Amidst the 8-day-old Hollywood actors’ strike, many actors are unsure as to whether to continue creating and publishing podcast content. The answer is unclear as this adjacent industry simply didn’t exist during the union’s last work stoppage 43 years ago, creating new ground for new rules.

The official targets of the strike are film and television productions associated with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, a group that includes all of the major Hollywood studios and streamers like Netflix, Amazon and Apple (with both Amazon and Apple being mega podcast distributors). 

While neither Audible nor Wondery is directly affiliated with the film and TV alliance, their connection to Amazon may put the actors they work with in an uncomfortable position. Representatives for Bateman, Arnett, Hayes, Long and Palmer didn’t respond to requests for comment. Greenwalt, of SAG-AFTRA, said podcasts produced by members of the film and TV alliance are not necessarily in violation and that actors with questions should consult with the union.

At the end of the day, messaging from the actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA, bars promotion of past or future work for the studios and podcasting is a form of promo if discussing the promoted product at hand. Naturally, this has left some members unsure of whether their podcasts are in violation of union policy.

As for now, podcasting sits in a grey area with some that recap the TV shows “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “One Tree Hill” and “Bones,” for example, being cancelled, and others, including ones about “Will & Grace,” “Gilmore Girls,” “New Girl” and “Beverly Hills, 90210” — continued as scheduled. In an episode of the “One Tree Hill” rewatch podcast “Drama Queens” that aired on Monday, the actors Sophia Bush, Hilarie Burton Morgan and Bethany Joy Lenz expressed uncertainty about whether their show could continue in its usual format and answered listener questions instead.

“Because our show currently is still streaming — even though we filmed it 20 years ago — is doing a rewatch pod considered promotion?” Burton Morgan asked, noting that she and the others awaited “a clear answer” from the union. Bush said later that “nobody really knows” what the guidelines allow.

One piece of clarity we do have comes from Pamela Greenwalt, a spokeswoman for SAG-AFTRA, who said in a phone call on Friday that although the actors’ union considers rewatch podcasts promotional, actors under contract to produce such shows will not be considered in breach for continuing them.

In the meantime, actors are free to appear as guests on celebrity interview podcasts as long as they don’t “promote struck work” while doing so, according to union guidelines. But, in practice, asking a performer not to talk about their work may prove awkward for everyone involved.

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