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Thursday, December 11, 2008

STRIKE TWO, WE'RE ALL OUT

THE QUALIFICATION I haven't blogged about the potential SAG strike for a number of reasons. The main one being that I have a LOT of opinions. Many are knee-jerk, overemotional responses. So I waited. When I read that the ballot for a strike authorization will be going out after the first of the year, jerking knee or not, I figured I’d weigh in. For the record, I am a member of SAG, AFTRA, WGA, DGA and a former Teamster. I, like most talent in this town, think AMPTP is an insidious, greedy affiliation that continues to diminish and undermine the creative force that IS entertainment. Recently watching the big three automakers squirm during their beg fest before congress, I couldn't help but superimpose Iger, Chernin, and Moonves’ faces on the bodies of Nardelli, Mulally and Wagoner. It was a sad, eye-opening examination, but there were moments where it was just plain fun watching the fat cats get bitchslapped. I qualify my affiliations and my belief in solidarity because I'm going to share some thoughts that will probably piss people off. They will question my loyalty and want me dead. Join the club (see previous death threat blog). I believe that it would be a huge mistake for SAG to strike in 2009. It would not only cripple this industry, it would deal a blow to the union that could create irreparable damage to actors’ leverage and reputation. THERE IS NO MAT In case you haven't noticed, we are in a full blown recession that's hurling toward another not-so-great depression. It's very fucked up; jobs are scarce. One of my struggles with getting behind the WGA strike was the impact the walk out was having on the whole TEAM. This business is not about the actor, writer or director, it's about the PRODUCTION; it's a huge collaboration. To ignore the ramifications of a strike on all the players affected is not only arrogant and selfish, it ultimately hurts the striking party. That was hard to swallow a year ago during a more stable economy, now it's just unthinkable. If the actors walk out in this economy it would put THOUSANDS of people out of work. Now more than ever, there is no place for those displaced folks to land. Not only is that fiscally and morally wrong, it's a PR nightmare for the union. I'm not saying what SAG is asking for is wrong or undeserved. I've see the "pro-yes" videos and I understand the needs. It's a sound and compelling argument and at any other time it would make sense. My argument is not about the content, it's about timing. Yes, I know AMPTP is using the same argument to demonize SAG and to scare actors into voting "no". But although their motives are twisted and of course void of any real concern for the working man, the facts are true -- a strike would do more harm than good. And SAG using the same fact -- gross unemployment -- as leverage to make a deal, is just as wrong. And if the sentiments in this blog end up in some Big Media propaganda -- “showrunner condemns strike” -- I apologize in advance. But I truly believe that this is not the time to go to the mat. There is no mat. INTO OBVIOUS ACTION Not that anyone asked, but here are the obvious things I think SAG needs to do. 1.) Go back to the table and get the best "comparative deal" you can get (the one AMPTP has offered which is equal to the WGA and DGA deal). 2.) Sign a two year contract so that the SAG contract expires in May of 2011 when the WGA and DGA contracts do. That way all three unions are renegotiating at the same time, giving us back the leverage we lost during the Gilbert administration. 3.) FIRE ALAN ROSENBERG. I’m sure he’s a nice man, but as a leader, I’m telling you kids, he’s a dangerous fucking dude. In a recent interview with the NY Times, Rosenberg said, "Aside from my family, I have two great loves in my life: acting and the fight for social justice." Um… forgive me for being callous, but let's look at this scenario. His wife just left him, his acting career isn't exactly booming, what's the guy got left? That’s right, THE FIGHT. And that's exactly what it is to AR. It's become very personal and very deep. It's his quest to make a difference. As a friend recently pointed out, SAG is renegotiating a contract, not fighting for human rights. The contract talks are not about injustice, they are about percentages and parameters. Do you really want your leader gearing up for a holy crusade when what you need is a determined diplomat? The biggest problem for Mr. Rosenberg now is that the longer this process drags on, the more the size of his dick is on the line. Meaning, he has taken such a strong stance up to this point that anything other than a “bold move” will make him look flaccid. So even though the evidence is piling up that makes a strike the wrong move, his penis will not allow him to acknowledge it (it's a guy thing). Alan no longer has true objectivity or a clear view of the big picture. The most dangerous thing about his leadership is that it becomes a dream scenario for AMPTP. Our leader appears desperate and extreme, so they will hang him out as a "desperate extremist". And unfortunately, he's easy to demonize because his behavior on more than one occasion has been a little, well…demonic. His inner circle of thesnazis are the Samuel French equivalent of eco-terrorists. I've been the victim of some of their threatening emails. When the news of Sons of Anarchy hit the trades, one of them actually called me "a fucking backstabbing asshole" for letting FX “strong-arm” me into an AFTRA contract. And threatened to "blacklist" the show. Really? Are your guest spot residuals from Judging Amy that important where you are actually willing to commit a felony? (BTW, after The Shield, all FX shows became AFTRA. There was no choice in the process.) Luckily, there are now several people recently voted in to the new board who are much more qualified to lead this union. Hopefully a Coup d'├ętat is brewing. 4.) Stay vigilant. Monitor residuals and new media. Take notes on the "gray areas" that will need to be revisited in 2011. It's very easy, once things have returned to normal, to bury your head in the sand, but awareness is one of our strongest weapons. 90 PERCENT PARTY I have no idea what will happen when the SAG strike authorization vote goes out next month. The general consensus is that the 90% of the union who do not earn their livings as actors have nothing to lose, so they will most likely vote to strike. It gives them something to do between temp gigs and it’s an opportunity to make friends and network. It's a fucked up voting system, but that's a whole other blog. Anyway, the point is -- if we strike now, we all lose.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008