In the discussion of the potential work stoppage waiting to cripple Hollywood upon the rapidly approaching expiration of several union contracts, it's all too easy to become consumed with talk of multiplatform residuals, de facto strikes, and script stockpiling, impersonal matters that distract from the human cost of the looming labor Armageddon. A piece in today's NY Times on the strike-induced scheduling crush affecting the industry's most coveted talent finally puts a face—a stubbornly still-cherubic, relatable, and franchise-supporting face—on the issues:
"We're trying to do in six months what we usually do in 12," said Patrick Whitesell, a partner with the Endeavor agency, which represents Mr. Sandler and others caught up in the chase. [...]
In one go-round, Paul Greengrass, finished with this August's "Bourne Ultimatum," with Matt Damon, a client of Mr. Whitesell's, has been trying to round up that star to shoot "Imperial Life in the Emerald City" for Universal and Working Title Films. But Mr. Damon is also looking at "The Informant," a conspiracy thriller to be directed by Steven Soderbergh for Warner Brothers.
If Mr. Damon commits to both, and everything falls into place with the studios, that would mean a long delay for "The Fighter," a Paramount boxing film that is being lined up as a possible project for him with the director Darren Aronofsky. For that one, however, Mr. Damon would have to contend with weight fluctuations that would be difficult to control on a tight schedule.
If dwelling upon the heartbreaking possibility that the universally beloved actor's metabolism will become a pawn in the chess match between the unions and the studios isn't enough to move you, consider this: Should Damon's ability to earn become impaired by a lengthy work stoppage, he'll likely have to cease the monthly assistance payments he's been generously giving to childhood friend Ben Affleck, who hasn't worked steadily since 2004. Only the blackest of Hollywood souls can remain unaffected by the thought of a lifelong bond broken by the cruel realities of this business.