Showbizreporting's Blog

August 11, 2010

DML – Court Case

Rosenberg v. SAG Lawsuit Dismissed

Posted: 10 Aug 2010 02:08 PM PDT

The lawsuit filed 1-1/2 years ago by SAG’s then-president Alan Rosenberg against his own union has finally been formally dismissed, according to court records and a source with knowledge of the matter. The formal dismissal actually came in late July, but appears not to have previously been reported. The dismissal was expected, as the judge had ruled on the matter a month earlier.

The action ends with a whimper a suit that attempted to reinstate SAG’s previous National Executive Director, Doug Allen, and impede the ultimate achievement of the 2009 agreement between SAG and the studios and producers.

———————
Subscribe to my blog (jhandel.com) for more about entertainment law and digital media law. Check out my residuals chart there too. Go to the blog itself to subscribe via RSS or email. Or, follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, or subscribe to my Forbes.com or Huffington Post articles. If you work in tech, check out my book How to Write LOIs and Term Sheets.

November 2, 2009

Appeal Strikes Out

Variety

Rosenberg appeal strikes out
Three-judge panel upholds SAG moves
By DAVE MCNARY, Variety

Former Screen Actors Guild president Alan Rosenberg has struck out again in court in his long-running attempt to overturn moves by SAG’s national board to fire Doug Allen and abolish SAG’s negotiating committee.
A three-judge appeals court panel on Tuesday denied Rosenberg’s appeal of a February ruling by a state judge turning down Rosenberg’s request for a temporary restraining order. In a 21-page ruling, Judges Nora Manella, Steven Suzukawa and Thomas Willhite asserted the appeal had been rendered “moot” by subsequent actions of the SAG board and its members.

Rosenberg wasn’t available to comment. Duncan Crabtree Ireland, SAG’s deputy national exec director and general counsel, said in response, “The court’s decision speaks for itself, and Screen Actors Guild will have no further comment.”

Rosenberg and board members Anne-Marie Johnson, Diane Ladd and Kent McCord had filed the suit against SAG and the 41 board members, alleging that they had illegally used a “written assent” maneuver on Jan. 26 to oust Allen and the feature-primetime negotiating committee. Rosenberg had led a 28-hour filibuster at the SAG board meeting on Jan. 12-13 to block a vote to fire Allen, prompting the moderates to take the “written assent” route.

A few days after the suit was filed, the moderates fired Allen for a second time in a regular board meeting.

“We conclude that the appeal has been rendered moot by the decision of the majority of the board on Feb. 9 to ratify and readopt the provisions of the written assent and by the subsequent decision by SAG members to accept the contract negotiated pursuant to the board’s Feb. 9 vote,” the judges wrote.

SAG members endorsed the feature-primetime deal in June with 78% backing — a surprisingly large margin that led Rosenberg to decide against seeking another term as president.

Rosenberg also alleged that the moves should be overturned due to procedural irregularities at the February meeting but the judges said they could find no such violations. And the panel said it disagreed with Rosenberg’s contention that the issues surrounding the use of written assent are of “broad public interest,” with such disputes likely to recur within SAG.

“Nothing before us supports these contentions,” the judges said. “As the issues stem from an exceptional dispute now mooted by the board’s action (and the members vote), we discern no public interest to be served by resolving them.”

The judges also awarded SAG its costs for the appeal.

September 25, 2009

SAG Election Results are in!

SAG elects Ken Howard president
Amy Aquino chosen as secretary-treasurer
By Jay A. Fernandez

Sept 24, 2009, 10:24 PM ET

Updated: Sept 24, 2009, 11:10 PM ET
There are surely more conflicts to come, but the Screen Actors Guild membership on Thursday night settled a big one: Ken Howard has been elected the union’s new national president.

Running mate Amy Aquino beat two-time incumbent Connie Stevens in the race for secretary-treasurer. Howard and Aquino will serve two-year terms beginning Friday.

For the moment, at least, the outcomes indicate that a winning 47.2% of the voting segment of SAG’s roughly 120,000 members prefers the less strident approach of the self-styled moderate wing of the party represented by Unite for Strength.

Howard collected 12,895 votes, or 3,989 more than MembershipFirst candidate Anne-Marie Johnson, who received 32.6% of the 27,295 votes cast. Independents Seymour Cassel and Asmar Muhammad garnered 17.7% and 1.5%, respectively, in their bid for the presidency.

UFS came together last year in opposition and in January led a boardroom coup at SAG, installed new negotiators and salvaged a deal with Hollywood producers nearly a year after sister union AFTRA had ratified its own contract. Johnson is part of a separate coalition, Membership First, that was shunted to the board’s minority and saw its leader, president Alan Rosenberg, muzzled on most official guild business.

Howard, who picked up an acting Emmy on Sunday for his role in HBO’s “Grey Gardens,” campaigned on bringing a more collaborative approach to relationships with AFTRA, the DGA and WGA. Segments of those groups were alienated by the often-heated rhetoric of Rosenberg and 1st national vp Johnson.

“I campaigned on the promise that I’d do everything in my power to strengthen our position at the bargaining table by building a greater unity with AFTRA and the other entertainment unions, and that’s exactly what I intend to do,” Howard said. “Despite the sharp differences that those of us active in guild affairs sometimes have over strategy and tactics, we need to continually remind ourselves that we’re all on the same team, fighting for the same thing — and by pulling together, we’ll only grow stronger.”

UFS expanded the narrow majority it established on the 71-member national board in the September 2008 elections. The next Hollywood board meeting with newly seated members is scheduled for Oct. 5.

In concert with the national result, Mike Hodge was elected president of SAG’s New York branch, succeeding Sam Freed, who passed the moderate baton to his fellow United Screen Actors Nationwide member.

Hodge defeated Mitchell Green, a SAGNOW partisan affiliated with the more hard-line MembershipFirst faction. USAN, which is affiliated with UFS, has dominated SAG politics in New York in the recent past.

The results seem to reflect an industrywide fatigue resulting from the 2007-08 writers strike and the protracted SAG contract negotiations that ended in June. Last week, the WGA elected John Wells to the top slot over the more hard-line Writers United candidate Elias Davis. The rest of the WGA officers, however, were split with Writers United.

Among the immediate challenges facing Howard are retention of coverage of network pilots and the next round of negotiations for a new TV-theatrical contract. As part of the last deal, SAG agreed to start seven weeks of bargaining with the AMPTP as early as October 2010.

Additionally, the shifting economic and labor landscape has resulted in a looming decrease in benefits and increase in premiums beginning in January as a result of investment losses and decreased employer contributions. The damaged pension and health benefits situation became a political hot potato during the campaign.

Mending fences with sister unions DGA, WGA and AFTRA is a high priority for Howard as well. AFTRA members re-elected Roberta Reardon to the presidency in early August. As a UFS candidate, Howard preached the benefit of a collective approach with AFTRA and its roughly 70,000 members in negotiations with the studios and networks, an approach that was abandoned by the previous SAG regime.

The presence of Cassel in the election surely cost Johnson some votes, since he also remains a stalwart MembershipFirst partisan. Cassel narrowly lost to Rosenberg in the 2007 election, but he was dinged by an internal sexual harassment case against him that became public during this most recent campaign.

The National Board members elected Thursday will assume office Friday for terms of three years.

SAG’s Hollywood Division elected 11 National Board members; the New York division elected four National Board members; and seven National Board members were elected from the union’s branches in Chicago, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Philadelphia, Portland and San Diego.

National Board members elected from the Hollywood Division in addition to Sheen, Harris, Johnson, Stevens and Ladd were Elliott Gould, Ed Asner, Dule Hill, Hill Harper, Nancy Travis and Marcia Wallace (all three-year terms).

The following were elected to serve as National Board alternates and to the Hollywood division board (all one-year terms): Rosenberg, Gabrielle Carteris, Jenny O’Hara, Michael O’Keefe, Clyde Kusatsu, Dawnn Lewis, Doug Savant, Michelle Allsopp, D.W. Moffett, Joe Bologna, Robert Hays, Jason George, L. Scott Caldwell, Clark Gregg, Patrick Fabian, Bill Smitrovich, Ellen Crawford, Stacey Travis, Mandy Steckelberg, Renee Taylor, Bernie Casey and John Carroll Lynch.

National Board members elected from the New York division: Freed, Sharon Washington, Monica Trombetta and Liz Zazzi (all three-year terms).

The following were elected to serve as national board alternates and to the New York division board of directors (all one-year terms): Manny Alfaro, Sheila Head, Marc Baron, Joe Narciso, Jay Potter, Dave Bachman, John Rothman, Kevin Scullin and Justin Barrett.

National Board members elected from the Regional Branch division, all with three-year terms: John Carter Brown (Chicago), David Hartley-Margolin (Colorado), Dave Corey (Florida), Scott Rogers (Hawaii), Helen McNutt (Philadelphia), Mary McDonald-Lewis (Portland) and Don Ahles (San Diego).

Ballots for all eligible SAG members in Hollywood and New York were mailed on Aug. 25.

July 21, 2009

SAG’s slate of candidates still secret

SAG’s slate of candidates still secret

Membership First coalition to announce Sunday

SAG 

 

 

 

Despite a fast-approaching Thursday filing deadline, the two factions within the Screen Actors Guild have continued to keep their slate of candidates for the guild’s September elections under wraps.

The Membership First coalition, which is aiming to regain control of SAG’s national board, has opted to announce its slate Sunday at a fund-raiser at the Beverly Hills home of board members Joe Bologna and Renee Taylor. SAG prexy Alan Rosenberg and secretary-treasurer Connie Stevens are hosting the event along with eight co-hosts: Barbara Eden, Dick Van Patten and national board members Scott Bakula, Anne De Salvo, Joely Fisher, Lainie Kazan, Nancy Sinatra and JoBeth Williams.

Since Rosenberg said conditionally six weeks ago that he’d seek a third two-year term, no one else has stepped forward to run for president. First VP Anne-Marie Johnson has admitted her name is under consideration as a Membership First candidate but has also stressed that no final decision has been made.

Membership First plans to run a full slate of candidates in Hollywood — where moderates from Unite for Strenght wrested control of the national board last fall — along with slates in New York and Chicago. About a third of the 71 seats are up in the election, with results due to be announced Sept. 24.

The Unite for Strength faction, which has a slim majority on the national board in a coalition with board members from SAG’s branches, hasn’t yet revealed any of its candidates. Rumors on possible presidential candidates have included national board members Adam Arkin and Morgan Fairchild, alernate national board member Ned Vaughn, Jason Alexander and former secretary-treasurer James Cromwell.

The overwhelming 78% ratification of SAGs feature-primetime contract — despite fervent opposition by Rosenberg and Membership First — has convinced many that the moderates will prevail in the election. But voting by SAG members has remained unpredictable over the past decade.

July 4, 2009

Justine Bateman Resigns

Justine Bateman has resigned from the Screen Actors Guild’s national board of directors, blasting the moderates who control the board and repeating her characterization of AFTRA as a “scumbag” union. In a letter made public Friday, Bateman also expressed frustration over SAG members not sharing her views toward and their recent 78% approval of the feature-primetime contract. “They rarely expressed the correct anger at AFTRA low-balling contracts over the years that affected their ability to provide for themselves,” she said. “They then ignored, seemingly, ALL the news about the migration from Old Media to New Media and recently took from the AMPTP the worst deal I have ever seen. For nothing.” Bateman and other opponents insisted during the anti-ratification campaign that the migration of programming to digital platforms required that actors receive sweeter terms than those contained in the two-year deal. “SAG’s members themselves have now voted up a contract that will cause about 50% of the working members to leave the business, but now that you’re all ‘back to work’ you’re probably too busy to read this,” she said in the letter. “Congratulations.” Bateman’s slot on the board will be filled by an appointed rep from the Hollywood Division board, then become one of the seats up for election in September. The departure of Bateman, one of the more high-profile board members allied with the more assertive Membership First faction, will make it more difficult for that group to regain control of the board from the moderate coalition. Bateman said she initially run for the board three years ago in order to address three issues — the SAG web site, the poor agent-relations, and the “seeming absence” of jurisdictional lines between SAG and AFTRA. She said the web site has been improved but other issues had become worse. Bateman asserted that agents have a conflict of interest by acting as production companies themselves. SAG lost oversight of most major agencies in 2002 when SAG members voted down a revamp of the franchise agreement that eased the ownership restrictions. Bateman gained notice last year for her attack of AFTRA, calling it a “scumbag” union. AFTRA subsequently angrily split from SAG and negotiated its primetime deal separately. Most new pilots have signed with AFTRA since then; additionally, SAG patched up its relations with AFTRA and signed a non-disparagement agreement in order to jointly negotiate a commercials contract “AFTRA has just basically, after years of trying to get SAG’s attention by lighting the newspapers on the porch on fire, have finally succeeded in partially burning the place down,” Bateman said in the Friday letter. “And all we dual-card members be damned. We should have bought that scumbag organization years ago and shut that duplicitous leadership up instead of submitting to this ‘non-disparagement agreement’ by which I am, happily, no longer bound.” She also blasted the SAG board, which saw moderates gain control over the hardline Membership First faction last fall, for requiring that SAG president Alan Rosenberg no longer be allowed to be the official public voice of the union. “What is this?” she asked. “Communist China or tumultuous Iran? I can’t be a part of a union leadership that strips it’s elected leadership of its voice. If we can’t speak up about injustices in union matters, how are we being effective at all in office? No, better to not be a part of it and to be able to speak freely against what I see as irresponsibility, fear, greed, and ego-driven decision-making.” SAG First VP Anne-Marie Johnson told Daily Variety that Bateman was speaking for herself and not on behalf of Membership First.

HERE’S BATEMAN’S RESIGNATION LETTER, DATED JULY 1, 2009.

To All,

I am resigning my position as SAG National Board member and withdrawing my bid for re-election effective immediately.

I initially ran for the Board 3 years ago to affect a change in three areas: the almost non-functioning web-site, the poor agent-relations, and the seeming absence of jurisdictional lines between SAG and AFTRA.

I am happy to have been able to effect the change in the web-site with the help of that committee, Doug Allan, and Pamela Greenwald, but the other goals have alluded me and have just become worse.

Agents are now not only owned in part by organizations that would create conflict of interest, but acting as the production company themselves and nobody saw fit to stop that. Now, though, we’re very far on the other side of that and I suppose actors have not really given thought to to the concept of being represented by an advocate with no conflicting alliances.

AFTRA has just basically, after years of trying to get SAG’s attention by lighting the newspapers on the porch on fire, have finally succeeded in partially burning the place down. And all we dual-card members be damned.

We should have bought that scumbag organization years ago and shut that duplicitous leadership up instead of submitting to this “non-disparagement agreement” by which I am, happily, no longer bound.

And our own SAG leadership gagging Alan Rosenberg and Connie Stevens? What is this? Communist China or tumultuous Iran? I can’t a part of a union leadership that strips it’s elected leadership of its voice. If we can’t speak up about injustices in union matters, how are we being effective at all in office? No, better to not be a part of it and to be able to speak freely against what I see as irresponsibility, fear, greed, and ego-driven decision-making.

And then there is the membership itself. They rarely expressed the correct anger at AFTRA low-balling contracts over the years that affected their ability to provide for themselves. They then ignored, seemingly, ALL the news about the migration from Old Media to New Media and recently took from the AMPTP the worst deal I have ever seen. For nothing.

This is not the make up of membership that could have gotten us Health and Pension or Residuals like our older members struck and fought for years ago. We have all enjoyed those benefits, but when it was our turn to protect them, we blew it. AFTRA blew it. And then we blew it by not expressing absolute outrage over their tactic of GREATLY encouraging their newscasters and weathermen to vote up that AFTRA TV/Theatrical contract “even if you do not work this contract and never will”. Yeah, that was in an e-mail that went around. Some of these weathermen even made YouTube videos celebrating their vote, thumbing their noses at us. CLASSY.

SAG’s members themselves have now voted up a contract that will cause about 50% of the WORKING members to leave the business, but now that you’re all “back to work” you’re probably too busy to read this. Congratulations.

Thank you for allowing me to serve and to represent the membership. I hope I honored the sacrifices of past Board Members who created such wonderful benefits for me and my family like Pension & Health, Basic Minimums, and Residuals. To those members I am truly, truly grateful. Words cannot express my appreciation of your sacrifices for future generations of actors.

Thank You,
Justine Bateman

June 16, 2009

Digital Media Law: SAG Lawsuit Still Grinds On; Court Denies SAG’s Motion to Dismiss Appeal

SAG Lawsuit Still Grinds On; Court Denies SAG’s Motion to Dismiss Appeal

As I previously reported, SAG’s counsel in late May filed a motion to dismiss the appeal by SAG president Alan Rosenberg and three other Membership First hardliners (1st VP Anne-Marie Johnson and board members Diane Ladd and Kent McCord) of a Superior Court order that denied their application for a temporary restraining order. On June 5—just days before the new TV/theatrical contracts were ratified—Rosenberg et al. filed a brief opposing the motion to dismiss.

Unfortunately, the Court of Appeals on June 9 issued a one-sentence order denying the motion to dismiss, presumably meaning that the appeal is too complex to be decided without oral argument (or, at least, full briefing). So, the appeal grinds on. Rosenberg et al. previously filed their brief in the appeal. SAG’s responsive brief is due July 1. Thereafter, Rosenberg et al. get to file a reply brief, and then there will probably be oral argument at some point. Within 90 days after the oral argument, the court will issue its ruling.

In other words, the appeal will probably drag on until sometime in November unless Rosenberg et al. are persuaded to drop it. Meanwhile, the suit itself proceeds in the trial court as well. Confused as to how a case can proceed in two courts at once? Well, it happens, and the legal fees aren’t cheap. All of this sounds like a campaign issue that Unite for Strength will probably raise—why reelect a president who persists in suing his own union? UPDATE: Indeed, as SAGWatch points out, by continuing to pursue their lawsuit, Rosenberg et al. are reneging on a promise Anne-Marie Johnson publicly made to withdraw the suit if the TV/theatrical contracts were approved.

June 10, 2009

Digital Media Law: SAGTV/Theatrical Contract Ratified Overwhelmingly, 78%-22%

Digital Media Law

SAG TV/Theatrical Contract Ratified Overwhelmingly, 78%-22%

In a stunning defeat for the hardline Membership First faction, SAG’s TV/theatrical contract passed overwhelmingly, by a 78%-22% margin (almost 4 to 1), those numbers according to the guild. Variety first reported the story, prior to the guild’s announcement, with a 1% difference in the numbers.

Significantly, even in the faction’s stronghold, the Hollywood division, the vote was an enormous 71% to 29% in favor, or almost 3 to 1. In NY, it was 86% to 14%, and in the regions it was 89% to 11%. There was a large turnout—35% of eligible members voted, far above the typical 20%-25%. The ballots went out to 110,000 paid-up members.

It’s an amazing end to an almost 12 month stalemate, and calls into question the faction’s ability to make any headway in the upcoming SAG board elections. On the contrary, the results suggest that the moderate Unite for Strength faction should make significant gains. That’s because only Membership First will be defending seats in Hollywood , whereas no moderates or independents are up for reelection. Thus, the moderates can only gain, at least in Hollywood . In NY and the regions, Membership First has little support, so, there again, the moderates should prevail.

Another question is the SAG presidency, which is up this year as well. According to Variety, incumbent president Alan Rosenberg announced today that he’ll seek a third term. Given the membership’s overwhelming rejection of his vote No position, that may be an uphill climb, especially if the moderates/independents put forward a high-profile candidate, such as James Cromwell, who has been rumored to be considering a run.

Below are press releases from AFTRA and the AMPTP.

————————-

AFTRA Press Release

AFTRA President Roberta Reardon Applauds SAG Contract Ratification

Los Angeles, CA (June 9, 2009)–In a statement released today, Roberta Reardon, National President of the American Federation of television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), praised the announcement by Screen Actors Guild regarding ratification by SAG members of a new two-year successor agreement to the SAG Basic Agreement and SAG Television Agreement saying:

“On behalf of the more than 70,000 members of AFTRA, I congratulate the members of Screen Actors Guild on their successful ratification of a new television and theatrical agreement. We’re pleased that SAG members will now enjoy improved wages and working conditions, and we applaud their efforts to negotiate a solid new agreement.”

———————

AMPTP Press Release

Statement by the AMPTP

The ratification vote by SAG members is good news for the entertainment industry. This concludes a two-year negotiating process that has resulted in agreements with all major Hollywood Guilds and Unions. We look forward to working with SAG members – and with everyone else in our industry – to emerge from today’s significant economic challenges with a strong and growing business.

June 5, 2009

A letter from Rosenberg

June 3, 2009

SAG Hardliners’ Picnic No Walk in the Park

Filed under: Entertainment — showbizreporting @ 12:28 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

 

SAG Hardliners’ Picnic No Walk in the Park  (May 18, 2009)

 

What if you held a picnic and nobody came? That’s almost where Membership First found itself yesterday. A beautiful day, a heavily promoted event, yet the SAG faction was only able to draw about 70 people to its Griffith Park / LA Zoo shindig, reports Variety.

SAG President Alan Rosenberg, who spoke at the picnic cum rally, predicted “a good chance” of defeat for the pending TV/theatrical deal, but that seems unlikely if MF can only attract a handful of members to an event in LA, considered the group’s stronghold. The ballots go out tomorrow (Tuesday the 19th), with a June 9 return date, so we’ll know in a few weeks whether the MF tigers still roar or whether they’ve turned to paper.

———————

Subscribe to my blog (jhandel.com) for more about SAG, or digital media law generally. Go to the blog itself to subscribe via RSS or email. Or, follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, or subscribe to my Huffington Post articles. If you work in tech, check out my new book How to Write LOIs and Term Sheets.

Variety: SAG, AFTRA mail out ballots: Members to Vote on New Commercials Pact (MAY 1, 2009)

 

SAG, AFTRA mail out ballots

Members to vote on new commercials pact

By DAVE MCNARY

 

SAG and AFTRA have launched their campaign to persuade about 150,000 members to approve the new commercials pact in what’s expected to be an easy ratification.

The unions mailed out the ratification ballots Thursday, followed by an email message Friday that disclosed plans for holding informational meetings in 18 cities. Ballots are due back by May 21.

Unlike the SAG feature-primetime contract, no opposition’s yet emerged to the commercials deal — which has received unanimous backing from the joint negotiating committee and the joint boards of the two unions.

“We believe this is a good and fair contract and we urge you to vote yes,” said SAG president Alan Rosenberg and AFTRA president Roberta Reardon at the conclusion of a letter to members. The letter was also signed by SAG interim national exec director David White and chief negotiator John McGuire along with AFTRA topper Kim Roberts Hedgpeth and chief negotiator Mathis Dunn.

Rosenberg has been fighting ratification of SAG’s deal, mainly on grounds that its new-media provisions fall short. Ballots for the SAG pact go out May 19 with a June 9 return date.

The commercials deal represents a $36 million pay hike in the first year of the contract and a $24 million increase in pension and health contributions over the pact’s three years. It also preserves the current pay-per-play Class A residuals structure while providing for a pilot study on new compenasation model based on ratings.

The commercials pact, which covers nearly $1 billion in annual blurb work, will be retroactive to April 1 and run through March 31, 2012. SAG and AFTRA staged a bitter six-month strike in 2000 against the ad industry, but the tough economic times plus a shift in control of SAG’s national board to a more moderate faction last fall provided strong indications that a commercials strike was unlikely.

Read the full article at:
http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118003084.html

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.