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AFTRA’s Russum Responds SAG President to run for AFTRA Delegate Seat! And AFTRA election has been contested

April 19, 2005 (20:21) | 2005 | By: Arlin Miller

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Have you heard the latest kiddies! Our esteemed president Melissa Gilbert is running for a delegate seat as part of the AFTRA Leadership Team headed by AFTRA Hollywood presidential candidate Ron Morgan!

Yes, Miss Gilbert will be on the same slate as the AFTRA Hollywood presidential candidate Ron Morgan! In response to a query on the SAG Actor Bulletin Board concerning AFTRA’s policy of looking the other way as “some” of its members work non-union work Mr. Morgan responded

“As you know the “No Contract No Work” rule at AFTRA is related to scripted entertainment. AFTRA has used the common practice among Unions of allowing Union member work on non-organized jobs as a way of organizing.”

And NO Mr. Morgan some of us “aren’t in the know” and had NO IDEA that it is okay to do non-union work on non-organized shows. And that’s probably because we are nave enough to believe the back of our AFTRA card, which reads

*Do not work for non-signatory producers.

Yep, our SAG President is part of Mr. Morgan’s Slate! Why am I not surprised? If you’d like to check out the rest of “the in the know” AFTRA Leadership Team you can check it out by accessing the link below in the body of the mail to AFTRA’s Meredith Snow.

To read Mr. Morgan’s complete post go to http://www.sagactor.com/bb/viewtopic.php?p=6671#6671

As I said, the AFTRA election is being contested! AFTRA Delegate candidate Robert Amico sent the following mail to AFTRA’s Meredith Snow.

To: Meredith Snow (AFTRA)

As a Delegate Candidate, I am OFFICIALLY contesting the recent AFTRA Election and its process on TWO Counts:

1) My name has been put on AFTRA Leadership Team Slate (My Political opposition) as being on THEIR Slate…My name is listed on THEIR Website and I am listed as supporting THEIR issues…All this has been done WITHOUT MY PERMISSION and without even discussing this with me. This is erroneous information tainting MY campaign in the election…….


2) I challenge the fact That, in an election, A political Slate can use the Name of the UNION in the name of the slate, for example, in this case: AFTRA LEADERSHIP TEAM…..

It is misleading, to say the least, leading the voter to think that this slate is the official AFTRA Slate and we all know that a Union cannot participate in taking sides in a Union Election…..

TITLE IV – ELECTIONS (29 U.S.C. 481) (Section 401.C) of the “Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959″ states that “Adequate safeguards to insure a fair election shall be provided, including the right of any candidate to have an observer at the polls and at the counting of the ballots.”

Hmmm, know The Ol’ Dog ain’t no Legal Eagle but when the ruling party allows its slate to identify itself as the AFTRA Leadership Team that don’t sound exactly fair. Course, I guess we’ll have to see what the Labor Board says.

A.L. Miller Editor & Chief WOOF !


John Russum, Ex. Director, AFTRA LA Local, responds to AFTRA Delegate Robert Amico’s Election Protest!

Dear Robert —

Your election protest, received via email on May 9, 2005, has been referred to me for a response.

After checking with counsel, the use of the name AFTRA under the circumstances you describe is proper and not a violation of law.

As to the use of your name in connection with a candidate’s campaign slate, be advised that campaign slates are not affiliated with AFTRA in any way and are completely independent of the union. Any complaints with respect to the use of your name should be directed to the slate and its website and not to AFTRA.

Thank you very much.

John Russum
Ex. Director, AFTRA LA Local

Mr. Amico replies:

May 10th, 2005


I totally disagree and believe that to put out in public knowledge, without my permission, the fact that I am on a political slate and or favor the views of THAT slate when it is a bold face lie, affects those who are voting therefore taints the fair and democratic process of the Election and if you tell me that AFTRA washes its hands clean of having to do anything about such including NOT demanding them to take my name off of this website in the name of a Fair election taints YOU as well as AFTRA providing me, as a member and a Candidate, a fair and just election. The proper authorities will be notified as well as the press about how you and AFTRA have violated my rights to a fair election by turning your back on my complaint and NOT acting accordingly.

I did NOT ask for a response from you, I just exercised my RIGHT as a Candidate and a Member to issue AFTRA official notice that I contest the Election. Are YOU saying you & OR AFTRA refuse to accept the fact that I am contesting the election? Are YOU not allowing me to contest the Election?

My good man, AFTRA is responsible for providing the members & candidates with a fair and just election process…your advice to me tells me you refuse to insure such…I find that in violation of the rules governing Unions…My challenge of this election remains and you do not have the right to not accept it. PLEASE put it in the records of THIS election. It is YOUR responsibility to provide me with the ability to contest and I DEMAND to exercise THAT right.

Robert Amico



Exclusive: THEY are at it again SAG Members “wavier” bye-bye to more of your revenue

April 19, 2005 (20:21) | 2005 | By: Arlin Miller

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Thanks to President Melissa Gilbert’s Restore Respect/USAN gang, the same folks who brought you the failed ATA/NATR Conflict of Interest Give-a-way, the Hasbro waiver, the foreign made-in played-in non-union commercial waiver, and the residual giveaway–SAG members can expect another Waiver/Giveaway! This time to the would-be union-busters at Safeway! You remember them! They’re the company that was at the forefront of the grocery workers strike that attempted to crush the UFCW! And they’re the company that our union is supplying the following waiver!

It’s basically a TWO FOR ONE GIVEAWAY!

You appear it TWO SPOTS you get paid FOR ONE!

You got to love the way these “go-along-to-giveaway” guys and gals put the best possible face on their two for one largesse.

“Performerswill receive a session fee for each group of up to two name changes. For example for 7 name changes a performer would receive 4 session fees.”

Ah, by the way, the performer would also only receive 4 session fees for 8 name changes.

Translation: SAG members will receive HALF of what their contract dictates!

Now, besides the obvious financial shortcomings of this waiver, what makes the whole thing so egregious is that they didn’t even bother to tell members about it. You’re supposed to be advised of it “at the time of the audition.”

Hopefully, they will advise the agent to advise you before you show up for the audition to find it posted on the wall.

If not, then I guess you’re supposed to look the Ol’ casting director right in the eye and say “Look, to show my appreciation for calling me in for this audition, I’m ain’t gonna do it because it’s a rip-off!”

Hey now that would definitely put you in good standing with the Ol’ Casting director! Not to mention the good will it would generate with your agent who worked his butt off to get you said audition!

But wait, you say, “I thought our union was supposed to help us avoid just such situations!” Oh, right, but, but, that was before Bob, Melissa, and their “If they try and screw you with a GSA, get a lawyer” attitude that currently prevails at SAG.

Now basically, it’s if WE screw you– and you don’t like itYOU tell them!

Look, if this is such a good deal, why isn’t on the SAG Website? Our new NED, Greg Hessinger, has promised that as NED his priority is “to strive for honesty and transparency in our guild!”

Well, Mr. H here’s your chance! Post this waiver on the SAG website with the reasons why it’s a good deal for SAG members! Oh, and for fairness you might let those who oppose it tell us why it ain’t.

Most folks don’t realize it, I know the Ol’ Dog didn’t until recently, but this ain’t the first time such a little Ol Waiver was given.

Yes, it happened right after the strike. You remember, the one in which we spent 6 MONTHS on the picket line sacrificing to get the damn contract in the first place? At that time there where some of President Bill Daniels’ (Now, Membership First) folks on the SAG/AFTRA Commercials Contract Standing Committee. They fought against it but were out-voted by New York, the branches and AFTRA. (The Phase One Agreement bites us in the ass again)

However, this time the waiver was a piece of cake! And how could it be anything else with nothing but those “go-along-to-giveaway” guys and gals of Restore Respect/USAN and AFTRA at the helm looking out for our best interests?

Look, folks, there’s an election coming up, and the only way you are going to stop the wholesale giveaway of our union, its contracts and clout is to get a president and board members who decide its time to STOP GIVING–AND START GETTING!

In the meantime, we are stuck with the leftovers of President Gilbert and her Restore Respect/USAN party. (No ATA/NATR Agreement, no increase in DVD, and a Phase One partner that continues to poach our contracts.)

Remember if we are going to restore the stature of the Great Screen Actors Guild, we CANNOT WAIVER!

A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief WOOF !



LA ‘Pilots’ flying High! And Vid Skid

April 19, 2005 (20:21) | 2005 | By: Arlin Miller

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A couple of articles that affect all actors! Looks like it has been a good “Pilot Season.” And Vid Skid may point to “More” Premium Product!

May 04, 2005

Pilots inject $300 mil-plus into L.A. area

By Jesse Hiestand

This year’s pilot season generated an estimated $364 million in production spending, 90% of which took place in the Los Angeles area, according to a study to be released today by the regional film office.

The Entertainment Industry Development Corp. surveyed the major studios to gauge the pilot season’s impact, especially in light of incentive programs that are drawing work to New York and other locales.

As a first-ever study, no immediate trends were evident, but EIDC president Steve MacDonald said the robust pilot season helped offset declines in other areas of TV production.

“This has been a very healthy pilot season, and more importantly we were able to figure out just what the economic impact of pilot season is,” MacDonald said. “It’s a huge impact on the area in just a few short months you’re having more than $300 million injected into the economy.”

According to the EIDC, at least 131 pilots were produced during the 2005 production season, which recently has expanded to nearly five months to accommodate the increased demand for original cable programming, an emphasis on midseason replacements instead of reruns and the trend toward year-round original programming.

It was estimated that the average one-hour drama pilot costs $4 million, with a half-hour show costing about half that.

In terms of format, half-hour episodic series accounted for 57% of the work, with hour dramas representing 41%. That translated into more than 90 hours of programming, or about $364 million in total pilot spending.

An estimated 90% of that work took place in Los Angeles, with half of the remainder occurring in New York.

“This is the first television pilot season in which New York has hosted a significant amount of production,” MacDonald said. “It’s clear that aggressive financial incentives are helping drive TV production to New York, as they have driven features to Illinois, Louisiana and New Mexico.”

Overall production in the Los Angeles area, including TV, feature films, commercials and music videos, increased 2% in first-quarter 2005, according to the EIDC. While feature work was up 25% and both commercials and music videos essentially were flat, TV production fell 6% compared to an especially busy period the year before. Still, that was said to be a 100% increase over the 10-year average thanks in part to pilots representing 33% of overall location TV production.


Posted: Tue., May 3, 2005, 4:38pm PT

In regards to pilots

“It was estimated that the average one-hour drama pilot costs $4 million, with a half-hour show costing about half that.”

So, let me get this straight! Thanks to President Gilbert and her Political Pals, series regulars on new series will be giving up three residuals on three shows to help the show succeed! Hmmm

Let’s do the math again! Say a new one-hour drama had a cast of 10 regulars! The residual cap for each member is $3,225. That would add up to $32,500 dollars on a show that cost *money4 MILLION DOLLARS! Oh, yeah, that 32 grand savings is gonna make or break a show! Right!

With a interactive strike-authorization in hand, this story at first glance might seem to be bad news for interactive actors, but not necessarily.

Record revs but lower profits at vidgamer EA

Net income down from $577 mil to $504 mil in 2004


Vidgame giant Electronic Arts reported record revenues for fiscal 2004, but a decline in net income for the year and net revenues for the fourth quarter. Company also said it anticipates a net loss this quarter.

Stock closed up 45 to $52.90, but dropped more than 11% in after-hours trading following news.

Redwood City, Calif.-based EA saw net revenues for the year jump 6% to $3.1 billion, driven by some 31 titles that sold more than a million copies apiece.
Net income, though, was down from $577 million in fiscal 2003 to $504 million in 2004.

The year’s final quarter, which ended March 31, saw net revenues decline from $598 million to $553 million year-on-year. Company blamed the drop on lower margins and higher operating costs.

First-quarter revenues are expected to be between $300 million and $340 million, down sharply from last year’s $432 million. As a result, company predicts a net loss per share between 22 and 28, compared with profit of 8 a share last year.

In reporting the results, company toppers noted an industrywide trend toward falling software prices but insisted top titles, such as “Madden NFL Football” and the Sims franchise are likely to hold the line on price.

Chairman and CEO Larry Probst told analysts,

“Premium products will continue to command premium prices.”

Probst and chief financial and administrative officer Warren Jenson said the company is investing for long-term growth and expects to see a shift toward mobile gaming and online play.

Online gaming, he said, will mean more deferred income in future reports, but that should not dent the bottom line.

Looking ahead, Jenson said net revenue for 2006 is expected to be between $3.4 billion and $3.5 billion, up 9%-12% year-on-year.

With the absorption of Criterion Software, Jenson said the company will consider further acquisitions over the next year.

“We’re not in any hurry,” Jenson added, “but we believe there will be opportunities, and we expect to be active participants.

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The Ol’ Dog found this quote in the article of interest. Chairman and CEO Larry Probst told analysts,

“Premium products will continue to command premium prices.”

Ah, so, they’re aware that premium product is of premium importance. And, of course, premium product requires premium performanceand we all know that requires premium SAG/AFTRA performers!

Go get ‘em guys!

A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief WOOF !



Watchdog Cartoon Of The Week!

April 19, 2005 (20:21) | 2005 | By: Arlin Miller

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Hessinger on the job

April 19, 2005 (20:21) | 2005 | By: Arlin Miller

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Posted: Sun., May 1, 2005, 3:26pm PT

Hessinger on the job

AFTRA vet gets SAG card


HOLLYWOOD — Screen Actors Guild’s last CEO, Bob Pisano, started his new job on Sept. 10, 2001.
Today, AFTRA’s outgoing topper, Greg Hessinger, officially assumes Pisano’s old office.
Privately, Pisano would sometimes refer to this inauspicious start date with a wry look and a heavy sigh, as if it alone explained everything you needed to know about his bumpy 3 years at SAG: Nobody could have known it at the time, but his tenure turned out to be somewhat cursed from the start.
In fact, Hessinger faces many of the same problems, Pisano faced, but with what’s likely to be a much shorter honeymoon period than Pisano’s.

SAG watchers believe the key factor in how Hessinger’s tenure plays out will be the September elections for officers and board members. Allies of current prexy Melissa Gilbert — who advocates a pragmatic course — control the board room, but have seen their majority erode in the two most recent elections to the Membership First faction, which advocates a more aggressive stance.

Formidable challenge

No presidential candidates have been announced yet, but Gilbert would represent a formidable incumbent, given that she’s won two two-year terms as president. The election will likely turn on such divisive issues as SAG’s inability to boost DVD residuals in its most recent film-TV contract.
Hessinger is inheriting a union whose interactive contract with vidgame companies is on its third extension, and whose membership has OK’d a strike authorization. If the union doesn’t get meaningful gains in pay or make progress on residuals, things could quickly get hairy.

Hessinger’s also taking the reins of a union that allowed its oversight of the major talent agencies to lapse three years ago, when members refused to approve a Pisano-backed revision of SAG’s Master Franchise Agreement. He’s also overseeing a guild that narrowly refused a dues increase last year and a merger with sister union the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists two years ago.
Hessinger headed AFTRA for five years; he campaigned for the 2003 merger with SAG. In the wake of the defeat of that effort, he spearheaded a cost-cutting effort at AFTRA.

Gilbert and her board allies handpicked Hessinger as Pisano’s successor — a move that generated opposition among the anti-Pisano and anti-merger factions of the board. But the votes against Hessinger weren’t so much an expression of opposition to Hessinger as they were dissatisfaction with the secrecy of the process, one board member explained.

Merge purge

Hessinger’s initial entry into SAG has been helped by the positive impressions he’s generated from his handling much of the film-TV contract negotiations last winter and from his pledges of honesty and transparency at last month’s SAG membership meeting in Beverly Hills. During that event, he was vague when pressed about the possibility of another run at merging with AFTRA — an indication that many months are likely to pass before the divisive issue is pushed again.

As long as Hessinger doesn’t start out pushing a merger, he’s likely to operate in a far less hostile environment than Pisano did. During the last year of Pisano’s tenure, conflict-of-interest allegations stemming from Pisano’s post on the board of Netflix poisoned what was already a rocky relationship with the board.

SAG conducted internal and external reviews by counsel and in all cases found no conflict; last December, a federal judge threw out a conflict-of-interest suit calling for the removal of Pisano as the union’s chief negotiator.

Nevertheless, the hostility led to three attempts by the Membership First faction of SAG to oust Pisano as lead negotiator. The inability of SAG to achieve any major advancement on DVD residuals in the new film-TV contract (mirroring the new Directors Guild and Writers Guild contracts last fall) may have been what prompted 23% of SAG members to vote against ratifying the pact.

Manageable baggage

Hessinger, 39, comes into the post sans major baggage. He provoked some grumbling during the run-up to the merger vote, as AFTRA devoted resources to competing with SAG for contracts on shows shot on digital, even though AFTRA has been unable to organize much of cable TV.

Calling Hessinger an “expert who can hit the ground running,” SAG secretary-treasurer James Cromwell said he hoped that “healing could begin so we can get on to the real work of this union.”

However, Cromwell also cautioned that “if Greg Hessinger is asked to do the bidding of the Hollywood board rather than what he believes is in the best interest of the membership as a whole, then we will have a repeat of the Pisano fiasco — for no reason at all.”

Hessinger, who carries a reputation for remaining unflappable, joined AFTRA as assistant national director for news/broadcast in 1998, then succeeded Bruce York as national exec director two years later amid the SAG/AFTRA strike against advertisers.

Read the full article at:

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