A writer on Hulu’s hit show “The Bear” who “lived below the poverty line” while working on the show slammed Disney CEO Bob Iger for saying that writers and actors participating in Hollywood’s “damaging” mega-strike have “unrealistic” expectations.
Alex O’Keefe, who was a staff writer on “The Bear,” told The Post that he made a salary of $43,000 for his work on the show.
And although “The Bear” is an original FX series, because it’s streamed on Hulu and Disney+ rather than on a TV network, behind-the-scenes workers like O’Keefe don’t receive any additional paychecks once the show is out, he explained.
“That’s a huge injustice,” he told The Post. “As a staff writer, you’re writing and revising for everyone but there’s no residuals on Hulu [or Disney+] because it’s streaming.”
He cited the grievance as a reason to strike. “We need to come together and co-determine the future of our industry, but what they’re [studio executives] are saying is ‘get the hell out of our office.’”
Iger warned last week while at Sun Valley’s Allen & Co. annual conference — also known as “summer camp for billionaires” — that the movement is disastrous.
“This is the worst time in the world to add to that disruption,” the Mouse House boss said, adding that the walkout could have a “very damaging effect on the whole industry.”
In response, O’Keefe told The Post that “strikes are supposed to be distruptions.”
He continued: “Capitalists love disruptions when it makes them money. Netflix and Disney+ were disruptions to the market.”
O’Keefe also responded to unnamed sources who called the ongoing strike “a cruel but necessary evil” when speaking to Deadline last week.
Another anonymous top-tier producer told the outlet that they will “allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses.”
The bigwigs believe that by October, most writers will be running out of money after five months on the picket lines and no work, Deadline reported.
By that time, studios and streamers believe they’ll be able to close the deal they want as cash-strapped workers will be desperate to begin getting paychecks again.
“They publicly say it’s a necessary evil. They publicly say they are evil, so what do you think they say privately at the bargaining table?” O’Keefe questioned. “It’s sick, vile and disgusting.”
O’Keefe then called on the Department of Labor to investigate the claims as union busting. “That’s not legal, that’s why they didn’t put their name on it,” he said of the anonymous claims.
O’Keefe grew exasperated as he told The Post that he wants the strike “to end now.”
“I want to get back to work. I would like it [the strike] to end this week,” he said, adding that it’s unlikely because studios and producers’ “strategy is to make me homeless.”
“Bob Iger is making a salary. I am not,” O’Keefe said, noting that he’s looking into low-paying jobs at local grocery stores to make ends meet until the strike concludes.
Iger, 72, is a member of the ATMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) — which represents streamers like Disney, Netflix and Amazon, among others — and rakes in an annual salary of about $27 million, according to Fortune.
On Wednesday, it was revealed that Walt Disney’s board extended the chief executive’s contract through the end of 2026.
The strike kicked off on May 2 when ATMPTP denied Writers Guild of America (WGA) workers higher-paying contracts that better protect workers in the entertainment industry from changes brought on by streaming and emerging tech.
On Thursday, the strike grew immensely when 160,000 actors represented by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (SAG-AFTRA) unanimously voted to stop working after their contract expired and talks broke off with the AMPTP.
Iger has said the “there’s a level of expectation that (SAG-AFTRA and the WGA) have that is just not realistic.”
SAG-AFTRA leaders issued a press release on Monday proposing that performers get an 11% general wage increase “to simply keep up with inflation.”
They also asked for “protection of our images and performances to prevent replacement of human performances by artificial intelligence technology,” as well as hair and makeup professionals that were qualified to “effectively style a variety of hair textures/styles and skin tones.”
SAG-AFTRA also asked that its workers receive “compensation to reflect the value we bring to the streamers who profit from our labor,” among other requests related to healthcare, retirement and relocation support.