John Cusack calls AI a ‘criminal enterprise,’ slams studio greed amid strike
“That’s what AI is — a criminal enterprise,” the actor tweeted in support of the SAG-AFTRA strike.
Author Maureen Lee Lenker
In the wake of the SAG-AFTRA strike, the actor shared a series of tweets slamming the studios and the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers (AMPTP) for their greed and their contract offers on issues regarding AI.
Re-sharing the video of union president Fran Drescher’s speech, he told a story of how, despite its success and cult status, he wasn’t properly compensated for Say Anything, the film that helped make him a star.
“The greed is almost a legendary comic trope,” he wrote. “One fun fact – when I was a youngin- I did a film (with a boom box ) and somehow I got points – net not gross. Never expected to see any money – but the film became quite famous – so about 10 years ago – I looked again at the financial statements they were obligated to report – and to my shock – they claimed they had LOST 44 million dollars on the film.”
“I thought wow, I almost bankrupted Fox! (not really),” he continued. “The film cost about 13 million to make – and money spent to release was minimal at the time – 30 years in – that film lost millions every year! A neat accounting trick don’t ya think?”
In another tweet, he condemned the AMPTP’s reported terms on the use of AI as it pertains to background actors. On Thursday, National Executive Director & Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland detailed in a press conference that the AMPTP reportedly wanted the right to scan the likeness of background actors, pay them for one day of work, and own the rights to their image in perpetuity.
“Studios wanna have extras work one day, scan them – own their likeness forever – and eliminate them from the business,” Cusack wrote. “And do you think they will stop with extras? That’s what AI is – a giant Copywrite identity theft – criminal Enterprise. ‘We had no idea this would happen!’ they will say in 10 years when the scope and scale of the plunder is revealed. Of course they did – it’s the business model. The algorithms serve the profit motive – AI savage capitalism. Blame it on the algorithms you create to make more money. That’s not a labor deal – it’s a labor fatwa.”
| Credit: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images
Cusack also shared a story of someone close to him (many on Twitter have surmised that it’s likely his sister Joan Cusack and is in reference to her time on Showtime’s Shameless) who appeared on a hit cable show and received terrible pay and hostility from studio execs.
“I know someone – very close to me actually – that was on a hit cable show – ran seven years – ( it could still be going),” he wrote. “She was paid I/7th of the male lead – she was nominated for multiple Emmy’s and won – ( nominated for at least 3 recall). No other person behind or in front of camera was ever nominated, The rich ass studio rolling in money – would NOT give her a raise – after underpaying her horribly.”
“And made her take cable guest star money – which was not 4 thousand a week in cable,” he continued. “But still viciously underpaid her for a long running show – whose performance was nominated for multiple Emmy’s – as she was everyone’s favorite character – and clearly the most popular character on the show. It was so mean she just hated the gaslighting a–hole execs – and wants out of the business – as the treatment is so toxic. Why did they do it? Because they could get away with it.”
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