When it comes to life’s most difficult negotiations, sometimes you need a squishy friend by your side.
That’s SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher’s policy for the contentious ongoing contract talks her union is embroiled in with Hollywood’s major film and TV studios. “The Nanny” star has come to the table for weeks armed with a heart-shaped stuffed animal that serves as either an emotional support tool or a bargaining tactic, depending on who you ask.
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Stories about Drescher’s doll have been a hot topic around Hollywood for weeks. One spy told us that Drescher had been carrying around a Furby — the furry doll that inspired a craze in the ‘00s from toymaker Hasbro — even planting it in front of studio heads at the negotiating table and saying, “My Furby is watching you.”
But according to several other sources, Drescher’s special guest was actually a heart-shaped plush with dangling feet that apparently was manufactured by Jellycat, a niche toy brand that caters to toddlers in high-end department stores.
“SAG-AFTRA declines to comment due to our ongoing negotiations and our deep focus on bargaining in good faith to secure a fair deal for SAG-AFTRA members,” a spokesperson for the guild said. The union also announced on Thursday that it would hold a picketing event on Friday at Amazon Studios, themed as “Plushie day in solidarity with Fran.” Striking actors are encouraged to “bring your heart-shaped plushies and stand with Fran!”
The toy was given to Drescher by a fan, she told the Los Angeles Times last week. It retails for as little as $15 and is described as “snuggly soft in cream fur with a sweety stitchy smile and silver sparkly legs.” Owners are encouraged to “pop this little heart in your pocket to take a little love wherever you go.”
Drescher spoke about the doll on X Wednesday, as social media posts questioned such an unusual tactic. “I don’t have [to] emulate a masculine energy [to be] a good leader,” Drescher said in defending the doll. “I can be smart, have a keen ability [to see] integral flaws in a business model AND put a tiny heart shaped plush toy between me and Bob Iger.”
While unconventional for such a bitter contract process, the toy managed to capture the attention of C-suite executives attempting to iron out a new deal with Drescher and SAG-AFTRA lead negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. Sources say the executives had no idea what to make of the doll or its backstory. What did the doll know? And does it hold the key to ending what’s become the longest actors strike in Hollywood history?
Jellycat did not respond to a request for a comment. Exposure to some of the biggest decision makers in Hollywood isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a toy line — Squishmallows signed with CAA last year to explore scripted adaptations — but given the tension between SAG-AFTRA and the studios, it’s safe to say no one will be running to get a Jellycat movie off the ground.
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