Showbizreporting's Blog

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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Daily Variety: Opponets ~ SAG could lose vote Members to weigh in on feature-primetime deal (MAR. 23, 2009)

 

Opponents: SAG could lose vote

Members to weigh in on feature-primetime deal

By DAVE MCNARY

 

Opponents of SAG’s tentative feature-primetime deal have declared that guild members will vote the pact down — as long as the turnout rate’s higher than the traditional 30%.

“The more people that we can get to vote, the better chance we have to get this voted down,” said Scott Wilson, organizer of a last-minute antiratification rally Thursday. “I think we have a real chance to defeat this if we can get the information out to the members.”

About 60 opponents attended the picketing outside the headquarters of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers at the Sherman Oaks Galleria. Attendees included national board member France Nuyen, Tom Bower and David Jolliffe, who headed SAG’s negotiating committee before it was abolished in January.

It’s uncertain what would happen if the deal went down to defeat, although opponents contend that such a move would force the congloms to offer SAG better terms in new media. The AMPTP’s insisted that SAG has to accept terms that are equivalent to those in the WGA, DGA and AFTRA deals and emphasized the final offer’s generous amid the current recession.

“We are the last man standing,” Wilson said of SAG. “The other unions have all rolled over.”

Wilson’s staged about a dozen rallies since the board replaced the negotiating committee and fired Doug Allen as national exec director out of frustration over his failure to close a deal. Ballots will go out early next month to SAG’s 120,000 members, with a return date three weeks later.

SAG’s national board approved the tentative deal Sunday by a narrow margin, with 53% backing the pact as the moderate side prevailed. Jolliffe admitted that SAG members are “war-weary” of the issues but agreed with Wilson’s forecast of a defeat.

“If we can get above 30%, we’ll defeat it,” Jolliffe added.

New York board member Paul Christie disagreed with that assessment.

“When the film version of Marat/SAG is greenlighted, they will serve as the Greek chorus howling at the moon and praying for a strike somewhere in the universe,” Christie said. “They are alone in their belief as usual.”

The antiratification forces, which include SAG prexy Alan Rosenberg and former president Ed Asner, are planning a May 3 rally at Griffith Park.

In SAG’s previous contract ratification vote in 2005, 76% of thesps who voted endorsed the deal despite opposition from the hardline Membership First faction. About 30%, or 35,000 members out of 119,000, returned ballots.

Membership First, Rosenberg and Allen tried unsuccessfully to derail AFTRA’s ratification of its primetime deal last summer — contending that it fell short in new media and a wide variety of other areas — after the sister union split from joint negotiations with SAG. The contract received backing from 62% of those voting, although AFTRA’s refused to disclose how many of its 70,000 members voted.

Proponents of the SAG deal have already emphasized that ratification will dispel the uncertainty that working without a contract has caused and tweaked Rosenberg and Allen for deleveraging SAG by alienating AFTRA. SAG’s deal includes a 3.5% annual hike in minimums — a 3% salary hike in the first year plus a 0.5% gain in pension and health contributions in the first year and a 3.5% salary increase in the second.

Allen’s replacements — David White as interim national exec director and John McGuire — were able to persuade the AMPTP to relent on its demand for a full three-year deal, keeping the expiration date of June 2011 in line with those for the DGA, WGA and AFTRA pacts.

Link – http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118002789.html?categoryid=13&cs=1&nid=2562

SAG STALEMATE UPDATE (APR. 17, 2009)

Digital Media Law  
SAG Stalemate Update

Posted: 17 Apr 2009 08:43 AM PDT

The Screen Actors Guild stalemate grinds on. Variety says there are back-channel talks with studio heads, but it’s hard to know whether talks are actually in progress or, if any, how substantive they are. These rumors have persisted off and on for almost two months at least.

Causing the stalemate is the issue of contract expiration date rather than new media; there’s talk of a trade-off between this issue and the (unrelated) SAG demand for force majeure payments per the previous SAG agreement. Meanwhile, the passage of time itself threatens to generate new roadblocks.

The SAG Board is meeting this weekend, and Variety suggests a proposed TV/theatrical deal might be presented to the Board then. I’m skeptical, but you never know. The SAG story has had a surprise around every corner, although for the last year, stalemate has unfortunately been the one constant.

What is known is that the SAG and AFTRA boards will spend part of the weekend meeting jointly to review the proposed commercials contract, a deal reached earlier this month between the two unions and the ad industry. That deal, a good one for labor, has garnered little opposition and is expected to be approved overwhelmingly, first by the two boards, then by the two unions’ membership, a process that will take several weeks.

In contrast, the TV/theatrical deal—even though there isn’t one—has garnered opposition. The MembershipFirst hardliners have pledged to oppose any deal endorsed by the current leadership, in part because of new media issues. A small band of MF-ers, in groups of 50-100, have been protesting the nonexistent deal in small weekly rallies around town for the past 6-8 weeks. That group is led by Scott Wilson, and has included, from time to time, SAG President Alan Rosenberg, 1st VP Anne-Marie Johnson, former national board alternate David Jolliffe, and even twice-ousted National Executive Director Doug Allen.

Speaking of Johnson and Jolliffe, they are two of the several dozen candidates in the upcoming AFTRA national and LA board elections. MF, which bitterly opposes merger between SAG and AFTRA and burns with hatred for AFTRA, has adopted a strategy of attempting to attack merger from within AFTRA itself—not that AFTRA is likely to be keen to merge with SAG at this point anyway, given the turmoil the Guild has endured at the hands of MF for over a year.

Thus, as Variety points out, MF-ers Bonnie Bartlett, Frances Fisher and Sumi Haru currently sit on both the SAG and AFTRA national boards. MF candidates in the upcoming AFTRA elections, in addition to Johnson and Jolliffe, include Steven Barr and David Clennon. Ballots will be mailed May 8 and due back June 3.

The AFTRA press release is below.

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AFTRA press release:
American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO
Los Angeles , California (April 16, 2009)—The Los Angeles Local of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists—the people who entertain and inform America—announced the complete list of candidates for its 2009 election of Los Angeles Officers and Board members, Los Angeles-based National Board members, and delegates to the 2009 AFTRA National Convention.
All seven incumbent AFTRA Los Angeles Officers were named candidates for re-election by the AFTRA Los Angeles Nominating Committee and will run unopposed for additional two-year terms. They include Los Angeles President Ron Morgan; First Vice President Susan Boyd Joyce; Second Vice President Gabrielle Carteris; Third Vice President Bobbie Bates; Fourth Vice President Jason George; Recording Secretary Patrika Darbo; and Treasurer Jay Gerber.
A total of 22 AFTRA Los Angeles Board seats are up for election with candidates either having been selected by the Los Angeles Nominating Committee or qualifying for the ballot by Nominating Petition. Actors named by the Nominating Committee to fill 11openings include incumbents David Bowe, Raza Burgee, Andrew Caple-Shaw, Gabrielle Carteris, Bob Joles, and Kate Linder, along with David Andriole, Mimi Cozzens, Sandra de Bruin, James Schneider, and Marcia Strassman. Qualifying for the ballot by Nominating Petition are incumbent actors Nancy Daly and Paul Napier, joined by actor David Jolliffe.
Incumbent announcer Mike Sakellarides and announcer Chuck Southcott were named by the Nominating Committee as candidates to fill two vacancies representing that category. Dancer Galen Hooks, also an incumbent Board member, was named as a candidate by the Nominating Committee to fill one vacancy in that category.
Candidates to fill two singer vacancies are incumbents Susan Boyd Joyce and Dick Wells, both also selected by the Nominating Committee. Incumbent broadcaster Pepe Barreto was named by the Nominating Committee as a candidate for re-election representing the newsperson category with two additional newsperson seats remaining to be filled. There are also three vacancies representing the sportscaster category to be filled.
Thirteen seats representing Los Angeles on AFTRA’s National Board are up for election, with one seat guaranteed for Los Angeles Announcers and one for Los Angeles Newspersons. The remaining 11 seats will be filled based on the plurality of votes received. All National Board candidates qualified for the ballot by Nominating Petition. Candidates include incumbents Bobbie Bates, Susan Boyd Joyce, Gabrielle Carteris, Jay Gerber, Ron Morgan, Paul Petersen, and Sally Stevens. Also running are members Granville Ames, Steven Barr, L. Scott Caldwell, David Clennon, Milo Edwards, Carole Elliott, Anne-Marie Johnson, D. W. Moffett, Jason Priestley, Elizabeth Reynolds, and Alan Ruck.
Officer and Board Candidates will have the opportunity to address the membership at the AFTRA Los Angeles annual “Meet the Candidates” forum on Wednesday evening, April 29, at the union’s headquarters.
Los Angeles members will also elect 198 delegates to represent their performing categories at the 2009 AFTRA National Convention scheduled for August 6-8 in Chicago , Illinois .
Ballots will be mailed on May 8 with a voting deadline of June 3. Elected Los Angeles Officers and Board members will begin their terms July 1. National Board members begin their four-year terms at the conclusion of this summer’s National Convention.

June 2, 2009

Variety: Doug Allen Joins SAG Picketers (Mar. 18, 2009)

Doug Allen joins SAG picketers

Ousted exec appears at Hollywood protest

SAG Protest

By DAVE MCNARY

Nearly two months after being fired by SAG’s elected leaders, Doug Allen has returned.

SAG’s former national exec made a brief appearance at midday Wednesday on a picket line outside CBS Television City in Hollywood, joining about 100 members who are protesting the final offer on the table from the majors. He wasn’t available for comment after the event.

“He told me, ‘I heard that some of my friends were here,’ ” said Scott Wilson, who had organized the event. “People who are out here really respect what he tried to do.”

 

Allen became a lightning rod during his two-year tenure at SAG, with the moderate coalition that gained control last fall becoming increasingly frustrated with his inability to close out the feature-primetime contract and his advocacy of a strike authorization. After Allen’s Membership First backers staged a ferocious 30-hour filibuster on Jan. 12-13 to prevent his ouster, the moderates used a “written assent” two weeks later to fire him.

Allen sent out a brief farewell message on the day he was fired but has kept a low profile since. SAG president Alan Rosenberg and three other members tried to reinstate Allen by suing SAG and the board members who had voted to fire him but struck out in court.

Membership First has advocated sending out the companies’ “last, best, final” offer to members so that they can vote it down as a way of pushing the congloms to improve the deal. But the SAG national board has spurned that strategy.

Instead, David White — Allen’s interim replacement as national exec director — has reassured thesps he’s trying to break the stalemate. White said Tuesday that SAG leaders are working “deliberately, and with as much haste as possible, to conclude our talks and bring to you, the members, a deal for your ratification.”

White said there are no dates scheduled for a return to formal negotiations. “However, our negotiators are active behind the scenes,” he added.

That was White’s first communication with members other than a message he sent when Allen was ousted.

SAG and the AMPTP nearly reached a deal on Feb. 19, but those talks collapsed over the contract expiration date — with SAG pushing for a mid-2011 expiration in line with the pacts of other unions while the AMPTP insisted on a full three-year term from the date of ratification. SAG members are working under terms of a contract that expired June 30.

Wilson also said that opponents of the deal plan to picket today at NBC Studios in Burbank in connection with President Obama’s appearance on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.”

Link here: http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118001379.html?categoryid=1066&cs=1 

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