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Paramount Admits It Dismissed Executive for Alleged Embezzlement!

March 27, 2015 (17:51) | 2014 | By: Arlin Miller

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 How Embezzlement Can Rob You Of Your Business

March 26, 2015 | 05:40PM PT



L.A. Actors Protest Union Plan For Minimum Wage At 99-Seat Theaters!

March 23, 2015 (18:24) | 2014 | By: Arlin Miller

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March 23, 2015 5:08pm

Armed with picket signs and the support of such recognizable stars as Tim Robbins and Helen Mirren, some 350 people marched Monday afternoon a mile-long route to the North Hollywood office of the Actors’ Equity Association to protest the union’s proposal that would require small theaters to pay actors the minimum wage for performances. Stretching in a line several city blocks long, the marchers call on the union to retain the current plan that allows professional actors and stage managers to work in theaters seating fewer than 100 people for little more than car fare. “We want change, but not this change,” they chanted. “Hey, hey, ho, ho, 99, it cannot go.”

“This would kill almost all 99-seat theaters,” said actor Jeff Perry, co-founder of the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago.

One of the protest organizers, Frances Fisher, who served on SAG’s board for 10 years, told Deadline that the 99-seat waiver is akin to SAG’s low-budget agreement. Even that contract, however, pays more than minimum wage. “This is not the issue,” she said. “The 99-seat plan was never created to do that. We all want to be paid, but this is not the way to do it.”

Mirren, the British star currently appearing on Broadway in The Audience, sent a statement of support: “Actors are often taken advantage of and often abused,” she said. “But this is a case of actors doing what they want to. No one in this situation is going to make a million while a contributing artist starves.”

Jason Alexander also sent a note of support that read: “I can assure you that the current revision to the waiver contract that is being put to a vote has not been negotiated or even discussed with waiver theater owners, and I can also assure you that if it is enacted, those owners will either fold or produce only non-union shows. They cannot survive under the dictates under the new proposal.”

The dispute could determine the future of small theater in L.A. The protesters are outraged that AEA is even considering asking producers to pay them minimum wage. Such a move, they say, would put many small theaters out of business. But the union feels it’s time for small theater companies to pay actors at least as much as they pay janitors. It’s a classic case of art versus commerce; of union members versus their union’s reasonable demand that employers abide by state and federal minimum wage laws.

The current plan allows producers to pay their actors as little as $7 a performance, and nothing at all for rehearsals. the new plan would require them to pay the minimum wage, which in California is currently $9 an hour and will be going up to $10 an hour on Jan. 1, 2016.

“Tiny theaters on micro-budgets would be hard-pressed to meet such a sudden new requirement.”

Those opposed to the new plan — who also count such theater-world heavyweights as Ed Asner, Amy Madigan, Ed Harris, Tony Shalhoub and Valerie Harper — argue that this represents a “massive threat to the continued existence of LA’s intimate theatres.” On their website, ILove99.org, they write: “Our labor union has issued a proposal that Los Angeles AEA members will be asked to vote on in the coming days that could make it almost impossible for many of its members to perform on stage in this city anymore. Scores of beloved theaters would be forced to double or triple their budgets overnight in order to give actors a drastic pay raise. Tiny theaters on micro-budgets would be hard-pressed to meet such a sudden new requirement. Many would likely either have to stop using union members, severely curtail doing the kind of artistic work they set out to do, or fold entirely. There are no greedy, cigar-chomping profiteers in LA 99-seat theater. We, the actors who do these shows, are not being exploited. We have chosen in the past to work for tiny stipends in order to be seen; to hone our craft; and to honor the unique chemistry of necessity and love that drives any artist.”

The dispute also pits the protesters against California’s tough labor laws. Many of the 99-seat theatres are non-profit organizations, but state minimum wage laws make no exceptions for stage actors regardless of the emplyers’ tax status. Small theater producers have long skated by on the pretext that their actors are “volunteers” — a term the union also uses in describing its members who work under its 99-seat theatre plan. It’s the same argument that companies make when they employ unpaid interns. Recent court rulings have made it clear, however, that the industry can no longer used unpaid interns unless they receive college credit.

Kathleen Hennessy, a spokesperson for the California State Labor Commissioner, told Deadline that stage actors are not exempt from the state’s minimum wage laws. “There is no such exemption for actors at non-profit theaters.” One exception, she noted, was for “learners.” According to state law: “Employees in the first 160 hours of employment in occupations in which they have no previous similar or related experience may be paid not less than 85% of the minimum wage rounded to the nearest nickel.”

That would still be more than the 99-seat theaters are paying their actors, and wouldn’t apply to any of the veteran actors protesting today. It remains unclear why California State Labor Commissioners haven’t enforced this law for the past 40 years.

The union made its position clear in a recent email to its members. “Many members told us they think of 99-seat productions as their ‘gym’ — a valuable space to strengthen their artistic muscles, hone their craft and take on roles they might not otherwise have a chance to play,” wrote Equity executive director Mary McColl. “While there are strong views on all sides, we heard clearly that LA members want the (99-seat) plan to change so that actors’ contributions are more fairly valued.”

Ballots will go out to the union’s members on Wednesday and must be returned by April 17. The full, New York-based Equity Council is expected to make a final decision on April 21.

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The Ol’ SAG Watchdog

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SAG-AFTRA Staff and Members Say Goodbye to Paul Napier!

March 19, 2015 (17:03) | 2014 | By: Arlin Miller

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There was a large turn out today at both the Mass and the Celebration of Life 
of Mr. Napier, including both SAG-AFTRA staff and membership friends, The speakers 
shared warm  remembrances as well as quite a few humorous anecdotes about various 
aspects of his life. One of the funniest was when someone told the story of how he and 
Paul were relative newcomers to Hollywood, and Paul suggested they go to the Oscars. 
The other man remarked how they couldn't do it. Paul showed him. They successfully 
disguised as members of the press from Rochester, NY. It brought the house down. 

Also, There was a uniformed member of the Civil Air Patrol to present his wife, Marie, 
with a U.S. flag for his military service. And there was a lone bagpiper who played "Taps" 
in the church, as well as playing some other pieces at the entrance to the room where 
the Celebration was being held.
I Think it says a lot about the man that the SAG-AFTRA members in attendance included 
those from both sides of the union's political spectrum!
Goodbye and Thank you for your service Old Friend! 

The Ol' SAG Watchdog



The Lambs Present Ken Howard with Honorary Lifetime Membership!

March 16, 2015 (16:51) | 2014 | By: Arlin Miller

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Filed in: Press & Media
The following was released today by The Lambs®

New York – March 9, 2014 — The Lambs, America’s oldest theatrical performing arts social club, today honored SAG-AFTRA president and stage, film and television actor Ken Howard with an honorary lifetime membership.“I am tremendously honored to receive this lifetime membership in The Lambs — an organization that I and other actors revere,” said Howard. “I am personally moved to be counted among such talents as Spencer Tracey, John Wayne and Cliff Robertson, among others. Members of The Lambs were among the founders of the organization I represent and many others fighting for performers’ rights.”Marc Baron, shepherd of The Lambs, said that the organization bestowed the honor in recognition of Howard’s outstanding achievements in stage, television and film, and for his work in protecting performers’ rights as a past president of SAG, as the first elected president of SAG-AFTRA, and as a trustee of The Actors Fund and the SAG Foundation.“Ken is a phenomenal actor and a great union leader. We are thrilled to present him with this membership on behalf of The Lambs,” said Baron, who is also a member of the SAG-AFTRA National Board.

The Lambs is America’s first professional theatrical club, founded in New York in 1874. Lambs have been involved in the founding of The Actors Fund of America, ASCAP, Actors’ Equity, Screen Actors Guild, AFTRA and in the merger of SAG-AFTRA. Often confused with an unrelated restaurant bearing a similar name, The Lambs is located in midtown Manhattan, near Radio City Music Hall and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Howard’s admirable body of work includes his second Emmy in 2009 for his role in HBO’s critically acclaimed Grey Gardens. He appeared in the recurring role of Hank Hooper in NBC’s award-winning primetime series 30 Rock. With over 20 feature films, Howard can currently be seen as Judge Warren in The Judge and in The Wedding Ringer. Ken Howard is a Tony-winning actor (Child’s Play) who has appeared in nearly 40 stage productions since his professional debut on Broadway in 1968. His stage work includes 1776 and Seesaw. Howard also serves on the boards of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, The Actors Fund, and the Onyx and Breezy Foundation for the Welfare of Animals.


After the results of recent contract negotiations there can be little argument that Mr. Howard deserves to be identified as a Lamb.   Of course, the big problem is that he is leading the rest of us lambs to the…uh, well you get the idea!   Baaaah!


The Ol’ SAG Watchdog

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Watchdog Time Machine: The Big Hit 0f 2003! Shhh!

March 13, 2015 (10:16) | 2014 | By: Arlin Miller

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A SAG Watchdog Exclusive: The New Hit Single “Secret Actors Guild!” Get out your hankies. (Click photo to hear song.)

19 April, 2003 (18:51) | 2003, SAG Politics | By: Arlin Mille

There was a time when SAG members had some idea of what their elected officials where up to! Confidentiality was usually only invoked in the board room in cases such as collective bargaining agreements–or in regards to touchy issues that might put board members at risk of retribution from their employers!

Unfortunately that has changed! Now confidentiality is the norm rather than the exception. It is now being used to keep information from the members in cases such as QUALIFIED VOTING! Board members are no longer just protecting themselves from their employers, they are now protecting themselves from the membership!

Our union is indeed becoming THE SECRET ACTORS GUILD!

The SAG Watchdog is proud to offer this exclusive rendition of the new, smash, hit, forty-five single of Conway Puddles “Secret Actors Guild!”

Click the Link below to the original post which will allow you to listen to the song!  Shhh….

* We have furnished the lyrics so that you may sing along.



The singer?  Shhh…that’s a secret!


The Ol’ SAG Watchdog