IATSE, studios reach tentative labor deal; A.I.-generated Al Michaels comes to Olympics

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IATSE, the union representing Hollywood crew members, struck a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Is the deal a harbinger of a long-awaited revival in TV and film production? Plus, NBC is bringing an A.I. version of legendary sports broadcaster Al Michaels to Peacock for recaps of the Paris Olympics. Will the big bet pay off? Kim Masters and Matt Belloni weigh in.

What’s the deal? Details are scarce, but IATSE says the agreement includes wage increases of 7%, 4%, and 3.5% over the three-year contract period, and bumps pay when a workday exceeds 15 hours. “This is a deal that many people hope will signal the ramping up of production again,” says Masters of the slumbering TV and film business. “It seems like nothing is being ordered and some people believe they were waiting for IATSE to make a deal.”

What about artificial intelligence? “That's the big question mark here,” says Belloni. The tentative deal says “no employee is required to provide AI prompts in any manner that would result in the displacement of any covered employee,” according to the union. What exactly that means remains to be seen. “I think we're gonna get a lot more clarification in the next days and weeks over what that means,” says Belloni. “There’s a membership meeting in the middle of July where they will presumably explain this a little more.”

Al Michaels does what? Meanwhile, NBCUniversal says it’s bringing the AI-generated voice of legendary sports broadcaster Al Michaels to Peacock for personalized recaps of the Paris Olympics. “This is being done with the full participation and endorsement of Al Michaels,” who was “initially skeptical about the technology,” says Belloni. “This is the model going forward – for big, known voices and names [to] exploit this and make money while enabling this technology.”

Will NBC’s big bet pay off? NBC has bet heavily on the Olympics to drive streamers to Peacock – and not always successfully. “In the 2020 Olympics, which took place in 2021, you didn't really see that much of a bump for Peacock, and NBC has really vowed to change that.” The network is also bringing in new commentators. “They're sending Colin Jost from SNL to Tahiti to cover surfing,” says Belloni. “When’s The Business going to do an episode in Tahiti?”




Kim Masters


Robin Estrin