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Strikes spread beyond entertainment industry

Updated: 2023-08-31 09:11

Shon LeBlanc, co-owner of costume rental service Valentino's Costume Group, poses for a portrait among racks of themed clothing at his store in Los Angeles on May 26. CHRIS PIZZELLO/AP

LOS ANGELES — Valentino's Costume Group had struggled for years, tossed around by pandemic-induced production shutdowns that began in March 2020. Last year, though, business had finally picked back up.

Hoping to capitalize on that good fortune, the shop moved in January to a North Hollywood space twice the size of its old building. Then, Hollywood's screenwriters and actors went on strike. Now, co-owner Shon LeBlanc said Valentino's can no longer afford to pay its rent.

"My chest is tightening because the money is so tight," said LeBlanc, bemoaning the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers' apparent lack of urgency in trying to reach an agreement with the unions. "When is the mayor going to step in and say, 'I'm ordering you guys to figure something out because you're about to collapse the economy in Los Angeles?'"

It has been well over 100 days since members of the Writers Guild of America stopped working, and more than a month since the actors' union joined them. LeBlanc's is just one story of many detailing the financial ripple effects.

Few corners of the entertainment industry have been left unscathed.

From studio rentals and set construction to dry cleaning for costumes and transportation to sets, it's hard to find a corner of the Los Angeles economy that has escaped the reverberations.

"A movie set in one day can generate tens of thousands of dollars," said Kevin Klowden, chief global strategist with the Milken Institute, a think tank that researches social and economic issues. "Depending on the level of activity, it can be hundreds of thousands of dollars."

The cast of Breaking Bad has reunited to call upon Hollywood studios to resume negotiations with striking screen actors.

"We want you to come back to the table with us," said Bryan Cranston who was mainly known for portraying Walter White, also known by his alias Heisenberg, in a plea to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers outside Sony Pictures Studios on Tuesday.

Cranston was joined by Aaron Paul, Jesse Plemons and other members of the Breaking Bad team in an effort to energize picket lines more than a month after the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, or SAG-AFTRA, joined the striking Hollywood writers.

Agencies via Xinhua

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