American Federation of Musicians and HBO Settle Dispute Over ‘The Gilded Age’

Labor News, Industry News

Reprinted from Deadline Hollywood by David Robb on May 24, 2021.

HBO and the American Federation of Musicians have reached a settlement of their dispute over the employment of musicians on miniseries The Gilded Age. The union filed an unfair labor practices complaint against the premium cabler on Friday, claiming that 23 musicians on the 10-part series were fired after they asked to be represented by the union.

“We have a tentative agreement,” said AFM president Ray Hair.

HBO said that “after careful consideration of our valued relationships with our union partners and the community of musicians and performers, we have reached an agreement with the American Federation of Musicians on The Gilded Age production to cover their members on an AFM basis.” Previously, HBO had noted that the series “is a multi-union production” and that for scenes filming in Troy, NY, “local background actors were cast to mimic a musical performance. The actors were offered pay over union scale. No one has been fired. We will continue to engage with all parties involved to work towards a resolution.”

The union said that 23 musicians had been hired to “sideline” on the period drama, meaning that they would be miming the playing of their instruments on camera, not actually playing them. The union’s contract provides that when two or more musicians are hired to “sideline,” they’ll each be paid a minimum of $242 a day, plus pension and health contributions. …

Deadline Hollywood 5/24

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Jeff Burman served on the Guild’s Board of Directors from 1992 to 2019. He is now retired. He can be reached at