🍪 Hollywood’s on strike
Happy Thursday, friends. This is Bite Sized Beta. We’re your ice bath to this damn heat wave.
Let’s get to the good stuff.
In the oven this week:
🪧 Actors on strike and 2 buffoons
🗳️ Poll of the week: strike predictions
🍪 Cookie crumbs: 6 bite-sized headlines
🍫 Chocolate chips: 3 of our favorite finds
😂 Snickerdoodles: memes for the weekend
ACTORS ON STRIKE AND TWO BUFFOONS
Let me tell you a tale of 2 buffoons.
But before we get to these clowns, we gotta run it back for context.
This week, Hollywood actors joined the ongoing writers’ strike.
I know what you’re thinking.
What’s this got to do with tech?
Well, these guys got a lotta gripes, but their main ones are with streaming services and AI.
Let me explain.
Jerry Seinfeld is worth hundreds of millions of dollars because he gets a share of syndication sales: AKA a royalty every time Seinfeld runs.
This is great for him because it pays the bills even if he’s in between jobs and not actively filming.
Now, we have all these streaming services, which pay actors and writers a set amount of money after the show goes live.
Doesn’t matter if you’re a hit or not.
Your movie’s breaking streaming records? Too bad, ya don’t get paid any more than what you’ve been promised.
Now actors and writers are demanding an ongoing share of that streaming revenue, pointing to a widening income disparity between streaming CEOs and workers.
In comes buffoon number 1: Bob Iger, CEO of Disney (owns Disney+)
"There is a level of expectations that [the writers and actors] have that is just not realistic," says $DIS CEO @RobertIger on the @sagaftra and WGA strike. "They are adding to a set of challenges that this business is already facing and that is very disruptive."
— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC)
Jul 13, 2023
He says the protesters are being unrealistic, and calls the strike a “shame” and a disruption to his business.
Note to self: when your workers are on strike, maybe don't gaslight them.
His comments got people even more worked up and now he’s got writers living below the poverty line skewering him for the interview.
Not a great look for a dude who got paid $27 mil last year…
Meanwhile, the second thing writers are asking for is protection against AI use. They think producers will replace them with AI to write scripts or fill in the blanks on unfinished screenplays, and want stronger rules around how AI is used.
At this point, buffoon number 2 rounds the block: Fable Studios.
Amidst the chaos, a company called Fable Studios decided now was precisely the right time to showcase an AI that can “write, animate, direct, voice, edit” a whole TV show — and demonstrate it with a whole fake South Park episode:
Announcing our paper on Generative TV & Showrunner Agents!
Create episodes of TV shows with a prompt - SHOW-1 will write, animate, direct, voice, edit for you.
We used South Park FOR RESEARCH ONLY - we won't be releasing ability to make your own South Park episodes -not our IP! http
— The Simulation (@fablesimulation)
Jul 18, 2023
AKA writers’ worst fears happening right before their eyes.
If that wasn’t enough, they followed up the flub with a quote about how this actually helps writers:
Yeah not exactly convincing…
Without an agreement, US scripted TV and movie production will have to shut down.
Ironically, the companies that are most likely to weather the storm are streaming services like Netflix and Disney+, because they’ve got their whole arsenal of content to live off of…
We’ll be keeping an eye on this one 👀
POLL OF THE WEEK
PREDICTIONS: WILL PROTESTERS GET THEIR WAY?
What’s the word on the street - do we think actors and writers will get what they’re asking for?
Sound off 👇🏽
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BITE SIZED HEADLINES
After all the kerfuffle, it turns out engagement on Threads is declining: daily active users dropped 20% this week while time spent on the platform fell 50% from 20 minutes to 10 minutes. Not pictured: Elon, loving life.
Speaking of Elon, he’s starting an AI company called xAI. The website says it’s goal is to “understand the true nature of the universe.” Whatever that means..
Apparently the NBA is coming to the Apple Vision Pro: courtside tickets await, friends!
Satya’s getting friendly with everyone: he and Zuck posted a cute IG pic after they announced Meta and Microsoft's partnership to release an open source LLM called Llama 2. This allows developers using Azure to build with it, and gives Meta free R&D on their model.
Our now weekly update on the whole Reddit fiasco: Reddit’s CEO did an interview this week and the TLDR is “we ain’t reversing the API pricing changes, and we don’t feel that bad for the tools that have had to shut down, ‘cause they’ve already made millions.”
Get some ice ready, cause the tea is comin’ in hot: apparently some Google employee leaked the salaries of 12K employees and the median employee makes almost $280K a year.Sheeeeesh.
OUR FAVORITE FINDS
Remember sitting in the back of class wondering why you’d ever need to know how to calculate the area of a hexagon or who led the Battle of Hastings? Yeah, turns out there’s actually an insightful answer to this. Our kids are boutta drop some Pythagorean Theorem at our next dinner party.
Reforge released library of lessons and insights from established founders and operators. They’re actual docs and presentations execs have used in successful companies. Ya gotta sign up, but it looks pretty useful actually.
But think about how many it produces
— mark normand (@marknorm)
Nov 8, 2022
Apple acquired Siri more than 13 years ago and so far as I can tell stopped working on it that day
— Austen Allred (@Austen)
Jun 16, 2023
That's all we got for ya this week, folks. See ya next Thursday!
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