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.

October 1, 2009

DML SAG Results

SAG: Four Hardline Horsemen in the National Board Room

Posted: 27 Sep 2009 03:29 PM PDT

Thursday’s SAG election was a victory for the moderate coalition. Yet, strangely enough, the leaders of the losing hardline faction will all find seats on the national board, and will continue to be a shadow government within the union’s Hollywood board—a board on which none of the key moderate leaders will be voting members.

Yes, the moderates (Unite for Strength (UFS) / USAN / RBD / independents) won the national offices – President and Secretary-Treasurer – and picked up additional national board seats and many on the Hollywood board as well. But with SAG, the story is never simple.

In fact, paradoxically, 1st VP and failed Membership First presidential candidate Anne-Marie Johnson will probably continue as 1st VP, ex-president Alan Rosenberg will almost certainly be back on the national board in a matter of days despite winning only an alternate seat, MF leader David Joliffe will probably be on the Hollywood board and effectively on the national board, and MF leader Kent McCord continues on the national and Hollywood boards.

Meanwhile, none of the key moderate leaders will be on the Hollywood board— Unite for Strength leaders Ned Vaughn, Assaf Cohen, Ken Howard and Amy Aquino are all off of that board, at least as voting members (the latter two will serve ex-officio, as non-voting members). Tough independent and former presidential candidate Morgan Fairchild remains, but she’s not a member of the UFS slate and thus doesn’t occupy a leadership position in that group. UFS-ers Adam Arkin and Amy Brenneman also remain, and perhaps will emerge to fill the gap.

How could the election yield so much change in the national offices and so little in the Hollywood Division? Here’s the scenario [UPDATED: Para. 3 is new.]:

1. The moderates seemingly have 27 seats on the Hollywood board out of 55 (because 27 = 6 seats pre-election plus 21 additional seats won in the election). That’s a tad less than half (49%). It would seemingly take peeling off one more vote from MF for the moderates to control the Hollywood board.

2. However, look closer. One of those 6 pre-election seats was held by Ken Howard. Under the SAG Constitution and By-Laws, a national officer can’t also be an elected member of the national board or a Divisional board. So, the day he became president, Howard lost his elected seat on the national and Hollywood boards, and, indeed, his name has been replaced on SAG website listings with “(1 TBD).” That leaves the moderates with 26 seats on the Hollywood board out of 54. That’s less than half by an even greater margin (48%). Now it would take 2 more votes, rather than just one, for the moderates to control the Hollywood board.

3. But, when it comes to electing officers (such as 1st VP) or selecting replacements for the Hollywood and national boards, the news is even bleaker for moderates. That’s because the Hollywood Division Rules of Procedure specify that for such purposes, the only Hollywood Division board members who can vote are national board members (or alternates sitting in for them) from the Hollywood Division. There are 32 such people (33 minus the vacant Ken Howard seat). The moderates control only 9 of those seats, whereas MF has 23.

4. So, Membership First controls who the Hollywood board elects, unless 8 MF-ers break ranks. If that doesn’t happen (and it’s not likely), then MF will fill the TBD vacancy. Whom will they select? Almost certainly Alan Rosenberg, whom they would elevate from national board alternate (which is the office he won on Thursday) to full national board member from the Hollywood division.

5. Thus, although Rosenberg ’s presidency was so discredited in many members’ eyes that he couldn’t even win a board seat, he’s likely to end up with one anyway. This would take place at the next Hollywood board meeting, which is scheduled for October 5.

6. Elevating Rosenberg leaves his alternate seat vacant. So, MF would then vote to appoint its longtime leader David Joliffe as a national alternate (and Hollywood board member). That effectively appoints him to the national board, because one or more of MF celebrity board members (which include Martin Sheen, Ed Harris, Elliott Gould and Ed Asner) will usually be absent from national board meetings.

7. MF will also presumably vote to appoint newly reelected board member Anne-Marie Johnson as 1st VP (the VP office from Hollywood) and thus as Divisional chair, to the extent that she doesn’t automatically continue in these offices (note that the updated SAG website still lists her as 1st VP and divisional rules say that the 1st VP is also the chair). This is possible because Johnson ran for two seats in this election—president, but also, as a backup, national board member. She won the latter.

8. As a result, MF will have skilled leadership as voting members in the Hollywood board room, namely, all four of its core leaders: Johnson, Rosenberg, Jolliffe and, continuing on the national and Hollywood boards, Kent McCord.

9. In contrast, Unite for Strength will have none of its leaders as voting members in the Hollywood boardroom: Ned Vaughn and Assaf Cohen didn’t win seats on the Hollywood or national boards, and Ken Howard and Amy Aquino, as national officers, are non-voting, ex officio members of the Hollywood board, as well as the NY and RBD (Regional Branch Division) boards. One wonders whether Howard and/or Aquino will be able to find time to attend every Hollywood board meeting. In any case, their formal roles would be very circumscribed; under the Constitution and By-Laws, they’re not even allowed to make motions or “initiate any other parliamentary procedures.”

10. Note also that the Hollywood board gets to appoint the Hollywood members of the TV/theatrical contract negotiating committee, if there is one, and that Hollywood has a majority on that committee. That suggests that negotiation will once again have to be handled by a task force appointed by the whole board, not by a committee appointed on a Division by Division basis. (It’s unclear to me whether the task force appointed earlier this year is still in existence.) Unless, that is, SAG and AFTRA are able to reestablish joint bargaining under the Phase 1 agreement.

11. Remember too that it was the Hollywood board that passed a resolution expressing the goal that SAG “acquire actors of AFTRA,” i.e. in some mystical fashion divesting AFTRA of its actors and absorbing all of them in SAG. Anne-Marie Johnson ran for and won a seat on the AFTRA board—despite saying it was distasteful to run—giving her an internal platform for this goal as well. We can expect MF to seek to terminate the anti-disparagement agreement so that the Hollywood board will be free to express its anti-AFTRA views without financial repercussion to SAG.

Bottom line: SAG’s byzantine governance structure and geographical divisiveness will once again facilitate disunity. Among other things, the question becomes, will SAG and AFTRA be able to reestablish Phase 1 joint bargaining? The divided governance certainly makes it harder.

———————

Subscribe to my blog (jhandel.com) for more about entertainment law and digital media law. 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 book How to Write LOIs and Term Sheets.

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.

September 20, 2009

DML SAG VP Video

AMJ: If I’m Elected, David White is Out

Posted: 18 Sep 2009 01:26 PM PDT

In a campaign video, Membership First’s candidate for SAG president, Anne-Marie Johnson says that one her first proposals as new president would be to recommend to the national board that “a search committee be seated . . . immediately” to replace SAG interim National Executive Director David White. Ousted NED Doug Allen would “probably” not come back.

That’s the same David White under whose administration (and chief negotiator John McGuire) multiple SAG collective bargaining agreements were finally signed, including the two largest: the TV/theatrical contract, which Membership First stalemated for a year, and the commercials contract, which was delayed by that stalemate. In contrast, Membership First, under the Doug Allen administration, closed no deals at all.

Johnson justifies her position by asserting White has made clear he was solely the interim NED, but that seems misleading: so far as I’m aware, White never said he didn’t want the job on a permanent basis. So far as I’m aware, White has never taken a public position on this one way or the other.

So if AMJ wants White out, would Doug Allen be coming back? Johnson says she has “no idea.” After praising Allen, she goes on the speculate that he’s doing other things and would “probably not be available for the job.”

The video is about 9 minutes long; the discussion of the NED begins about 3 minutes into it and continues for several minutes.

DML SAG President

SAG Presidential Candidate: I’ll Seek Strike Authorization Next Year if Elected

Posted: 19 Sep 2009 02:18 PM PDT

In an open conference call today, SAG VP and presidential candidate Anne-Marie Johnson said she will seek a strike authorization next year, before the mandated early negotiations next fall, if she’s elected. She argued that that’s what’s needed to gain bargaining leverage and added that she’s “confident” the SAG membership would vote Yes, especially after the guild conducts an educational outreach campaign during its wages and working conditions (W&W) meetings with members.

Johnson added that some people say her Membership First faction is strike happy. She denied that, but said that union members would feel the impact of new media defects in the existing contract before the negotiations next fall, and added that she thought at least 75% of the board will support a strike authorization. She also argued that the sunset clause in the contract, which calls for blank-slate renegotiation of the new media provisions, is “not worth the paper its written on.” That’s seems to be a signal that she thinks a strike will be necessary to force renegotiation.

In an email interview with me, Ned Vaughn, spokesman and board candidate on the moderate Unite for Strength slate, responded as follows:

How we address a strike authorization depends on what we see headed into the negotiations. It’s my firm belief that we must negotiate the next TV/Theatrical contract jointly with AFTRA, so it’s not a decision that would be made unilaterally. That said, the sole focus of Unite for Strength is increasing performers’ bargaining power, so if a strike authorization is needed, we would certainly support it.

I also spoke with an AMPTP spokesman, but he declined comment, explaining that the AMPTP (studio/producers alliance) never comments on guild internal affairs or elections. For the same reason, he declined to comment on last week’s election of moderate candidate John Wells at the WGA.

It’s my sense that Johnson may be at least partially right – i.e., that the union’s board would support a strike authorization, albeit not unanimously. Whether the membership would also is a harder question, since next fall is only a year and half after the end of the devastating Membership First-led SAG stalemate which cost members an estimated $85 million in lost wages, and followed a devastating WGA strike.

In any case, there’s no doubt that the union has a lot of unfinished business in the upcoming round of negotiations. Compromises that were reasonable or necessary in this past round may become less so as new media advances.

For example, move-over residuals (for reruns on the Internet) are very low, and it seems unreasonably so. If the studios become able to make more money on the Internet, those residuals need to increase, although the Internet’s economics are unlikely to ever support the lucrative level of prime-time network residuals, which can range from approximately $800 to $3,200 (or $3,500? I don’t have my SAG agreement close at hand). All content companies – management, in other words – are being squeezed by technology, and labor is not exempt.

When will the studios become able to make significant money on the Internet? That depends in part on how far new media advances and becomes able to replace network and cable TV not just for young people viewing content on their PC’s, but also the general population who prefer to watch content on the big screen TVs they’ve purchased.

My own experience is instructive. I just bought a new flat-screen TV, a 42” LG 42LH50. It’s an Internet-capable model that just came out 6 months ago, and CNET says it has the most advanced Internet capabilities of any TV they’ve reviewed.

Yet, I got a ridiculously great deal. (Trust me, you don’t want to know.) That, of course, is a reflection on how poorly consumer electronics are selling in this economy, which means that we’re a long ways away from lots of people buying Internet-capable TVs. The technology now makes it possible, but the economics don’t yet make it a practical reality.

Now, the TV can play anything available on YouTube or Yahoo. It can even Twitter (how weird) and do other cool stuff, such as play AP news videos, no doubt to the detriment of network news programs, which survive, if at all, on advertising revenues based on viewership. Every content creator is in trouble in the new media world.

So does my new TV’s Internet capabilities mean I can stop watching conventional TV? No. Not only does it not get Hulu or other network websites such as CBS.com, even the YouTube and Yahoo it does get are unusable. That’s because there’s no keyboard, just a remote, so to search for a video, you have to painstakingly press keys multiple times, just like texting on a non-smart phone. It’s even worse, because the keypad on the remote isn’t as usable as a cellphone keypad: it’s not as firm and doesn’t click. And then you get 17,000 hits and how are you going to sort through that?

So, the technology isn’t here yet in a practical sense, even for those who can afford the newest or are lucky enough to score a great deal. But the day is certainly coming. Business models are still shifting, and we might see the shift to new media retarded by pay walls around content or by add-on charges from ISPs (cable companies and telco’s) levied on people who watch large quantities of bandwidth hogging streaming or downloaded media.

In any case, the unions will be under enormous pressure to get improvements in the new media deal, even with the election this week of the moderate Wells at the WGA and the likely election of Ken Howard, the moderate Unite for Strength candidate for SAG president. Let’s hope that the studios and AMPTP recognize that next year is the time to deal with deferred business and negotiate in a more moderate fashion, or we may see a joint SAG-WGA (and possibly AFTRA) strike.

Now let’s return to that conference call. The first question is, what if you gave a conference call open to all SAG members and nobody came? That’s essentially what happened to Membership First – twice. Last week’s call had about 16 callers at most during the call. Today’s maxed out at about the same. (The call-in system announced the number of callers, and I checked repeatedly.)

And let’s look at that 16 number. Deduct 4 candidates (see next paragraph), me, at least one anti-MFer that I know of (lets say there were 2 or so), assume a couple of planted MF partisans (it’d be silly not to plant a few people) and that leaves at best 7 undecideds. What a fizzle.

Most of the prepared questions, and most of the ones asked on the calls, were softballs, many of which included pro-MF statements as the premise of the question. Most of the answers, from Johnson and MF board candidates Charles Shaughnessy, Erik-Anders Nilsson and Jordana Capra, were unsurprising and generally reiterated statements MF has made publicly before.

The newsworthy stuff in addition to the above? In last week’s call, Johnson said she was paying her own legal fees in the long-running, counter-productive suit she, outgoing SAG president Allen Rosenberg and SAG board members Diane Ladd and Kent McCord brought against their own union. (How bizarre that she’s sued the union she now seeks to lead.)

That appears to contradict Rosenberg ’s statement three months ago that he was receiving legal services pro-bono. Johnson also said she wouldn’t bring a motion to have her legal fees reimbursed. However, she didn’t address the likely possibility that another Membership First board member will, nor did she say she would refuse a check if offered. She acknowledged that the lawsuit has cost SAG $170,000 so far, but made no mention of the legal fees she and the other plaintiffs have incurred.

In a separate matter, Johnson claimed that she never said she would fire interim National Executive Director David White if elected, contrary to my report last week. However, she then essentially contradicted herself and confirmed my understanding, by saying there would be a search committee appointed and White could be a candidate if he wished. It sure doesn’t sound like Johnson wants White in the job permanently, and I suspect Doug Allen might be brought back, notwithstanding Johnson’s quasi-denial that I reported last week.

In an out of left field question, someone asked whether pro wrestlers should be allowed to join SAG. Johnson answered that they would have to if they were in a film, but that pro wrestling matches, because they are shot in sequence (i.e., in the manner of live shows), would potentially be under AFTRA jurisdiction, and so the question should be directed at that union. But why not allow wrestlers to join anyway? The current SAG election is a slam-down, so they’d fit right in.

———————

Subscribe to my blog (jhandel.com) for more about entertainment law and digital media law. 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 book How to Write LOIs and Term Sheets.

September 1, 2009

Info about SAG candidates

More than 70 percent of us SAG members across these United States voted to ratify the t.v./theatrical contract.  That contract represents the work of the Unite for Strength board members.  We supported them then – let’s support them now.

Presidential candidate Ken Howard and Secretary Treasurer candidate Amy Aquino are a powerful duo.  Sober of thought, experienced beyond measure, and they have a real, personal stake in the welfare of the union and the contracts.  

Anne Marie Johnson is running for SAG president – I find it simply galling.  I was struck by the mailer that MF sent round… It refers to Anne Marie’s dedication to Screen Actors Guild, its members, and “unionism.”

The card fails to mention her current ongoing lawsuit against her own Guild that has cost our members $171,000 (and counting) or her disparagement of a sister union which may very well result in SAG paying a hefty fine.

Your ballot is either in your mail, in the hands of your business manager, or perhaps you have already sent it in.  

Please this opportunity to VOTE UNITE FOR STRENGTH.  Please vote the entire SLATE.

August 17, 2009

Tonight’s Meeting

Date: Monday 8/17/2009

The hurried-up National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting will take place tomorrow, Monday, in a videoconference gathering ostensibly to ratify the animatiion and basic cable contracts.

Although the ostensible reason for the NEC meeting is to ratify those contracts, apparently, the real reason for the rush is to address the appeal of “Member Unbecoming” findings of a SAG trial board–which result in a suspension which would disallow SAG Presidential announced candidate Seymour Cassel from being on the Presidential ballot.

Now, the Ol’ Dog has labeled this whole unfortunate affair as “Rubberband Gate” because the primary charge involves a couple of female staff members who where the target of rubberbands, allegedly propelled into their derrieres. It all seems a little trivial, in light of the firestorm it will be sure to engender. (Of course, one may feel differently if it was their backside.)

The reason, I say it will start a firestorm, is because I have been assured that Seymour fully intends to take this to federal court if his appeal is denied. And since this involves an election and some questionable practices by senior SAG staff, it could result in a Federal involvement in this election.

You see, when politically motivated charges were brought against a SAG board opponent several years ago, it ended up in federal court and the plaintiff won. Part of the agreement was that SAG would change the way it did business when it came to “conduct unbecoming” charges.

Well, unfortunately, SAG made no changes, which may be a tad hard to explain to the court when SAG defends its policies in regard to Seymour, who was found guilty under the same unmodified policies.

Also, the fact that Seymour was not informed of charges until he pulled his petition, is also suspicious. I was told by a source, I respect, that Seymour was indeed informed in writing of the charges before he drew his petition, but the facts do not support that. Here is a portion of the copy from SAG that Seymour received regarding the fact that charges were being brought. It supports Seymour’s contention that he was not informed of the charges until after he asked for his petition on June 25th.

Now is this drop dead proof that there is hanky-panky going on? No! But it does support Seymour’s claim that he was not informed of the charges until AFTER he received his petition to run for SAG president. And it will be something SAG Legal will have to answer to if, and when, this goes to Federal Court.

Here is a problem I have with this whole affair; In this case SAG staff, on its own, is able to bring charges unbecoming a member against a member. However, a SAG member cannot bring charges unbecoming against a staff member—but rather has to, at great expense, bring their charges in court. How about this; if these staff members have a complaint, why involve SAG, but rather use the only recourse available to a SAG member and take their complaint to court. Hey, fair is fair.

Look, we have three distinguished actors running for President; Ken Howard, Anne-Marie Johnson and Seymour Cassel, do we really need SAG Staff sticking their noses in this election. Let’s hear from the candidates, and let the membership decide who they want to be SAG president.

The fact is that there is too much political BS going on in our union; And If you don’t believe it then check this post for an update later to understand how politics in the branches is being used to deny a qualified SAG member and well established actor from running for the SAG board.

August 3, 2009

Campaign funds

Dear New York Member,

We are writing on behalf of United Screen Actors Nationwide – USAN. Since 2000, USAN has asked for your support and your votes, and you have given us both. Another SAG election is upon us. This election will determine the future of the Guild for years to come and that decision will have a direct effect on all of our livelihoods.

This year in New York, we once again face opposition from Alan Rosenberg and Anne Marie Johnson’s MembershipFirst faction in Hollywood and their surrogates in NY, running under the Trojan Horse heading of “SAGNOW“. If they regain their National Board majority, we will see more of our dues money spent on fighting AFTRA and their contracts, more “go it alone” negotiations, and the very likely re-hiring of Doug Allen as National Executive Director. Doug Allen and MembershipFirst failed to successfully negotiate even one of the eight contracts that were due in 2008, while spending over a million dollars of our dues money to try to convince us that they were doing a great job. Fortunately, we New Yorkers are not that gullible.

In the last year, the members of the NY Board, along with our allies in the Regional Branches, and our newly elected compatriots in Hollywood, took the steps necessary to oust Doug Allen. Allen’s and MembershipFirst’s, failed “destroy AFTRA” strategy led to the loss of many tens of millions of dollars in earnings under the Theatrical & TV Contract when those negotiations were dragged out for close to a year, and millions more lost under the Commercial Contract — which had to be extended for six months because of the prolonged Theatrical and TV negotiations. Add to those losses the damage done to our Pension and Health Fund.

The NY Board and our allies then fought to install a thoughtful and strategic national executive director (David White) and to successfully close both the Theatrical & TV and Commercial Contract negotiations and have them ratified by overwhelming numbers. We were also instrumental in closing the long-delayed Basic Cable Agreement and are currently working on negotiating new TV and Cable Animation contracts. This has all been accomplished since February.

USAN needs not only your votes, we need your contributions to run a campaign that will ensure that we can continue the progress we have made this year. The MembershipFirst/SAGNOW slate is very well funded. We need to be too.

If you believe, as we do, that the best hope for the future of professional performers in NY and across this country lies in eliminating the insanity of multiple unions representing us for the same work, and that the most reasonable way to accomplish that is by working to merge our unions, rather than driving them apart, then please consider contributing your money and your time to this campaign, so that we can continue to take the steps to get us there. We welcome any help you can give us.

The candidates that USAN are asking you to support include National Officer candidates:

Ken Howard – President
Amy Aquino – Secretary/Treasurer

And this year’s NY Nominating Committee candidates, who represent a diverse cross-section of the NY membership and work experience are:

New York Division President:
Mike Hodge

For the New York Board:
Liz Zazzi, Manny Alfaro, Dave Bachman, Marc Baron,
Justin Barrett, Sam Freed, Sheila Head, Joe Narciso,
Jay Potter, John Rothman, Kevin Scullin,
Monica Trombetta, and Sharon Washington

You can make contributions by credit card or PayPal through our website (personal credit card only – no corporate cards). If you wish to send a check please message us for instructions.

Please help any way you can. And please forward this to your friends who may be affected. All of our livelihoods are at stake.

Thanks in advance for your help,

Sam Freed,
Current NY Division President – NY Board Candidate

Mike Hodge,
Current NY Division Vice-President – NY Division Presidential Candidate

July 26, 2009

Thanks from STMPH

Thanks to the efforts of President Alan Rosenberg and spear-headed by First Vice President and Madame Chair Anne-Marie Johnson, with support from SAG Board Members Elliott Gould and SAG Senior Performer’s Committee member Bill Smitrovich, and SAG Senior Committee / SAG Healthcare Safety Net Committee, the Screen Actor’s Guild National Board has voted to support Saving The Lives Of Our Own in their mission to keep long term care open now and for the future, and to restore motion picture and television fund’s commitment of “Taking Care of Our Own”, adding their muscle in stopping the closure of the MPTF Long Term Care facility, and the eviction of the elderly residents who helped build the motion picture and television industry.

Led by SAG actor and Saving the Lives of Our Own activist Daniel Quinn, whose compelling presentation to the National Board eclipsed that of Ken Scherer of the MPTF Foundation – the promise of the continuum of care that was founded by Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith will be a continued tradition for decades to come. With Daniel on the dais was Saving the Lives of Our Own activist Nancy Biederman and legal counsel James O’Callahan from Girardi and Keese.

As the reasons for the turmoil within the MPTF leading to the evictions start to see the light of day, it is evident that the days are numbered for those in the heirarchy of MPTF management.

SAG has spoken, and their will and determination bolsters
and strengthens the resolve of the residents and their families to keep the LTC doors open.

More to come on this huge win for motion picture and television industry healthcare, and the elderly and infirm who are yet to be displaced.

Additonal thank you’s to Diane Ladd, Alan Ruck, Esai Morales, Francis Fisher,
Nancy Sinatra, Connie Stevens, and Michele Santopietro among others.

The pioneering efforts of John Schneider and David Carradine will not be forgotten.

This will be a historical win, and we want you on the winning side. If you haven’t already, please register at http://www.savingthelivesofourown.org. Please invite your friends to join this extremely effective facebook group.

Yours in fighting for the future of motion picture and television industry healthcare – and the rights of the elderly residents of the Motion Picture Home,

Richard Stellar

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.