaya, which had been set to debut at Venice International Film Festival but has now been pushed to 2024.

The strike terms also halt promotional appearances ranging from red carpet walks to media junkets. While the duration of the actors strike is unknown, some reports suggest studios are willing to hold out into the fall to win concessions.

This marks the first time in 63 years that both Hollywood actors and writers have been on strike simultaneously. Commercial actors last walked off the job for six months in 2000, while the last strike by film and theatrical actor members of SAG lasted 14 hours, back in 1986. The writers staged a 100-day walkout in 2007 and 2008.

In other news – Robert Downey Jr. reveals he is giving away 6 cars from his personal collection

Robert Downey Jr. is feeling generous. On Tuesday, the Iron Man star, 58, presented a surprise giveaway opportunity to his fans involving his automobile collection.

“In case you haven’t heard yet, I’m giving away some of my cars,” the actor wrote in one of his Instagram Stories. In the photo, Downey Jr. is sitting on one of six classic cars presented in the image. Read More

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