SAG-AFTRA president defends fashion show trip to Italy as contract deadline looms

Fran Drescher   takes part in a panel discussion on Jan.11, 2020, in Pasadena, Calif.
SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher, shown in 2020.
(Chris Pizzello / Invision / Associated Press)

As SAG-AFTRA negotiators worked over the weekend with their studio counterparts to craft a deal that would avert another Hollywood strike, the union’s president was thousands of miles away attending a fashion show in Italy.

On Sunday, Kim Kardashian posted a photo of herself with “The Nanny” star Fran Drescher in Puglia, Italy, where the two were attending the Dolce & Gabbana fashion show.

Hollywood is once again in the midst of a historic labor battle in which studios are facing a possible strike on two fronts in a protracted fight over new forms of distribution.

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In a caption beneath a photo posted to Instagram, the reality TV star wrote: “My Fashion Icon! Always on my mood board! i seriously love this woman! The oh so gorgeous @officialfrandrescher.”

The photo raised eyebrows among some union members who wondered why Drescher — who is the president and chair of SAG-AFTRA’s negotiating committee — was in Italy while her colleagues were in down-to-the-wire bargaining sessions with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.


SAG-AFTRA members have authorized their leaders to call a strike if they can’t reach a deal by Wednesday night.

“Negotiating our possible strike from Italy seems like a strange strategy,” tweeted “Narcos: Mexico” actor Lenny Jacobson, posting the photo that Kardashian had shared with her 362 million followers.

“Pointing out what a bad look it is to attend a glitzy function before the potential strike is exactly what the AMPTP wants us to do,” C. Robert Cargill, writer of the Marvel movie “Dr. Strange,” wrote on Twitter.

In response to requests for comment, SAG-AFTRA said Drescher was working as a brand ambassador for Dolce & Gabbana on location in Italy and her commitment was fully known to the negotiating committee. Other actors also were in attendance at the event, including Kerry Washington and Angela Bassett.

“She has been in negotiations every day either in person or via videoconference,” the union said in a statement. “President Drescher is managing a physically demanding schedule across three time zones, overseeing negotiations and working on location daily as well as managing her parents’ needs in FL. She is returning to the states and will be on the ground in LA tomorrow, and will continue to chair our negotiations.”

Contract talks between SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have been ongoing since June 7. The union’s contract expired last month but was extended to July 12 to allow more time for bargaining.


SAG-AFTRA has approved a deal from the studios to end its historic strike. The actors were on strike for more than 100 days.

Nov. 10, 2023

Despite progress, the sides have been far apart on key issues, including demands over how payments from streaming shows are calculated.

Without an agreement over pay and working conditions, the union may go on strike for the first time against the studios since 1980.

Drescher recently received blowback from union members over a videotaped message in which she presented an upbeat message about the talks, saying they were having “extremely productive negotiations.”

Hundreds of actors, including a number of A-listers, sent a letter demanding that she and other union leaders fight for a “transformative deal” on behalf of the guild’s 160,000 members.

“This is not a moment to meet in the middle,” they wrote.

If Hollywood studios and SAG-AFTRA cannot reach a deal by Friday night, actors may strike over their main film and TV contract for the first time since 1980. Here are the main reasons why.

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