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Tale Of Two Emails: One From Headquarters! The Other from Hell!

April 19, 2005 (20:23) | 2005, SAG Politics | By: Arlin Miller

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The Ol’ Watchdog received emails from two SAG political players. One was from new SAG President Alan Rosenberg in an email from Headquarters. The other was from ex SAG Restore Respect board member and disgruntled dissident Mike Farrell.

One showed class. The other showed a lack of Class.

One was rational while taking a first step toward unity.

The other Demonic, derisive and divisive. *devil

Each is indicative of the mind-set and character of the two different SAG political parties, Membership First and Restore Respect. .

First the email from the leader of the Membership First SAG board majority, and our New President Alan Rosenberg.











A LETTER TO ALL SCREEN ACTORS GUILD MEMBERS


October 28, 2005

Dear Member:

This past weekend, I had the privilege to preside over my first national board meeting as your president. As I met with your elected leaders from Hollywood, New York and our regional branches, I felt prouder than ever to be a part of this storied and magnificent union of actors. As working performers, we share a simple and powerful goal: to improve and protect our wages and working conditions. The experience of this board meeting made me realize, yet again, how much we can accomplish on behalf of all our members by working together in common purpose.

We accomplished a great deal during this two-day meeting. We dealt with issues concerning the pension and health plans, runaway production and discussed the preparations for several important, upcoming contract negotiations, among much more. We also made a particularly difficult choice regarding our staff leadership in deciding to part ways with our national executive director, Greg Hessinger.

Making a change like this is never an easy decision, and this one was no different. Greg is an able and talented executive, and a committed unionist. But many members of your national board felt strongly that we needed a fresh start – a national executive director with new energy and new thinking who is fully committed to the priorities of your new leadership team, particularly with regard to our tougher approach to collective bargaining. The board will soon begin the search for a permanent replacement. It is my promise that this process will include representatives from each of our three divisions, and we will work until we find a candidate who meets the needs of all our members.

Rarely are difficult decisions unanimous and it is important to note that there were some who disagreed with this decision. As someone who has spent much of my life fighting for causes in which I believe, I have the greatest respect for those who express an opposing viewpoint and for the rights of the minority. I take great pride in the fact that this question was addressed through the fair and democratic process that represents the very best of our union. Our strength is, as it always has been, in that process and our unity. We will now move forward together, in that spirit and with our collective strength, as we have time and time again.
I would like to close by reiterating how honored I am that so many of you have placed your confidence in me to lead this great union. In my campaign I offered a simple and straightforward promise that I pledge to fulfill now as your president: to fight like hell to get actors their fair share and ensure Screen Actors Guild remains the great and powerful organization it always has been.

I look forward to accomplishing these goals together, in solidarity.

Alan Rosenberg
President
Screen Actors Guild

WOOF ! Thank you, Mr. Rosenberg for showing real class. At the other end of the spectrum, here’s the email from ex SAG Board Member and 1st VP Mike Farrell. The Ol Dog has included a few comments to shoot down the email’s distortion and lies. Well, actually several comments! It would be impossible to shoot them all down with a few comments.

The following email was forwarded by former Chicago SAG branch and USAN supporter, Lisa Lewis! Lisa liked it! Which tells you all you need to know about her.

—–Original Message—–
From: Lisa Lewis [mailto: risaroo@earthlink.net]
Sent: Friday, October 28, 2005 8:03 AM
To: Lisa Lewis
Subject: A Letter From MIke Farrell – READ AND PASS ALONG
Nobody has said it better. Forward at will.

Lisa
*********************************

From Mike Farrell:


“I’m not happy to send this message. You may recall one I sent in August during the SAG election campaign, quoting then-candidate Alan Rosenberg from a trade paper article threatening, if elected, to fire Greg Hessinger, SAG’s National Executive Director and CEO. A few days later, after receiving an angry phone call from Alan claiming he had not made any such statement and that I had defamed his character in quoting the article, I thought it fair to report his call and acknowledge that people are sometimes misquoted in the press.

In the call, Alan said he had apologized to Greg for any discomfort this misunderstanding had caused, that he not only had no intention of firing him but in fact looked forward to working with him, an assertion he repeated in subsequent press interviews and in open declarations to concerned members.

WOOF ! Mr. Farrell, as usual, conveniently overlooks what happened between Alan’s statement and Hessinger’s firing! After the clandestine hiring of his two AFTRA cronies to multiyear contracts, Hessinger openly defied the SAG president and Board majority by then unilaterally hiring as SAG Executive Director of Commercials JoAnne Kesslerformer co-chair of the JPC Negotiating Committee! She was the one who sent out a letter telling producers how easy it was to hire scabs during the 2000 commercial strike.

Well, as you know if you’ve been reading the papers, Alan was elected along with a sufficient number of his Membership First (MF) supporters to gain control of SAG’s National Board. The new board’s first national meeting was held last weekend (Oct. 22 & 23) and despite the angry calls and insistent claims, despite having worked guilelessly alongside Greg in preparing for the meeting, once everyone was in place they moved into executive session, which requires that all SAG staff leave. Then, with SAG’s general counsel conveniently excluded and Alan comfortably presiding, the MFs brought in an outside lawyer with whom they had clearly prepared the entire scenario and fired Greg Hessinger and three people he had recently hired. (The hotly denied use of the term “hired help” rushes back to mind.)

WOOF ! Actually, what rushes to mind is malicious misinformation. Mr. Farrell can not even take the time to get the most basic facts correct. Per their right under the SAG Constitution, Mr. Rosenberg and the Membership First Board Majority did indeed bring in outside counsel. Only it wasn’t AN outside lawyer–it was TWO OUTSIDE LAWYERS. And contrary to Farrell’s bogus insinuation, SAG Counsel Bob Bush who was consulting with USAN board members all day Saturday, was himself invited back into the room Sunday Morning when the outside counsel was brought into the room.


This execution was committed over the outraged opposition of board members from New York and the Regional Branch Division, with the MF crowd, to a person, gleefully wielding its new-found clout as the majority in control.

WOOF ! You get the idea this guy is obsessed with “executions?” And his characterization of it being a gleeful occasion is a murderous distortion of fact. There was no glee in the room and Mr. Hessinger was treated with the utmost of respect. Just as he was treated in the above email by President Rosenberg! You know what’s really telling here is that Mike and his Restore Respect/USAN chums are all in an uproar because their million dollar executive was fired–but they’ve never said, or seemed to care a damn bit when Pisano fired 145 staff members with nothing more than a curt goodbye, and a “don’t bother to return to your computer because it has been shutdown.” Of course then, they were only the little guys and gals that do most of the work for the membership, not overpriced executives with multi-year contracts.

Greg’s contract, you should know, includes a penalty payment of the rest of his contractual salary (well over $1 million) in the event he is let go against his will. But part of the gambit by the MFs and their lawyer was a claim they had found a legal way to avoid having to pay the contractually agreed penalty.


WOOF ! Mike should know about the penalty payment in Greg’s FOUR YEAR CONTRACT. He and his Restore Respect/USAN pals help put it there. As to outside counsels’ gambit to find a legal way avoid spending our dues money to clean up his crowds’ mess: it’s called labor law! And it was enacted to stop just such a maneuver as perpetrated on our membership by Mike Farrell and his crowd. A maneuver to project their will on the new board! A board, which they knew most likely would no longer be controlled by them. They saddle us with Pisano’s guy AFTRA’s Greg Hessingerand then he saddles us with his guys and their multi-year contracts. The ultimate goal bailing out AFTRA with a merger, and a union run by the “go-along-to-get-alongs.”

As a National Board member for the four years ending with September’s election and SAG’s First Vice President for three of them, I wish I could say I was astonished at the duplicity in this turn of events. But having suffered through four painful years of dishonesty, intrigue, manipulation and underhanded political machinations in pursuit of power by these people when they were in the minority, I’m not.

WOOF ! Duplicity is subject with which Mike Farrell is definitely an expert. He and his gang have plenty of experience in its use. They, after all, used it in the early extension of Pisano’s contract, the ten year extension of SAG’s 28 million dollar lease at 5757, and the penalty-payment FOUR YEAR backroom deal they made with Greg Hessinger! Now, if as stated Mike has suffered through four painful years of dishonesty, intrigue, manipulation and underhanded political machinations, there can be only one explanation. HE HAS A GUILT COMPLEX!

What does amaze me is the Bush-Administration-like arrogance that allows them to so casually ignore the constraints imposed by conventional decency, pervert any notion of honor and carry on smiling, as if convinced their perfidy is completely justified by having achieved the power they have so passionately and single-mindedly sought.

WOOF ! Hmmm, remove the word Bush and insert Gilbert and the sentence would be a perfect fit. It seems a tad ironic to the Ol’ Dog that the likes of Mike Farrell can go on TV and admonish the current administration for it’s failure to let the people know both sides an issue while at the same time vote against the members of his own union getting a Minority Report. But as we have all learned consistency is not Mr. Farrell’s Strong suit! Speaking of suits, his guy Hessinger has hired Pisano’s attorney, Bert Fields! Boy theres a shocker! You beginning to see a pattern here, folks?


Needless to say, I find myself concerned at having this crew in charge. Maybe it makes no difference and we can go about our business as members of the Guild and hope for a soft landing. Maybe.




WOOF ! Hey, Mike that should be easy for you! After all, by your own admission, that’s what you did during the entire 2000 strike. And hell, you didn’t even have a terminally ill dog.

I have no way to know if our new president is simply a liar and a hypocrite or if this development was just one of those stranger-than-fiction coincidences. The possibility exists, of course, that he was gulled by those around him and is now deciding whether to continue as their Charlie McCarthy.



WOOF ! Actually the only McCarthy that came to mind while reading Mike’s self-serving, vindictive email with its lies and distortions was Joe McCarthy.

What concerns me is that a crowd I’ve come to know as angry, small-minded people, some frustrated at their lack of success, some bitter at a once-promising career lost, some evidently still at the effect of an unresolved childhood hurt and some simply unknowing believers caught up in the parade, are running our union, crowing at their success and determining the course of our future.

WOOF ! And this is the guy that has accused his opponents of name calling. You get the feeling that Dr. Mike might be projecting his own traits onto others?

That the ruinous commercials strike of 2000, which dragged on unnecessarily for six months thanks to some of these same MFs, continues to be regarded proudly, worries me for the future. Their strident and stupid – attempt to turn the recent electronic games negotiation into a strike underscores the concern.

WOOF ! Actually one reason the strike dragged on is because guys like Farrell and gals like Melissa never showed up to support their union. Of course, if he had bothered to show, he would know that the strike was voted for overwhelmingly by the membership and unanimously by the 220 joint AFTRA/SAG board. He would also know that the 26 member negotiating team, only seven of which have any relationship to Membership First, voted unanimously to go on strike, stay on strike, and were virtually unanimous to end the strike. As to it being unsuccessful, not only did it stave off a cutback in Class A spots, but achieved an unprecedented 140% increase in cable residuals from $1040 per cycle maximum to $2460 maximum. Hey, to Mr. Mike, success, is a 2.5% increase in minimums, the lowest in SAG History. But then, you folks didn’t know that we live in a 2% world, at least according Mike’s gang during the negotiations.

And, sadly, those of us lucky enough to have an agent may soon have a decision to make. Because this same group torpedoed the renewal of the Agent’s Franchise Agreement, all of the major agencies no longer have a contractual relationship with SAG.

If, as is their stated desire, the MFs now reinstate the constitutional provision requiring all members to be represented by a franchised agent, we will be asked to choose between our agents and our union.

WOOF ! Of course, the reason we don’t have a deal with the ATA/NATR is because after the membership spoke on this issue, Mike and his cowering crowd refused to protect them by enforcing 16 A of our Codified Agency Relations Agreement. As to members having to choose between their agents and their union! More Restore Respect/USAN B.S. That’s why we have a union in the first place! It makes those kind of decisions so that WE don’t have to act independently, but rather collectively. Hmmm, maybe that’s why Mike didn’t show up during the strike. He was pissed, because he didn’t like being put in the position were he had to choose between his employer and his union.

So, as said, I’m not happy. We’re now going forward with a group in control that has broadcast to the industry through its devious ousting of Hessinger, whose sole failing is his penchant for honesty, something they obviously can’t abide, that SAG no longer feels bound to honor contracts. Do you think the producers are listening?

WOOF ! You gotta love this guy. Hey tries to bind us to a bogus contract that circumvents not only labor law but our SAG constitution then tries to lay the blame on others with his bound to honor contracts. Then has the audacity to say “Do you think the producers are listening?” I don’t know Mike, but if they are THEY ARE LAUGHING! :D

Hello, this is Hollywood!

I know the debates have been loud, unpleasant and rather complicated in recent years, but more often than not those very complications were created by a concerted campaign of lie, half-truth and innuendo, the purpose of which was to confuse the members and destroy confidence in the leadership. It succeeded. It created what appeared to many to be a nasty feud between factions and resulted in a ‘pox on both your houses’ attitude. Members paid attention to their careers and chose not to get involved nor even to vote and the result is what we have today. The loudest, meanest, most strident voices won. And I fear the union we’ve been so proud to be part of has lost.

WOOF ! Actually, Mike, The loudest, meanest, most strident voices LOST, i.e your email and the election returns! Oh, and by the by, your timeline is a tad off, Mike. It’s what we’ve had for the last four years. Not what we have today. And guys like you with their ranting, distortions, lies and name calling are done. And if you don’t know why, try reading your own email.


Mike Farrell”



WOOF ! A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief

*Emails were formatted by SW.

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Watchdog Exclusive: High Noon at Plenary: How SAG’s Top Gun got Fired

April 19, 2005 (20:23) | 2005, SAG Politics | By: Arlin Miller

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Well, Buckaroos, the clock was ticking, it was Saturday morning in the luxurious Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica where rooms start at $250 bucks a night. (You don’t want to know where they finish.)And a Showdown was about to take place.

Anyway, presumably, all our USAN New York and branch board of directors where well rested from an evening of sumptuous meals and drink in the Grille or Koi Pound lounge followed by a snooze in their high priced comfy lodgings.

Some who had over imbued on our dime, most probably had a Jacuzzi or a Shiatsu Massage before hitting the meeting–and being rubbed the wrong way.

Ah, yes, nothing like attending to the Membership’s business. It’s good to be a New York or Branch Board member, especially when venturing to what they have described in their propaganda as the land of the Hollywood Extremists.

So, there they were as newly elected SAG President Alan Rosenberg began the meeting. When he mentioned NED Greg Hessinger’s name, many were probably trying to remember the words to Happy Birthday but alas it was not to be. Mr. Rosenberg was not in a singing mood. At least not the same Ol’ “go-along-to-get-along” tune that they were used to hearing and humming.

The new President very carefully laid out his reasons for why Mr. Hessinger must go, including his recent hidden hiring’s, most notably JoAnne Kessler who had been at the forefront for the other side during the bitter 2000 commercial Strike.

As to his newly hired hands, Greg had boldly stated, fire them–and you’ll have to fire me. Big Mistake!

Since, the subject at hand was the firing of an employee, the meeting went into executive session. The staff was asked to leave the room before debate began.

Now when Restore Respect dropped bombshells on the Membership First minority. Madame President Gilbert usually limited debate to the extent that it was nothing more than a dog and pony show.

For instance when they ambushed Membership First by unexpectedly announcing that they were renewing Pisano’s contract several months before it was due to expire, Melissa allowed only 30 minutes for discussion.

On another occasion when, without prior warning, Pisano and crew dropped the Bombshell that they had signed a new ten year lease for a tidy 28 Million dollars, debate was limited to one pro and one con statement. And our “always say die” Restore Respect/USAN board members voted for the damn thing without even seeing it.

At Lie Central, the USAN website, in regards to the Hessinger matter, they falsely proclaim

“no other pressing Guild business was acted on, as Membership First hijacked the agenda and sent all staff out of the boardroom for most of the weekend-long meeting.”

What they fail to mention is that the reason most of the staff was out of the room for so long, is because, unlike Melissa, our new SAG President Rosenberg did not limit debate to a few minutes, but rather let them vent–and they went on, and on, and on, ad nauseum.

Oh, and you know how they accuse their opponents of yelling and screaming. Well, they showed their true character when they couldn’t get their way.

They were allowed one full day to throw their temper tantrum, and they wanted to continue into the next day!

Finally, on Sunday Morning at TEN AM, Alan closed debate and the board voted to oust Hessinger with severance to the end of the year.

So, what did our USAN stalwarts then do, they all left the room in protest. We assume it was in protest. Perhaps, in a childish fit, they just went to the bathroom to hold their breath.

To the branch board members credit, after coming to their senses, they and two New York USAN board members returned to the room to fulfill their obligation, and conduct the Memberships business!

By the way when they finally decided to put the membership first, putting aside their petty differences by leaving behind their pouting New York pals, and returning to the room, they were given a standing ovation by the Membership First board members all of whom, along with Morgan Fairchild, had stayed in the room.

Oh, yeah, they also gave the staff a standing “O” when they returned.

Paul Christi and all but two of his USAN New York cohorts stayed out and pouted, never to return.

Later, after the announcement of Mr. Hessinger’s dismissal, their mantra voiced in the press by USAN leader and SAG New York Vice President Paul Christie went like this

“I find it absolutely ironic that an organization that is set up to protect the contracts of its members would make a decision to turn around and declare null and void the contract it signed with its employee.”

Hey, Paul, partner, how about your contract with the membership that you, and your USAN pals, declared null and void when you walked out nearly a full day early on your obligation to them! You, and your fellow sulkers, took the goodies paid for by the memberships’ dues money, but when it came time to fulfill your obligation to them you dishonored your contract and went crying back to

Here’s a thought, since you cut out on the membership the last day, how about reimbursing them for failure of you and your New York USAN gang to fulfill your contract!

How’s this for a constitutional amendment? When board members who are flown to, and put up for, a plenary, walk out on their obligation to the membership, they are obliged to reimburse them. You think that might put an end to the childlike behavior demonstrated by Mr. Christi and most of his fellow USAN board members at the last plenary?

Oh, by the way, while we’re at it let’s shoot down another tidbit from the “Lie Central” Hombres that USAN board members were bushwacked and denied legal counsel.

As a matter of fact, they were seen all day Saturday Caucusing with SAG Attorney Bob Bush. Mr. Bush was even allowed back in the room Sunday Morning when the outside legal Counsel hired by the Membership First leadership was in the room.

And while we’re at it, Lie Central claims that no pressing business was conducted. First of all how would they know? THEY WALKED OUT!

They weren’t in the room when the board unanimously voted to support FTAC, or when Committee chairs were seated. In fact the agenda was completed. Every item was dealt with in one manner or another with the exception of one.

The only thing that was bypassed was a report from the ex NED/CEO.

Oh, well! In fairness to Mr. Hessinger perhaps they should have adjourned to the piano bar, and Mr. “H” and his supporters could have done a verse of “The Party’s Over.”

A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief WOOF !

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New SAG Board takes Aggressive Action to STOP Runaway Production.

April 19, 2005 (20:23) | 2005, SAG Politics | By: Arlin Miller

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Fulfilling one of their Campaign Promises, The New SAG leadership has taken Aggressive Action to stop Runaway Production.

Contrary to the mad ravings from “Lie Central,” (The USAN Website) pressing Guild business was acted upon during the recent plenary!

The new board under the leadership of President Alan Rosenberg and Membership First have led the way to an endorsement of FTAC’s 301(a) petition in an effort to stop Runaway Production.

October 25, 2005

It was moved and seconded to approve that the National Board support FTAC and its 301(a) petition by adding Screen Actors Guild to the list of names of unions and cities who have already given their support of both FTAC and its 301(a) petition, which asks that the U.S. trade representatives investigate the Canadian subsidies for a possible violation of the trade agreements Canada already signed with the U.S.

Approved Unanimously

Posted: Wed., Oct. 26, 2005, 10:00pm PT

SAG looks to law on runaway prod’n

Guild vote likely to heat up the issue

By DAVE MCNARY

The Screen Actors Guild’s leaders have endorsed an investigation into the legality of foreign government film and TV subsidies designed to attract American productions.

At the recent plenary session, SAG’s national board voted unanimously to endorse such a move, along with contributing $10,000 to a report on runaway production by the Center for Entertainment Industry Data & Research.

Guild had no official comment Wednesday on the action. But the SAG vote — which represents an official endorsement by the guild’s 100,000 members — is likely to heat up the issue of how to deal effectively with runaway production.

The investigation has been the brainchild of the seven-year-old Film & Television Action Committee, an org of below-the-line workers. FTAC has spent most of its energy on prepping a North American Free Trade Agreement Section 301(a) petition asking the U.S. trade representative to initiate negotiations with Canada to remove its subsidies, backed by the threat of intervention of the World Trade Organization, as the most effective way of putting the brakes on productions fleeing to less-expensive locations outside the U.S.

Orgs such as the Motion Picture Assn. of America, the American Film Marketing Assn., Directors Guild of America, Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and American Federation of Television & Radio Artists have long contended that such a strategy could backfire by leading to a trade war and further loss of jobs.

In 2001 SAG’s national board endorsed FTAC’s original strategy of pushing for countervailing tariffs against U.S. producers using foreign subsidies — much to the consternation of the Hollywood establishment. FTAC filed a petition seeking that remedy with the feds that year but later withdrew it in favor of the 301 (a) petition.
Earlier this month, FTAC convinced the West Hollywood City Council to endorse the campaign for the 301(a) petition. And in June, the Intl.

Cinematographers Guild, which operates as IATSE Local 600, reversed its policy for the union after a slate headed by president Gary Dunham won several other offices and board seats upon campaigning on a platform of taking a more aggressive stance on runaway production.

The Center for Entertainment Industry Data and Research was formed several years ago by Mark A. Rosenthal, president of Raleigh Enterprises, and Academy Award winner Stephen Katz to track production data from around the world.

Read the full article at:
http://www.variety.com/story.asp?l=story&a=VR1117931749&c=1279

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You gotta love the following reasoning for not investigating the legality of foreign government film and TV subsidies designed to attract American productions.

“Orgs such as the Motion Picture Assn. of America, the American Film Marketing Assn., Directors Guild of America, Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and American Federation of Television & Radio Artists have long contended that such a strategy could backfire by leading to a trade war and further loss of jobs.”

:D

Hmmm, so we allow possible illegal subsidies and trade violations by Canada and other countries because if we bother to stand up for our rights it could backfire and lead to a trade war and further loss of jobs.

Huh?

You mean Canada might stop the onslaught of movies they have been filming in the US?

Hello?

A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief WOOF !

Look, the bottom line is that producers don’t want to stop illegal subsides *money as long as they benefit them! And now that the “go-along-to-get-alongs” are losing favor, perhaps, the rules will now be enforced. After four years it looks like SAG is going to once again start to act like what it is. The Most Powerful Actors Union in the World.

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Shocking Photo: Dissidents react to Hessinger Firing!

April 19, 2005 (20:23) | 2005, SAG Politics | By: Arlin Miller

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You’ve read their name calling in the press. Now the Ol’ Watchdog has obtained this shocking exclusive photo! It was apparently taken after Sunday’s plenary. And shows a small faction of craven, misanthropic dissidents reacting to the news that things didn’t go their way during the proceedings.




A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief WOOF !

PS, The Ol’ Dog is not sure who they are working-over in the photo, but apparently it was an innocent bystander-member who they accused of showing some backbone!

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SAG’s Chief Financial Officer Peter Frank, Interim NED. Also, Board decides NOT TO PAYOFF remaining 3 and half years of Hessinger’s Contract! Hessinger responds

April 19, 2005 (20:23) | 2005, SAG Politics | By: Arlin Miller

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Posted: Sun., Oct. 23, 2005, 7:17pm PT

Thesps gone wild

SAG ousters open door to major melee

By DAVE MCNARY

In a stunning move underscoring Hollywood’s labor uncertainty, a split SAG national board has fired national exec director Greg Hessinger.

Sunday morning’s vote at the Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica came less than a month after control of SAG’s 69-member national board shifted by a narrow margin to the more assertive Membership First faction headed by president Alan Rosenberg.

SAG’s board tapped chief financial officer Peter Frank as Hessinger’s interim replacement and announced it had created a committee to search for a permanent CEO.

“The recent election made clear that our membership expects concrete results, particularly in our collective bargaining and our nationwide organizing efforts,” said Rosenberg in a statement issued at the end of the two-day meeting. “After much consideration and debate, the national board has decided to make a change in our staff leadership that will allow us to focus our resources more intensely in these areas. We have great respect for Greg and are grateful to him for his service to the guild. We wish him well.”

Sunday’s voting followed usual party lines as reps from Hollywood were nearly unanimous in backing the firing while those repping New York and the regional branches opposed it.

Spurring the dismissal were Hessinger’s recent moves to hire former AFTRA execs Rebecca Rhine and John Russum plus former ad industry exec JoAnne Kessler without consulting Rosenberg or the national board.
“Those hirings were the last straw,” one insider said.

Although SAG had no official comment, several insiders said the board also fired Rhine, Russum and Kessler on Sunday.

The board also decided it would not pay Hessinger the $1.4 million he’s owed for the remaining 3 years on his contract. That prompted Hessinger to issue a statement Sunday threatening legal action if the board doesn’t adhere to the contract.
According to non-SAG sources, Rosenberg and his allies have asserted that federal labor law provides that the right of elected union leaders to hire execs gives those leaders rights over the terms of previously negotiated employment contracts.
Hessinger has contended that his contract gave him the right to hire execs without approval of the national board — just as Bob Pisano had during his turbulent three years as SAG chief exec.
Dual message

By canning Hessinger, who succeeded Pisano in May after five years as AFTRA’s national exec director, Rosenberg and his allies are sending a dual message: SAG’s leaders are adamantly opposed to a merger with AFTRA, and they plan to take a far more confrontational stance with employers in negotiations and in organizing non-union work.
SAG’s board also split along factional lines in March when Hessinger was hired at a time when the moderate wing, led by former president Melissa

Gilbert, had control of the board. And the board agreed at that point to pay Pisano — who was recently named president of the Motion Picture Assn. of America — about $1 million he was owed under the terms of his contract.

Membership First often clashed with others over Pisano’s approach to negotiations, with Gilbert’s allies asserting that Pisano was opting for the most pragmatic course.

Hessinger’s firing also is certain to add turbulence to an already volatile labor outlook for studios and nets. It comes on the heels of a massive shift at the WGA West, where Patric Verrone’s Writers United faction took control last month amid pledges of being significantly tougher with employers and then fired longtime exec director John McLean.
Rosenberg had indicated on the day after McLean was cut loose that he had no plans to ask the SAG board to replace Hessinger, stating at the time, “I have a great deal of respect for Greg and I look forward to working closely with him in his capacity as executive director of our union.”

Rosenberg, who beat Morgan Fairchild and Robert Conrad for the presidency, had appeared to be striving to present an image of working cordially with Hessinger in the weeks leading up to Saturday’s start of the national board meeting. However, Hessinger had clashed with Membership First members soon after coming aboard last spring over recommending approval of a new interactive games contract without residuals.

Bad blood

Hessinger, who turns 40 today, also brought historical baggage with him for having been a strong advocate of merging SAG and AFTRA in 2003 — a combination that was narrowly defeated by SAG members over concerns that the guild would lose its identity and that there could be difficulties in merging the SAG and AFTRA health and pension funds. Had the merger gone through, Hessinger was in line to succeed Pisano as top exec of the new union.
In addition, Hessinger provoked resentment in the aftermath of the six-month commercials strike in 2000 when AFTRA insisted it would pay only 11% of the strike costs — in accordance with its earnings on that contract. SAG leaders at the time asserted that AFTRA ought to pay half the costs since it had equal representation at the bargaining table.
Hessinger had relocated from New York to Los Angeles when he accepted the SAG job. In his statement Sunday, Hessinger said he had taken the job with a commitment to work on behalf of guild members “and was honored to do so.”

In turn, the SAG national board “made a contractual commitment to me,” he said. “While the board may have the right to choose its own chief executive, that right does not include the ability to repudiate a legally binding contract entered into in good faith. SAG members who depend on the enforcement of their own contractual protections for their very livelihood should understand the sanctity of a contract. If their elected leaders choose to do so,

I will take all steps necessary to enforce my rights.”

Prior to becoming SAG’s interim CEO on Sunday, Frank had served nearly two years as the guild’s CFO and deputy national exec director for finance and administration.

A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief WOOF !

The Ol’ Dog ain’t worried about Greg filing a suit against SAG. After all, we all know how he, Melissa and their USAN/Restore Respect pals bad mouth anyone that litigates against SAG.

B) By the way, Melissa was seen in a private pow-wow with Greg after the proceeding…hey, that’s it, I bet she was trying to dissuade him from suing SAG! Way to go Half-Pint! *kiss

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