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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s £80 million Netflix agreement and projects are in disarray

According to a source close to the pair, production on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s next Netflix projects has been “tough” as a result of the Hollywood writers’ strike.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex inked an £80 million contract with the network in 2020, not long after they retired as working royals. The first production to come out of that arrangement was the six-part documentary series “Harry and Meghan,” which was published last December.

They launched their second Netflix production, “Live to Lead,” which was about prominent figures who have campaigned for social justice, three weeks later on New Year’s Eve.

Now, the couple are said to be in talks to front a third Netflix documentary about humanitarian issues in South Africa which will see them meeting local communities.

But a source close to the Sussexes told The Daily Telegraph that it was ‘tough’ to move forward with any Netflix projects because of the ongoing US writers’ strike.

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Hilary Duff, Bob Odenkirk and Kevin Bacon are among the stars who have joined fellow actors on the picket lines amid the largest industry strike for 60 years.

Strike action took place yesterday outside major studios in Los Angeles, including Netflix, Warner Bros, Disney and Paramount, but two were cut short due to the heat.

Action began on Friday after contract negotiations between actors’ union Sag-Aftra (Screen Actor’s Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) broke down.

Approximately 160,000 actors are now on strike across the US, joining the 11,500 members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA), who walked out on May 2.

It is the first time both unions have been on strike since 1960, when Sag-Aftra was led by former US president Ronald Reagan.

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Now, the ongoing strike is also impacting plans for Harry and Meghan’s next Netflix documentary which is set to see them visit South Africa – with the action meaning they cannot yet move forward with production.

No official announcement has been made on what the new programme will be about, but the Sunday Mirror reported last month that the couple could be shown helping to build houses in villages they visit.

A source told the newspaper that cameras will follow the Sussexes ‘as they visit compounds and share medical education’, with production set to be a combined project from Netflix and the couple’s Archewell Foundation.

The source added: ‘Meghan is particularly keen to share information about giving birth safely with the women she meets.’

However a report in Page Six claimed that it could be a solo production for Harry, following in the footsteps of his mother Princess Diana who also went to Africa to raise awareness of landmines.

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And it would come after Harry and Meghan went on a royal tour to South Africa in 2019 when they were still working royals, which saw them meet community members in townships around Cape Town while travelling with Archie.

While production of the new show is being planned, it has also emerged that the couple’s series ‘Harry and Meghan’ has been nominated for a Hollywood award.

The show saw them hand over a trove of pictures and video from their relationship including the moment Harry proposed.

The first three episodes contained a series of swipes at the royals, including Harry’s claim that he was ‘literally brought up’ by a ‘second family’ in Africa where he chose to spend three-month stints in his late teens and twenties as he came to terms with his mother’s death.

It also claimed that the UK is more obsessed with race than the US, with Meghan declaring that she ‘wasn’t really treated like a black woman’ until she came here.

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‘Harry and Meghan’, directed by Liz Garbus, has been nominated for a Hollywood Critics Award in the best streaming non-fiction category.

It is up against Prehistoric Planet 2; Rainn Wilson and the Geography of Bliss; Rennervations; The 1619 Project and The Reluctant Traveller with Eugene Levy.

The nomination comes after Harry and Meghan’s £18million Spotify deal ended early, although the couple also still have the Duke’s £29million four-book deal.

Meanwhile the Hollywood strike is still ongoing, meaning actors will not film new projects or promote their films at junkets, premieres, awards shows or conventions, including the 2023 San Diego Comic Con, which is due to begin on Thursday.

On Saturday the global premiere of new Disney film Haunted Mansion went ahead at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, but without stars Owen Wilson, Jamie Lee Curtis and Tiffany Haddish.

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The cast of Christopher Nolan’s new movie Oppenheimer walked out of the London premiere last week as news of the impending strike broke, and planned junkets for films including Barbie have also been affected.

Producers of independent films could be granted waivers to continue shooting despite the strike, as long as they are operating outside the studio system.

Marvel star Mark Ruffalo was among the high-profile actors to voice support for such waivers, and possible sharing of profits from successful independent films.

The contract between the union and the AMPTP, which represents the major film studios, TV networks and streaming giants, expired after negotiators failed to reach an agreement over a number of issues including pay and the use of artificial intelligence (AI).

The union said actors face an ‘existential threat to their livelihoods’ with the rise of generative AI technology and the threat of unregulated use.

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Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, chief negotiator for Sag-Aftra, said studios had asked for the ability to scan the faces of background artists for the payment of one day’s work, and then be able to own and use their likeness for any future projects without consent or compensation.

The issue of pay has also been a key part of negotiations as the advent of streaming has changed the way actors are compensated for their work.

In the past they would make money from residuals, where they would be paid based on re-runs of their shows and films, but streaming has severely dented this, with actors and writers saying their residuals have plummeted.

The union says members are striking for a fairer division of profits, but the AMPTP says negotiators chose to forego ‘the highest percentage increase in minimums in 35 years’ in favour of going on strike.

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