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.
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.
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.
From: Lisa Lewis [mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org]
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief
*Emails were formatted by SW.