Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Not sure if you've been following the SAG drama, but it culminated in the ousting of chief negotiator, Doug Allen. The majority tried to remove him several weeks ago and were shut down by inane and destructive filibuster tactics led by SAG leader Alan Rosenberg and his inner circle of thespnazis. Today, that majority put that termination decision into a written assent. Up next, we impeach Rosenberg and rid the union of it's cancerous ego-maniacal leadership. This is the official SAG statement: Los Angeles (January 26, 2009) -- The Screen Actors Guild National Board of Directors by written assent today terminated the employment of Doug Allen and appointed former Guild general counsel David White to replace him as interim national executive director. The board further appointed longtime Guild senior advisor John T. McGuire as chief negotiator. The board also disbanded the TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee and directed that it be replaced with a Taskforce directed to complete these negotiations on behalf of the board of directors. All actions are effective immediately. The assent was received and verified by Guild legal counsel and Screen Actors Guild’s outside counsel. White has assumed his role as interim national executive director and will work from the Guild’s national headquarters office in Los Angeles beginning Tuesday, January 27, 2009. “This is a difficult time for Screen Actors Guild and a particularly challenging period for working actors,” said White. “I am deeply committed to the Guild and its members and I believe that, working with the national board, we can help guide this transition.” “I look forward to working closely with this talented and dedicated staff, many of whom I know well from my years as the Guild’s general counsel,” he added. During his tenure as Screen Actors Guild’s general counsel, White directed the organization’s legal and governance staff and played a central role in the Guild’s contract negotiations and strategic planning efforts. He later co-founded and served as the managing principal of the consulting firm Entertainment Strategies Group (ESG). A graduate of Stanford Law School and a Rhodes Scholar, White was previously a labor and employment attorney at the Los Angeles firm of O’Melveny & Myers. He has consulted for Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago and a variety of urban development projects in the United States, England and South Africa. He currently serves as chairman of the Board of Trustees of his alma mater, Grinnell College and is the former co-chair of the American Bar Association’s Sports & Entertainment Labor Law Standing Committee. He also serves as a Mayoral-appointed commissioner of Los Angeles for urban area planning and development. John T. McGuire is currently the Guild’s senior advisor. During his nearly 40 years with the union, he participated in or led more than 30 contract negotiations covering actors. From 1983 to 2001, he was Screen Actors Guild’s associate national executive director, the second highest ranking executive position. Prior to 1983 he served as the New York executive director. McGuire graduated from Fordham College with a B.A. degree in History and from Fordham Law School with a J.D. degree in law. He has represented the union internationally at meetings with performer organizations around the world. He serves as a trustee of the SAG-Producers Pension & Health Plans, as well as vice president and founding director of the American Museum of the Moving Image, president of the Council of Motion Picture & Television Unions of New York City, secretary of the Motion Picture Players Welfare Fun and as a trustee of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation. He is a member of the board of the Industry Advancement & Cooperative Fund and is vice president of the International Federation of Actors. Guild senior executives issued an email reminding Guild employees to continue to pursue the organization’s core mission of serving and protecting the interests of Screen Actors Guild members. Alan Rosenberg's defense email: My Fellow Screen Actors Guild Members, Yesterday, on January 26th, a slim majority of our National Board voted to fire our National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator, Doug Allen. This was not accomplished in a face-to-face Board meeting, where the significant minority would have had an opportunity to voice its opinion and where Mr. Allen would have had a chance to face his accusers and address their concerns. Instead, this drastic action was accomplished by "written assent", the most undemocratic provision allowed by our Constitution. As your twice-elected National President, I feel that it is my responsibility to give you my perspective on yesterday’s events, although my ability to do so is somewhat limited. The same majority, 52.52%, that fired Mr. Allen also voted to change our Board policy that designated the National President to be one of the official spokespeople for the Guild. As of yesterday, the only two people who are permitted to officially speak for Screen Actors Guild are our newly appointed interim NED, David White, and John McGuire, our Senior Advisor from New York. The members now have no official voice. I appreciate the fact that Mr. White thinks it is preposterous to silence a duly elected national officer, and so has permitted me this forum, provided I inform you that what I am about to write represents my opinion. However, although I am not writing on behalf of the Guild, I believe I do speak for the nearly 48% percent of the Board who are deeply concerned about what was done yesterday and about how these changes were accomplished. Many of us believe that Doug Allen was fired because he was simply too good, too strong, and too much a unionist. His greatest sin was in challenging the idea that we be bound by the concept of "pattern bargaining", under which actors have been disadvantaged for decades. Doug gave us the courage to accept the fact that we had a legal right to pursue an agreement that addressed the specific needs of actors; that it is unreasonable to think that the DGA or WGA, without asking any questions pertaining to actors' participation in "new media", could strike a deal that would adequately address the concerns of our 120,000 members and the diverse nature and needs of a membership that includes middle class actors, background actors, stunt performers, singers, dancers and our biggest stars. I, and the majority of our negotiating committee, were amazed by Doug's skill as a negotiator and team leader, and by his diigence and breadth of knowledge. We were profoundly moved by his love for and dedication to actors. I have no doubt that, if our Board had demonstrated any solidarity whatsoever, Doug and our committee would have arrived at an acceptable deal some time ago. Instead, members of that Board engaged in a systematic effort to sabotage these negotiations by passing motions that prescribed courses of action, and then repudiating those motions, thereby throwing our leadership into a state of chaos and our membership into a state of confusion. This was done consistently and, I believe, intentionally, so that our progressive leadership would be made to appear inept, which would pave the way towards a return to the go-along-to-get-along days of yore. Now there is a new lead negotiator in the person of John T. McGuire. Our Negotiating Committee has been replaced by a new, more moderate Task Force. You can expect that not long after this new team enters the Bargaining Room, they will be offered some "plum", some concession from the AMPTP that was said, heretofore, to be unattainable. This will be given by our employers, not as an act of good will, but as a demonstration of the fact that "reasonableness" will be rewarded, while "militancy" will be punished. Make no mistake, if this should occur, if there is any gain made, or if we are ultimately able to resist one of the massive roll backs that has been demanded, it will not be due to the skill of this new "negotiating team". Anything that is won from this point forward will still be the result of the enormously hard work put in by Doug Allen and the majority of the negotiating team that has been in place since our W and W caucuses began a year ago this February. I am enormously proud of that team, led by Doug , of which I was a member. We were able to change the discussion about these existing deals from the obfuscatory claims that they were somehow "groundbreaking" to a sobering dialogue, illuminating just how damaging these new media deals might be to the prospects of a middle class actor’s ability to make a living. You should know that the ability to get things accomplished by "written assent" was also available to the progressive leadership that held the majority in the Boardroom prior to the most recent election. That Draconian option was never employed, however. Despite what has been said about that majority, they always made democracy their highest priority. They understood that a slim majority of 52% or 53 % gave no one the right to ride roughshod over a significant minority; they understood what the use of such a tactic would do to democracy in our union; they never desired to open that Pandora's Box. Unfortunately, now it has been opened and precedent has been set. I, and the previous Board majority, have always been willing to compromise on any issue. Compromise is the way things get accomplished in a contentious democracy such as ours. To date, I have not been approached by a single Board member from New York, the RBD, or from the ironically named slate "Unite for Strength", to try and find common ground on any issue. If these elected officials desire to move forward in any significant way in the name of the members, this behavior must change. In unity, Alan Rosenberg David White's call for unity email: Dear Screen Actors Guild member, As I enter my first full day today as your new Interim National Executive Director, I have reflected on a Los Angeles Examiner story from 1937 that once hung on the wall of my Screen Actors Guild office when I served as General Counsel. The article chronicled the moment when the studios had finally recognized the Guild as the labor representative for actors in the motion picture industry. A grainy photograph captured members celebrating the news together, the joy in their faces richly evident. That moment, and the incredible work that it took Guild members to reach that moment, have served as the foundation for 75 years of history that has followed. In my previous tenure at the Guild, I worked alongside several elected National Boards, two presidents (current President Rosenberg and former President Melissa Gilbert) and three National Executive Directors. My intention now, as Interim National Executive Director, will be to work with your current National Board to navigate through a period that is brimming with both challenges and opportunities – from completing our TV/Theatrical negotiations; to preparing for and securing a new Commercials contract as well as several other smaller but critically important labor agreements; to repairing relations with our sister unions; and addressing a polarized political system that is perceived by too many of our members as being close to broken. As we confront these efforts together, my overarching goal is this: to help restore your confidence that this is a union where strong and wise decisions are made despite political differences. The greatest challenge facing this union is to find a way for democratic leadership to flourish – for disagreement and debate to build into unity and power. The Guild’s diversity of opinion should, and must, serve as a source of strength and solidarity. I believe in the Guild’s capacity for this. And that is why today I offer two messages to each and every member: First, I will be at the office each day to work with your talented staff and your National Board to achieve objectives that advance your interests as actors; and, second, it is time to turn the page on the most destructive aspects of the Guild’s internal politics. In this swiftly changing environment, we will not be successful if we do not work together. This effort will take an entire union – all members, from background actors, to stunt performers, to voice over actors; those working in film television, commercials, industrials and video games; dancers and singers; middle-class actors, to high-profile ones, to struggling artists working each day to break through for their first chance. We must work together. Because if not, the well-known words that a previous leader offered to a once-divided collection of citizens will matter to us now: united we stand; divided we fall. During this extraordinary period for both our union and country, I am again reminded of the achievement of the Guild’s founders as recounted in that 1937 Los Angeles Examiner story. Their achievement came as a result of a supreme effort by a group of committed performers willing to set aside their differences in pursuit of that shared purpose. The result: they built an organization whose membership card today remains the ultimate benchmark for professional performers. The triumph of the Guild’s founders cannot be overstated – nor can the sacrifice, wisdom and political maturity that was required to achieve it. I enter this interim role with the grand history of the Screen Actors Guild rooted firmly in my mind. I did not seek this position, but I am honored to act as its temporary custodian. You have my pledge that I will direct all my energies to steadying this historic organization and ensuring its success. I thank the Guild’s National Board for the confidence and trust they have placed in me on your behalf. And I look forward to working together, in solidarity. David White Interim National Executive Director Screen Actors Guild

Sunday, January 25, 2009


I think I've figured it out. I've switched to a simple template, one column. I'll only post a few blogs on the main page and archive the rest so folks can access the info in the footer without scrolling through months of blogs. Hopefully this will solve the browser issues. Thanks to Rags for the Browsershots link, that was incredibly helpful.