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Fran Drescher responds to criticism about her Italy trip and pic with Kim Kardashian days before SAG strike

By Alli Rosenbloom, CNN

(CNN) — Fran Drescher, the president of the SAG-AFTRA union, responded to criticism on Thursday for traveling to Italy to attend Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Moda festivities this past weekend as her 160,000-member actors’ union faced a deadline to go on strike.

At a press conference that day – during which Drescher officially announced that the union will go on strike after talks with the Hollywood’s major studios and streamers failed – she was asked about the “optics” of being seen taking a “selfie” with Kim Kardashian at the event in Italy.

“That wasn’t a selfie,” Drescher said, later adding “I’m a brand ambassador for a fashion company and so is Kim. I had only met Kim seconds before that publicity picture was taken.”

She added that “it had nothing to do with being at a party having fun – it was absolute work.”

The “Nanny” star said she left the event at 10:30 at night to go to her hotel room and meet with union negotiators on Zoom, adding that she “worked around the clock in three different time zones.”

“And if I couldn’t get through to them because I was on a plane, I was texting with them constantly throughout the plane ride,” Drescher said, adding that she had also traveled to Florida to care for her parents – and worked while there, too.

The photo of Drescher with Kardashian prompted criticism from a number of SAG-AFTRA members, as well as members of the Writer Guild of America, which is already on strike against the studios and streaming services.

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, co-chair of SAG-AFTRA, chimed in to defend Drescher on Thursday, saying “Fran was working, which is what our members do,” and that “she was zooming in to our negotiations after work hours, working 18 hours or more a day.”

SAG-AFTRA’s talks with the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers (AMPTP), the entity representing the studios and streamers, focused on pay scales and benefits, progress on residuals paid for when films or shows are shown again, particularly on streaming services, as well as protections on the use of artificial intelligence to create characters using actors’ voices or likenesses.

At Thursday’s news conference, Drescher said the union would not accept changes to their contract that do not match up with the changes happening in the industry.

“We’re not going to keep doing incremental changes on a contract that no longer honors what is happening right now with this business model that was foisted upon us,” she said, going on to ask, “What are we doing? Moving around furniture on the Titanic? It’s crazy.”

The SAG-AFTRA strike is set to go into effect at midnight PT Thursday night.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Chris Isidore contributed to this report.

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