Showbizreporting's Blog

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

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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

July 25, 2009

Fixing the Residuals System

Fixing the Residuals System

Posted: 24 Jul 2009 04:19 PM PDT

The residuals system is broken. It’s expensive to administer and is an invitation to conflict as platforms such as new media evolve. Yet we need residuals, because talent survives on these payments between gigs. Can the system be fixed?

Yes, I believe so. For a proposal, see my piece in today’s Hollywood Reporter.

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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 new book How to Write LOIs and Term Sheets.

Rosenberg v. SAG Lawsuit Reply Brief Filed

Posted: 24 Jul 2009 11:20 AM PDT

The appeal grinds on. SAG president Alan Rosenberg and three other Membership First hardliners (1st VP Anne-Marie Johnson and board members Diane Ladd and Kent McCord) filed their reply brief earlier this week.

I’m told there will be oral argument (unscheduled as yet). That’ll drive up the price to SAG of this nonsense by probably about $5,000 more: I’d imagine several attorneys for a mock practice session for several hours, then two attorneys for oral argument for a half day or so. Members’ dues money at work, thanks to MembershipFirst.

———————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 new book How to Write LOIs and Term Sheets.

July 21, 2009

DGA to Rosenberg: Go Away Already!

DGA to Rosenberg: Go away already

Michael Apted slams SAG president

The Directors Guild of America has told Screen Actors Guild president Alan Rosenberg to shut up and go away.

That’s the sentiment expressed by outgoing DGA president Michael Apted in a blunt letter responding to Rosenberg’s request for a summit meeting of the town’s unions about the 2011 round of negotiations.

Rosenberg pledged he would make such an effort on June 9, in the aftermath of SAG members’ ratification of the feature-primetime contract. But, in a letter sent Wednesday, Apted made it abundantly clear that Rosenberg’s relentless criticism of the DGA has been so out of line that the DGA’s not remotely interested in any such get-together.

Apted noted that under “normal circumstances,” such a summit meeting to discuss negotiations could take place — but without public proclamations announcing the meeting first.

“Of course, these are not normal circumstances,” Apted said. “Since June 9, I’ve seen repeated statements in the press regarding your intention to call a meeting, yet Monday’s email is the first time you’ve made any effort to contact me in over 18 months. In addition, you’ve repeatedly, and in my opinion unfraternally, attacked the negotiations and contracts of the DGA and other unions in the press and other public forums. So, in the circumstances, I’m very surprised that you would consider yourself to be in a position to convene an event that requires trust and fraternity to have any chance of success.”

Apted concluded the letter by saying, “On behalf of the DGA, I respectfully decline your request.”

Rosenberg told Daily Variety he was disappointed over Apted’s response.

“It’s a shame that what had been a private communication has become public,” he said. “I’m disappointed that Michael Apted doesn’t share my belief in the importance of building unity among the unions because our collective efforts should be towards obtaining a decent deal in two years. What’s happened at past negotiations doesn’t really matter now.”

The SAG president’s power to speak officially on behalf of the guild was taken away in late January as part of the move by the board’s moderates to oust former SAG national exec director Doug Allen.

But there’s been bad blood between the guilds dating back to Jan. 29, 2008 — when Rosenberg and Allen blasted the DGA’s tentative contract agreement with the majors, which eventually served as the template for the WGA, AFTRA and SAG contracts. Rosenberg and Allen criticized many of the specifics of the deal in a message sent to SAG members.

Apted responded on the same day by accusing SAG of throwing a monkey wrench into the talks between the WGA and majors that would ultimately settle the scribes’ 100-day walkout.

“Their letter has one purpose and one purpose only: to interfere with the informal talks currently under way between the WGA and the studios,” Apted said at the time. “Simply put, their assumptions and arguments are specious. The DGA deal is a great deal for our members.”

AFTRA president Roberta Reardon said last week that there had been no movement toward a summit meeting. She had proposed the idea a year ago but said last Friday that she’d wait until after the SAG elections in September before exploring such a step.

An AFTRA rep said that Los Angeles Local President Ron Morgan received an invitation earlier this week from Rosenberg to meet at his home on Aug. 3 to discuss “building solidarity” between the entertainment labor unions. But she added that AFTRA leaders won’t be available.

“AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon never received an invitation,” the rep added. “The entire AFTRA leadership team will be in Chicago from Monday, August 3 through Sunday, August 9 for the Convention and other related union meetings, which have been scheduled for more than a year.”

WGA West spokesman Neal Sacharow said that WGA West president Patric Verrone — who will be termed out of office in September — will attend the Aug. 3 meeting at Rosenberg’s home. Besides Apted, Verrone and Morgan, Rosenberg also invited Michael Miller, VP of the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.

“The refrain I heard most often during this past negotiating season is that we had to ‘build solidarity between our organizations’ in preparation for 2011,” Rosenberg said in the invite. “I would like to invite you to what, I hope, will be the first in a series of informal, discussions designed to create that unity. In general, I would like to explore those areas where we share common ground, and how we might develop strategies that will benefit our respective members.”

July 17, 2009

DGA tell Rosenberg

Speaks volumes about the future.

Michael Apted slams SAG president – By Dave McNary July 17. 2009

The Directors Guild of America has told Screen Actors Guild president Alan Rosenberg to shut up and go away.

That’s the sentiment expressed by outgoing DGA president Michael Apted in a blunt letter responding to Rosenberg’s request for a summit meeting of the town’s unions about the 2011 round of negotiations.

Rosenberg pledged he would make such an effort on June 9, in the aftermath of SAG members’ ratification of the feature-primetime contract. But, in a letter sent Wednesday, Apted made it abundantly clear that Rosenberg’s relentless criticism of the DGA has been so out of line that the DGA’s not remotely interested in any such get-together.

Apted noted that under “normal circumstances,” such a summit meeting to discuss negotiations could take place — but without public proclamations announcing the meeting first.

“Of course, these are not normal circumstances,” Apted said. “Since June 9, I’ve seen repeated statements in the press regarding your intention to call a meeting, yet Monday’s email is the first time you’ve made any effort to contact me in over 18 months. In addition, you’ve repeatedly, and in my opinion unfraternally, attacked the negotiations and contracts of the DGA and other unions in the press and other public forums. So, in the circumstances, I’m very surprised that you would consider yourself to be in a position to convene an event that requires trust and fraternity to have any chance of success.”

Apted concluded the letter by saying, “On behalf of the DGA, I respectfully decline your request.”

Rosenberg told Daily Variety he was disappointed over Apted’s response.

“It’s a shame that what had been a private communication has become public,” he said. “I’m disappointed that Michael Apted doesn’t share my belief in the importance of building unity among the unions because our collective efforts should be towards obtaining a decent deal in two years. What’s happened at past negotiations doesn’t really matter now.”

The SAG president’s power to speak officially on behalf of the guild was taken away in late January as part of the move by the board’s moderates to oust former SAG national exec director Doug Allen.

But there’s been bad blood between the guilds dating back to Jan. 29, 2008 — when Rosenberg and Allen blasted the DGA’s tentative contract agreement with the majors, which eventually served as the template for the WGA, AFTRA and SAG contracts. Rosenberg and Allen criticized many of the specifics of the deal in a message sent to SAG members.

Apted responded on the same day by accusing SAG of throwing a monkey wrench into the talks between the WGA and majors that would ultimately settle the scribes’ 100-day walkout.

“Their letter has one purpose and one purpose only: to interfere with the informal talks currently under way between the WGA and the studios,” Apted said at the time. “Simply put, their assumptions and arguments are specious. The DGA deal is a great deal for our members.”

AFTRA president Roberta Reardon said last week that there had been no movement toward a summit meeting. She had proposed the idea a year ago but said last Friday that she’d wait until after the SAG elections in September before exploring such a step.

The WGA said it has not been approached by Rosenberg about such a summit meeting.

An AFTRA rep said that Los Angeles Local President Ron Morgan received an invitation earlier this week from Rosenberg to meet at his home on Aug. 3 to discuss “building solidarity” between the entertainment labor unions. But she added that AFTRA leaders won’t be available.

“AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon never received an invitation,” the rep added. “The entire AFTRA leadership team will be in Chicago from Monday, August 3 through Sunday, August 9 for the Convention and other related union meetings, which have been scheduled for more than a year.”

WGA West spokesman Neal Sacharow said Thursday, “The WGA has not been approached by Alan Rosenberg about such a summit meeting.”

July 6, 2009

Digital Media Law – SAG President’s lawsuit

SAG President’s Anti-SAG Suit Continues Posted: 05 Jul 2009 11:35 PM PDT For those who like keeping up with legal dockets, SAG a few days ago filed its Respondent’s Brief in the appeals court case that stems from the lawsuit filed by SAG president Alan Rosenberg and three other Membership First hardliners (1st VP Anne-Marie Johnson and board members Diane Ladd and Kent McCord) against their own union. Rosenberg et al will shortly file another brief, then (as I’ve previously outlined) there may be oral argument and then there will ultimately be a decision. But that’s just on the appeal. The case also proceeds in the lower court as well, and will probably continue to do so regardless of the outcome in the appellate court. Not that there’s any good reason for this case to continue in either court . . . ——————— 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 new book How to Write LOIs and Term Sheets.

June 10, 2009

SAG Ratify TV/Theatrical Agreements

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Screen Actors Guild Members Overwhelmingly Ratify TV/Theatrical Agreements


Los Angeles, (June 9, 2009)Screen Actors Guild announced today that members have voted overwhelmingly to approve its TV/Theatrical contracts by a vote of 78 percent to 22 percent.
 
The two-year successor agreement covers film and digital television programs, motion pictures and new media productions. The pact becomes effective at 12:01 a.m. June 10, 2009 and expires June 30, 2011.
 
The contracts provide more than $105 million in wages, increased pension contributions, and other gains and establishes a template for SAG coverage of new media formats.
 
Approximately 110,000 SAG members received ballots of which 35.26 percent returned them – a return that is above average compared with typical referenda on Screen Actors Guild contracts. Integrity Voting Systems of Everett, WA, provided election services and tonight certified the final vote tally upon completion of the tabulation.
 
The vote count in the Hollywood Division was 70.70 percent to 29.30 percent in favor. In the New York Division, the vote count was 85.74 percent to 14.26 percent in favor. And in the Regional Branch Division, the vote count was 89.06 percent to 10.94 percent in favor.
 
Screen Actors Guild President Alan Rosenberg said, “The membership has spoken and has decided to work under the terms of this contract that many of us, who have been involved in these negotiations from the beginning, believe to be devastatingly unsatisfactory. Tomorrow morning I will be contacting the elected leadership of the other talent unions with the hope of beginning a series of pre-negotiation summit meetings in preparation for 2011. I call upon all SAG members to begin to ready themselves for the battle ahead,” Rosenberg added.
 
Screen Actors Guild Interim National Executive Director David White said, “This decisive vote gets our members back to work with immediate pay raises and puts SAG in a strong position for the future. Preparation for the next round of negotiations begins now. Our members can expect more positive changes in the coming months as we organize new work opportunities, repair and reinvigorate our relationships with our sister unions and industry partners, and continue to improve the Guild’s operations.”
 
Screen Actors Guild Chief Negotiator John McGuire said, “I want to thank the SAG members and staff who dedicated their time to the negotiations process. We emerged with a solid deal that the members have now voted up. The negotiating team worked tirelessly, building on the work of the first negotiating committee, to deliver these improvements to members.”
 
Screen Actors Guild began talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on April 15, 2008.  Guild Chief Negotiator John McGuire, Interim National Executive Director David White, and Deputy National Executive Director for Contracts Ray Rodriguez, working with a 10-person negotiating task force comprised of Screen Actors Guild board members and officers representing the three divisions, reached the tentative agreement on April 16, 2009 after 12 months of periodic negotiations with the motion picture studios and television networks.
 
For further information on the new contract, including the full text and a summary of the agreement, click here <http://www.sag.org/tvtheatrical-negotiations> .  

ACTORS RESPOND TO CONTRACT RATIFICATION

Tony Shalhoub, actor
“This is a great decision for SAG and I’m so appreciative of everything the new leadership is doing to put the Guild back on track. They’ve obviously got the right ideas for making SAG stronger.”

Stephen Collins, actor
“This contract passed because members knew it was time to take advantage of the gains our negotiators won and get back to work. On top of that, they understood that risking our ability to negotiate alongside AFTRA and the other unions in the 2011 negotiations would have been a huge mistake.  It’s a great day for SAG.”

Sam Freed, actor, 2nd National Vice President
“This decision by the membership marks the end of a very long process.  We can now move forward with a new sense of certainty.”

Sue-Anne Morrow, actor, National Board Member representing New York
“This is a good deal with good gains. SAG’s members clearly agree. It’s about time we got a raise. I’m so pleased that SAG’s members exercised their right to be heard and said ‘Yes!’.”

Mike Hodge, actor, National Board Member representing New York
“I am extremely pleased that we have finally come to the close of a long, unproductive period. I am hopeful that we can heal our wounds and really start the work to become a unified, national union.”

Nancy Duerr, actor, National Board Member representing SAG Florida Branch
“This is a victory for SAG performers across our region. Stalled and delayed productions can now get underway, boosting our local economies. This contract not only puts more money in members’ pockets, it preserves the high standards of working conditions our members have come to expect.”

Todd Hissong, actor, Chicago Branch President, National Board Member
“By passing this referendum, Chicago members have sent a clear message that we want to get back to work. Screen Actors Guild members across the country have yet again demonstrated our grasp of the issues, the importance of unionism, and our need to stand together with our sister unions to make deals that benefit us all.”

David Hartley-Margolin, Colorado actor, SAG 3rd Vice President
“The membership always has the last word when it comes to contract matters. They have spoken. Their endorsement of the deal with the AMPTP ends the uncertainty that has been hovering over us and allows Screen Actors Guild and the industry to move forward together.”

June 5, 2009

A letter from Rosenberg

June 3, 2009

SAG Town Hall Meeting

Report on SAG NY Town Hall Meeting  (June 2,  2009)

 

SAG held a town hall meeting in NY last night to provide information re the TV/theatrical contract. It comes a bit late in the process, since the ballots are due back in the mail by next Tuesday, June 9. That means that the last day to reliably mail the ballots is probably Friday, or even Thursday, depending on your faith in the USPS and its vagaries. It also means that we have probably seen the end of the multitude of pro and con videos deployed on the SAG website, Membership First website, and YouTube.

Variety reports the turnout was slim—about 100 actors. SAGWatch infers, accurately I think, that most people have already voted and would have little reason to attend an informational meeting at this point.

The Variety report notes that attendees included SAG interim NED David White, President Alan Rosenberg, MF-ers 1st VP Anne-Marie Johnson and Scott Wilson, while supporters of the deal included Dan Lauria, Dylan Baker, SAG 2nd VP Sam Freed and board members Ralph Byers, Paul Christie, Rebecca Damon, Mike Hodge and Kevin Scullin.

A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, tells me that the MF folks (perhaps 15-20 people) were rowdy, booing people and apparently having their cell phones call en masse to disrupt the meeting.

However, the most interesting thing the source told me is that after the meeting the source spoke individually with Alan Rosenberg and asked whether he would attempt to have SAG reimburse him for his legal fees incurred in the lawsuit he, Johnson, Diane Ladd and Kent McCord files against SAG itself, a suit that has received denials in both the trial and appellate courts but nonetheless continues at both levels.

What’s interesting Rosenberg’s response, as reported by the source: “I don’t have any legal fees. It’s pro bono.” This is a problem—if true, it would explain in part why Rosenberg and his co-plaintiffs continue the futile and disruptive suit against SAG, which is burning up the union’s money at a that the guild has ben left with a $6 million deficit by MF. It’s also a small benefit, in that the plaintiffs will have no legal fees to extract from SAG if they were to recover control of the national board.

I emailed Rosenberg requesting comment on the source’s report and his assistant replied that his response was as follows: “This is a private matter and I don’t want to speak about it publicly”. “I have no further comment”.

 

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SAG Files Motion to Dismiss Rosenberg Appeal

 

SAG Files Motion to Dismiss Rosenberg Appeal (May 24, 2009)

As you’ll recall, several months ago, SAG president Alan Rosenberg and three other hardliners (1st VP Anne-Marie Johnson and board members Diane Ladd and Kent McCord) sued their own union, seeking to enjoin negotiations and reverse personnel and procedural changes that they correctly anticipated would pave the way for a deal on terms the hardliners are pledged to oppose. Although their requests were denied by both the trial and appeals courts, the lawsuit nonetheless continues in both of those forums (Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC406900 and Second Appellate District 2d Civil No. B214056).

Several days ago, SAG filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, on the grounds that the appeal is moot. You can read the motion here. Even if the court grants the motion, which it ought to, and may well, Rosenberg et al might choose to appeal to the State Supreme Court. They won’t get any traction if they do, but regardless of whether or not they do, the lower court case will continue for at least the next few months, and there will be further opportunities to appeal.

So, SAG’s legal fees will continue to mount, courtesy of the union’s own president and 1st VP. Summer is fire season in Southern California, but it’s usually the hillsides that are at risk. This time, though, a bit of SAG’s treasury is burning as well.

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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.

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