SAG-AFTRA has announced HBO has moved into compliance with union rules — following allegations that the premium cabler’s upcoming “Westworld” violated those regulations by requiring extras to be nude and participate in “graphic sexual situations.”
A SAG-AFTRA spokesperson issued the statement Wednesday afternoon after HBO announced it was rectifying the document signed by background actors.
“SAG-AFTRA sent the consent form to HBO yesterday afternoon and requested that the document be changed to more accurately reflect the contractual provisions,” the statement said. “HBO had every opportunity to rectify this situation and it was only after their direct refusal to remedy this that we posted the notice on our website. The union is very pleased to hear that HBO is doing the right thing now but it is disappointing that we had to take such public measures to ensure compliance with our contracts and protect our background actors.”
Neither side has disclosed the specific provisions that HBO violated in the earlier consent form.
In an extraordinary move, SAG-AFTRA had notified members late Tuesday that they could withdraw from the sexual scenes; the document had previously disclosed that they could possibly “perform genital-to-genital touching.”
The union also asserted in the member alert that the set must be closed to anyone not having business with the production and that no still photography be authorized without the consent of the background actor. It also said it would have a representative on the set.
HBO’s statement on Wednesday — issued nearly 15 hours after SAG-AFTRA’s notice to members — said it was revising the document, asserting that Central Casting had gone rogue and created the imbroglio on its own.
“The document that the background actors were given was created by an outside extras casting vendor,” HBO said. “It was not requested, written or approved by HBO, Warner Bros. Television, or the producers, and contains situations that we do not require of any actor. We are rectifying immediately the discrepancies in this vendor’s document with our actual on-set practices, which provide a professional and comfortable working environment for all performers.”
However, HBO refused to supply the specific provisions of its revised document to Variety. Central Casting, which is owned by Entertainment Partners, refused to comment.
HBO’s one-hour drama, inspired by the 1973 film of the same name, is touted on its web site as “a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin.” The series, set to air in February, stars Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden and Thandie Newton.
Jonathan Nolan serves as executive producer/writer/director and Lisa Joy is executive producer/writer. Executive producers are J.J. Abrams, Jerry Weintraub, and Bryan Burk. The series is produced by Bad Robot Productions, Jerry Weintraub Productions and Kilter Films in association with Warner Bros. Television.
“Westworld” is also in line to receive a $12 million tax credit from the California Film Commission.