Showbizreporting's Blog

June 2, 2009

A MESSAGE FROM A SAG MEMBER (January 18th, 2009)

Filed under: Entertainment — showbizreporting @ 1:21 am

I have, to imperfect success, stuck to the issues and stayed off of the personalities in my writings.  Given the events of the past week, it is not only easy, but justifiable to turn our attention from contract issues to the personalities of MFs.  Having spent time with them in the trenches of the Board room, I feel particularly qualified to wax ugly.  Instead, I am thinking about our personalities.  The emails I receive from members give me perspective I would not otherwise have.  Recently, some have given me pause.  In the seemingly endless tug of war among ourselves within our Guild, many members have expressed outright hatred of the MFs.  (Do you think they realized when they named themselves Membership First what a favor they did us?  Who of us doesn’t relish typing those initials in CAPS.  Sometimes we call them the MFers.) 

But it goes beyond amusement at a somewhat juvenile pun. To wit: at the conclusion of the 30 hour Board meeting this week, I received an email from a member telling me that she is enjoying watching the MFs fall.  It has stuck with me all week.  It is one thing to celebrate the possibility of new leadership who will get the job done and feel immense relief that the ineffective leaders might finally be out.  But it is another thing to relish the disgracing implosion of fellow Guild members and staff.  In this and all political theaters the temptation to vilify the players and indulge in schadenfreude distracts us from the issues, does not foster the kind of sobriety of spirit that politics could well use, and finally, it says something about us.  God knows I have cursed them with the best of us.  I have shaken my fist and my head in frustrated anger at the actions of these people.  I have privately shared an occasional wicked laugh at their expense.  But I am looking at a mound of emails from the you’s and me’s of the membership – you know: the good guys… and I am struck by the overarching tone.  It does not stop at righteous indignation, nor even understandable jibing.  Some of it moves into cruel, pitiless vitriol.  Some of it echoes with overtones from them.

Let me start with the apology from Frances Fisher.   I am no pal nor fan of Frances. During my time on the board she was pointedly mean to me.    We were often on opposite sides of the isle and I learned to stay out of her way.  Last week, like most of us, I was outraged when she forwarded those vile emails suggesting we use the SAG Awards to punish certain nominees for speaking their minds.  When Frances issued a personal apology, I privately shared a laugh with a fellow member who wondered if she would have apologized had we not brought the heat down on her.  But when the laugh was through, we agreed – she did the right thing by apologizing publically and we will accept that she knows she did wrong. 

However, the majority of my email came from members claiming,  “too late… doesn’t forgive what she  did … she knew full well she should have no part in forwarding the  email… No way I am going to forgive that b*t*h”  Based on some of Frances’ past actions, it is perfectly understandable to write off this apology as nothing more than a face-saving gesture.  But I, for one, am going to accept it.  One never knows when another has had a genuine epiphany or change of heart. Current sitting Board members remind me that they have to endure Frances’ brutish ways in the meetings.  I encourage them to take every step available to stamp out abusive behavior by any fellow board member.  That said, it I know from experience that the system to discipline board members is used only when it suits the chair.   I know what goes on in that room as I spent a few years in it.  You should do everything you can to get information about what has gone on.  We must insist upon a system of accountability and consequence for our board members.

One of the single biggest reasons for the mess we are in is the lack of consequences for destructive behavior in the board room.  The things I (and so many others) endured (and continue to endure) are almost unbelievable.  I have been warned by some of my fellow members to quell the chatter about the abuse of the MFs.  I am told it turns people off.   But if we do not start paying attention to the inner workings of the board room  and insist on decorum, order, and protocol, we are going to get more of the same. 

For starters, please join me in insisting that formal charges be immediately filed against the member who was caught cheating in a vote on the floor of the board meeting.  She broke a rule, tried to manipulate a vote, should be expelled. 

I am, so help me, God, going to resist the temptation to devolve into vitriol.  I will, instead, cry foul play against board members exhibiting behavior unbecoming (that is the term for lying and cheating) and call for the censure, discipline, and expulsion based on their offense — not my feelings.

Make your voice a call for action.  Tell our Guild President, Alan Rosenberg that he failed in the chair at the meeting which he allowed to go 30 solid hours.  Is this how you want the business of our Guild to be conducted?


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