Hollywood’s Triple-A list actors have started becoming integrally involved in trying to solve the Writers Guild strike against the Hollywood CEOs. I’ve just been told that George Clooney today is volunteering to personally set up a so-called “mediation panel” including himself and with plans to ask Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and John Wells (the executive producer of ER and a controversial ex-WGA president) to be part of it, plus 3 or 4 bigwigs who are siding with the producers. The offer came in a phone call today with Harvey Weinstein who promptly volunteered to be part of the panel. Clooney suggested its purpose should be to oversee the talks and tell the WGA as each term is bargained “you have to live with this and get over it,” and tell the AMPTP “you have to live with that and get over it”, Weinstein quoted George as saying. It’s also Clooney’s idea that everybody would be locked in the room together and not leave until the deal is done. FRIDAY UPDATE: A Clooney insider tells me: “It would be more accurate to say that George has and would offer to help, including putting a group of people in a room that know both the CEOs and the writers personally. And that of course he would do anything to get this over. He didn’t use any of the rhetoric that’s being attributed to him [by Weinstein]. His stance has always been to find common ground and not alienate each other.”
This follows a London interview by that other Triple-A lister Tom Hanks linking the fate of the upcoming Academy Awards to the studios’ continued refusal to “get down to honest bargaining”. Both Clooney and Hanks are making it clear publicly that they’re concerned about the writers strike’s collateral damage. Hanks said corporate bosses should remember that many ancillary businesspeople were suffering from the studios and networks refusing to restart negotiations with the Writers Guild. “There are caterers and carpenters … and electricians and gaffers,” Hanks told Reuters in London Wednesday night. “There are a lot of people out there associated with the industry, for whom the sooner this work stoppage is over the better.” And Clooney said much the same thing when he appeared onstage at Monday night’s Critics Choice Awards (photo above): “When the strike happens, it’s not just writers [affected]… Our hope is that all the players will lock themselves in a room and not come out until they finish. We want this to be done. That’s the most important thing.”
Now that Clooney and Hanks are at the head of the line, then Will Smith, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Reese Witherspoon, Russell Crowe, Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster, Julia Roberts and other AAA-listers may follow their lead. As I wrote way back on November 7th soon after the WGA strike started and have said repeatedly since, the only time I’ve ever heard of Hollywood CEOs caving on a major negotiation is when they get in the same room with a major star. There’s just something so needy within the Hollywood moguls’ psyche that they want to be liked and respected by the creatives they in turn like and respect. (I assume this is why these businessmen make TV and movies instead of toothpaste and mattresses.) Therefore, any professional, personal and even psychological pressure put by these top-of-the-heap artists on the studio and network bosses could make all the difference in solving this strike.