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July 18, 2023

'The Always Sunny Podcast' put on hold amid actors, writers strikes

The Gang is scheduled for a live taping in Philly in September, but the labor movement in show business could put that in jeopardy

Podcasts Strikes
Always Sunny podcast The Always Sunny Podcast/YouTube

The SAG-AFTRA strike prevents actors from appearing on podcasts to promote their shows. That means 'The Always Sunny Podcast' could be on hiatus until a resolution to the strike is reached.

Fans of "The Always Sunny Podcast" will have to get their fix of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" banter elsewhere for the foreseeable future.

In the midst of the growing strike among writers and actors, The Gang announced that the podcast has been put on hold.

"We hope to be back with new episodes soon. Thanks for understanding. You are 5-star fans!" said a message on the podcast's Instagram.

Last Thursday, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, a union representing 160,000 actors, program hosts and other media professionals, unanimously voted to strike in search of a better deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents studios, streamers and production companies. SAG-AFTRA joined the Writers Guild of America, the entertainment and news writers' union, in their strike that began in early May.

The SAG-AFTRA strike specifically bans Hollywood actors from appearing on podcasts to promote their work until a resolution is reached.

The pause on the podcast puts a few anticipated events in question. Last month, The Gang announced that they would come to Philly for a live taping of the podcast at the Mann Center on Sept. 23. Another event is scheduled for Oct. 12 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Series creator and star Rob McElhenney, 46, revealed earlier this month that he was recently diagnosed with a multiple neurodevelopmental disorders and learning disabilities. He planned to talk about this on a podcast episode that was supposed to drop next week.

"It’s not something I would normally talk about publicly but I figured there are others who struggle with similar things and I wanted to remind you that you’re not alone," McElhenney tweeted. "You’re not stupid. You’re not 'bad.' It might feel that way sometimes. But it’s not true."

If the strike isn't resolved by the end of the summer, the podcast appearances may be canceled or rescheduled. And it's unclear whether McElhenney will discuss his recent diagnoses on another forum in the meantime. Actors who are in the union are not allowed to do interviews to discuss their work. 

Topics in McElhenney's personal life are not covered by that, but he may choose to wait until restrictions are softened. The Writers Guild of America initially enforced the same rule but later changed its stance.

Both writers and actors are pushing for better compensation to account for the entertainment industry's shift toward streaming, which has whittled away at residuals earned under traditional media distribution. Actors also have voiced demands about limiting studios' use of artificial intelligence to create their likenesses, which is viewed as an existential threat in the absence of clear rules and compensation. Both unions want to negotiate better base compensation to account for changes in the way shows are made.

Actors and writers picketing in Los Angeles and New York have signaled that they anticipate they could be in for a long battle to reach a new deal. The longest previous writers strike in 1988 lasted five months, and a more recent strike in 2007-2008 lasted three months. The most recent actors strike in 1980 lasted three months.

"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" is currently wrapping up its 16th Season on FXX. The weekly podcast, which offers interviews and behind-the-scenes insights about the show, aired its 77th episode last week.