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SAG-AFTRA strike, celebrities auction themselves off for charity

From Lena Dunham to Natasha Lyonne, here's what they do and how much it costs

SAG-AFTRA strike, celebrities auction themselves off for charity From Lena Dunham to Natasha Lyonne, here's what they do and how much it costs

When we hear of Hollywood actors on strike, our first superficial instinct may be to snort sceptically. But how can that be, with their perfect lives, their glittering dresses and their million-dollar belts? The reality, however, is much more complex.

A broad strike

More than 160,000 people are gathered under the umbrella of the writers' union (the WGA) and the US actors' union (the SAG-AFTRA). These include not only the successful characters we see every day on television (or better yet, streaming), but also many workers in the entertainment industry who are trying to break through, and who struggle every day with the contracts proposed by the big studios on a wide range of issues, from the use of their AI-generated features to compensation in the form of percentage shares of revenue on streaming and non-streaming platforms (called residuals) and rights of use.

The practical problems

The strike has been going on since June and has no intention of stopping (in fact, it looks like it'll soon include voice actors and the video game world). It bans any kind of publicity for projects that have already been completed and stops all productions in progress. Only the studios that have agreed to meet the conditions set by the unions have been given an agreement to continue. But time passes, and many people have been out of work for months, and so many films and TV series slip forward.

Stars auction themselves off

So the aforementioned stars, the rich and famous, have decided to auction off activities to do with them. The purpose? To cover the medical expenses of union members. A few examples? For $6,100, Natasha Lyonne can help someone solve the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle. For $5,100 Lena Dunham paints a mural on the wall of the lucky buyer's house. Adam Scott, star of The Good Place and Severance, promises to walk the dog of whoever pays $2,500 (but only for an hour and only in Los Angeles). And finally, Bob Odenkirk and David Cross come to anyone with $10,000 and a dream to talk to them over a glass of wine for dinner.

Not only activities, but also memorabilia and talks

Items to be auctioned off for charity include signed merchandise and items taken directly from the sets of the most popular series, such as the already iconic cooking apron from The Bear, and the chance to talk writing, art and acting with Dan Levy, Spike Jonze and Barry Jenkins.

SAG-AFTRA strike, charity becomes a meme

This, of course, amused users, and soon real screens posted on eBay were joined by ironic ones inspired by old interviews, gossip and famous films. Among the funniest were Toni Collette reenacting her role in Hereditary and yelling at you over dinner for $10,000, a Mitski listening session with Paul Mescal for $1,225 and Chris Pine revealing what exactly happened on the set of Don't Worry Darling, but only after a transfer of $604. We'll think about it.