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Big Rally, Wednesday (3/18/09) at CBS Television City at Fairfax. 11:AM-200PM

March 15, 2009 (19:10) | 2009, SAG Politics | By: Arlin Miller

See ya there The End of Class “A.” … and AFTRA is having Extra Casting problems in San Francisco. First this message from Scott Wilson:

There will be a Rally at CBS Studios on Fairfax between Beverly and Third on Wednesday, March 18, 2009 at 11am – 2 pm. Parking at the Farmers Market or the Grove.

Les Moonves, CEO of CBS has called for an end to residuals. His network spent $1.8 billion to purchase C-Net to have a home for Internet streaming. The end of residuals is underway.

We must fight to defend our residuals, pensions, health care and SAG agents. Vote NO on the contract.

Scott Wilson
Henry Kingi

Well, kiddies it looks like the End of Class “A!” You remember Class “A” one of the main reasons we struck in 2000. Well, Our AFTRA First SAG negotiating team is apparently ready to give up the pay per play system and replace it with a system where, basically, your pay will be determined by ratings.

This story from Variety.

Ad industry reveals SAG/AFTRA deals
Initial proposal calls for revamping system

By DAVE MCNARY

With its contract talks with SAG and AFTRA in a news blackout, the ad industry has unveiled outlines of the contract proposals — revealing that the two sides were far apart at the start of negotiations two weeks ago.

WOOF ! Let’s see if the Ol’ Dog has got this straight, there’s news blackout on the contract talks, and the industry has reveled details of the contract proposals. Well, at least now we know we can trust them. Ah, right.

Varitey: Key demand for the actors is a 6% annual salary hike over three years in all categories including adjustments, allowances and expense reimbursement.

WOOF ! Wow! 6 % annual salary hike over the next the next three years. Hmmmbest think like the Ol’ Trout here. When that big old fly, sammon egg, or juicy worm comes floating by, and it looks too good to be true, chances are it is too good to be true. Yep, it’s what is called a lure, and if you go for it. You’re hooked.

Varitey: The initial proposal from advertisers called for a structural revamp of the compensation system based on gross rating points rather than the traditional pay-per-play method.

WOOF ! Gross being the operative word here. Say, bye, bye to Class “A” pay per play commericals. Okay, let’s follow the bouncing ball.

Varitey: Under the proposal, thesps would continue to receive about $900 million in annual pay — “current aggregate compensation levels intact” is how the ad biz negotiators described it — but the allocations would be shifted to reflect changes in viewing patterns.

WOOF ! Not that I don’t trust these guys, but, but if we had taken their deal back in 2000, SAG would be taking in about $500 million a year in annual pay instead of the $900 million we are currently collecting. Buyerah, I meant Trout beware. Also, if we’re currently making $900 million in annual pay and the new new contract is worth $900 thru the nexts three years then the annual 6% increase is meaninglessah, don’t that end up being ZERO increase in three years. Ah, ah, I don’t know but that don’t sound like a real good deal to me.

Varitey: Douglas Wood, lead negotiator for the industry, gave out the details in a Tuesday presentation at a conference held by the Assn. of National Advertisers. Talks are in recess this week and will resume Monday; the contract expires March 31.

In his presentation, Wood also disclosed that the unions are seeking a hike in the pension and health contributions by employers from the current 14.8% to 16% while the ad industry seeks a cap on contributions. The ad industry has long complained that advertisers pay a disproportionate amount — far more than movie and TV producers — into SAG’s P&H fund, partly due to the absence of contribution caps in the commercials contract.

WOOF ! HmmmI smell a ROLLBACK! A cap will cost the pension fund millions.

Varitey: That means advertisers have been required to make P&H contributions for actors making more than $125,000 per engagement, even when the actor’s compensation included “noncovered” services such as print advertising and public appearances. But the ad industry won a key ruling in federal court in December that upset three decades of practice. The judge found that disputes over P&H contributions must be resolved by mandatory bargaining on a case-by-case basis (Daily Variety, Dec. 23).

WOOF ! Yep, the Old Sniffer is still workingROLLBACK! The money lost by the employers cap, will by far outweigh the small pension increase. .

Varitey: SAG and AFTRA also proposed that all stunt drivers be classified as principals while the industry asked that the definition be narrowed to require that a stunt involve both skill and a hazard.

WOOF ! Hmmm, I’m trying to think of a stunt that doesn’t involve both.

Varitey: The unions also demanded that athletes hired for athletic performance be deemed principals; that Internet and new-media rates be increased by an additional session fee; and that actors receive a holding fee for made-for-cable in exchange for exclusivity.

Look, this contract is being brokered by AFTRA negotiators and their New York USAN counterparts on the Negotiating Team. Here’s the way it works and why Hollywood actors have absolutely no say in these negotiations even though they do the majority of the work. The thirteen AFTRA negotiators will vote in lockstep, as they have always done, along with the 6 New York and branches delagates thus giving them a 19/7 edge in the decision making; this on a contract where they only have a 10 percent stake in the outcome of the agreement. And, if you don’t believe that check out this smoking gun letter from then AFTRA NED Greg Hessinger saying that AFTRA should only pay ten percent of the cost of the strike because AFTRA only had a ten percent stake in the contract.

September 7, 2001
Mr. John T. McGuire
Associate National Executive Director
Screen Actors Guild
1515 Broadway, 44 Floor
New York, NY 10036

Re: 2000/2001 Commercials Contract Strike Costs

Dear John:

This letter is in response to your April 12, 2001 letter and further follows up on several conversations that you and I have had on the subject of costs incurred during the Commercials Contract strike.

In your letter, you indicated that the total strike costs compiled by the Guild amounted to $2,435,939. which you later updated to a final figure of $2,483,118. As you know, following AFTRA’s receipt of your letter, we engaged in a dialogue to seek mutual agreement on an appropriate division of these costs between the unions.

After considering numerous relevant factors, we ultimately agreed that a pro-rata division of these costs on the basis of the unions respective shares of the total television and radio commercials earnings would be a fair and equitable resolution. Applying that formula to the strike cost figures, AFTRA’s share (10.8%) amounts to $268.177.

Following our discussions, you presented this suggested approach to the SAG Finance Committee, which I understand fully endorsed it. Based upon this endorsement, I recently recommended the same approach to the AFTRA National Board. I am happy to report that the AFTRA Board approved the recommendation, conditioned upon final approval by the SAG National Board. AFTRA is prepared to remit payment immediately upon notice of such approval.

In closing, I would like to emphasize that the AFTRA Board also expressed the sincere hope that we could close this final chapter of our recent joint negotiations on a positive note of mutual cooperation, which after all, was the essence of our unions relationship throughout the Commercials and TV/Theatrical negotiations. The legacy is something to be built upon, not torn apart. I hope that the SAG Board will similarly and look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Greg Hessinger
National Executive Director

Oh, and I thought you’d like to know the guy who wrote that letter, and former AFTRA and SAG NED Greg Hessinger is on the JPC Negotiating team. Yep, he’s negotiating against SAG. Do you think he has the ear of the AFTRA negotiators and their cohorts, the USAN AFTRA First Negotiators out of New York and the branches. The same negotiators who followed blindly when he was SAG NED.

I would say employers, pretty well, have things sewed up against SAG. Hello! Our current NED David White, who until a few weeks ago was collecting a paycheck from the MPAA/AMPTP, is now heading a Task Farce supposedly negotiating the TV/Theatrical contract on behalf of SAG members. And they are being led by a guy, who on members behalf, is going against his former employer, mentor and former boss Whipsaw Bob Pisano

All three have either been, or are currently in the employ of our employers. Ah, you think there just might be a conflict of interest here?
*

Oh, and AFTRA who has poached our shows with lowball contracts, residual giveaways, and a compliant approach to employers, is now poaching our members.

This out of San Francisco. AFTRA has been sending casting calls out to members. The first one went like this:

Subject: AFTRA Background for Trauma NBC TV PIlot

This Beau Bonneau Casting notice is for AFTRA member outreach and is intended for those willing to work as AFTRA background for Television. Please disregard if you are not interested, or read thoroughly for details. We cannot receive emails at this address, so do not reply. No phone calls to the office are being accepted. Thank you.

Beau Bonneau Casting is seeking local AFTRA background actors 18 – 75 years old for Trauma, an NBC Television Pilot. Trauma is a fast paced medical drama revolving around accidents, injuries, and the professionals that respond to them. The pilot will be shooting March 23 – April 17 in the San Francisco area.

Well, apparantly, that one didn’t get them the little something extra they had hoped to gain by going AFTRA, so it wasn’t long before their next plea went out.

Casting Notice

Project Name:Trauma TV Pilot Extras
Project Type:Film TV
Format:
Rate/Compensation:

Message:

* If you are an AFTRA member who is also SAG, please disregard this notice and follow only AFTRA member instructions! This notice is intended for SAG members that are not AFTRA, but want to be considered for background work on Trauma. Beau Bonneau Casting is seeking local AFTRA background actors 18 ?” 60 years old for Trauma, an NBC Television Pilot.

* Beau Bonneau Casting will be casting AFTRA members first for Trauma, a total of 20 per day. We are now accepting SAG availability from SAG members who are “AFTRA willing” : meaning you have never worked an AFTRA job and are available for an AFTRA Taft Hartley. If you fit a role than an AFTRA member cannot fill, you may be selected, but it is not guaranteed. If you already submitted through sfcasting, there is no need to submit again. *** IMPORTANT: Under the AFTRA contract, only one Taft Hartley is issued whether the work performed is principal or background. AFTRA status turns in to AFTRA Must Join status 30 days after the original work date.

If you have already received a Taft Hartley for AFTRA work you are already an AFTRA Must Join and cannot work on this production without joining first. You can join AFTRA at anytime, however there is no guarantee that you will be cast and/or employed by this production. You must check your AFTRA status prior to submitting for this project!!! To check your AFTRA status or eligibility, call the local AFTRA office (415) 391-7510 and ask for MaryAnn in membership

Like I said, First AFTRA poached SAG’s shows. Now, in essence, it’s poaching SAG members. And it will continue to do both until someone at SAG demands that the AFL-CIO enforce its 4A’s Charter which gives SAG jurisdiction on all acting on TV, except that done in the MANNER OF A LIVE BROADCAST. If actors demanded a vote on who they want to represent them, it would be no contest about who they would choose. Just as it was no contest back in the early Fifties when they voted overwhelmingly to give jurisdiction to SAG.

Now, why are all these shows going to AFTRA to the detriment of SAG actors? Certainly not because AFTRA is a more prestiges union. Look, SAG members have to face the facts that the major agents are persauding their clients to work AFTRA shows because it allows them to have a piece of the action under the “Conflict of Interest,” deal. A deal which AFTRA’s leadership gave them for a $ Half-a-Million dollar payoff. The “deal” allows agents to own twenty percent of the show. And then, we have the studios who would prefer to work with a compliant union like AFTRA, rather than SAG which still has some backbone. Look the bottom line is that AFTRA is getting shows because it is willing to sellout actors. And until actors rebel they will continue to do so.

A.L. Miller SW Editor and Chief WOOF !

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SAG Hollywood No Voice! No Vote! A message from Interim NED to Board and Committee Members

March 13, 2009 (19:10) | 2009, SAG Politics | By: Arlin Miller

First Off, I didn’t get a chance to touch bases with Scott Wilson today but I assume he will be at his usual stand at 5757 Wilshire Blvd today, Friday. (3/13/09) More later!

JUST HEARD FROM SCOTT HE’S ON THE SCENE !! (3/13/09)

In the Old Dog’s opinion, one of the biggest mistakes NED Doug Allen, President Rosenberg and the ENTIRE SAG board made was when they were whipsawed into signing the AFL-CIO non-disparagement “Deal.”

It in affect has muzzled all of our SAG Hollywood leadership from communicating to our members. What makes it so offensive is that it has muzzled them from them telling us the truth.

Meanwhile, it allows the current New York USAN/Branches and UFS/ AFTRA /AMPTP First sycophants, who put AFTRA First, and would never diparage them to go after SAG and Hollywood’s ‘Membership First’ leadership with immunity while cowering behind the anonymity of their anonymously run website. They thumb their noses at the disparagement agreement while the AFO-CIO stands idly by doing nothing. Like I’ve said they’re Lew Wassmerman’s kind of guys. You know, “A compliant union is a good union!”

Okay, let’s look at the Message from Interim NED David White to, not only, silence our elected officials, but, also, all the SAG members who have volunteered their time to serve their union on committees.

Subject: Message from David White, SAG Interim National Executive Director, Re SAG-AFTRA Non-Disparagement Agreement

DW: To members of the National Board of Directors, Division Boards of Directors, Branch Councils, National Committees, alternates to these bodies, and staff:

On January 25, 2009, an advisory was distributed to you regarding the agreement reached between SAG and AFTRA for joint negotiation of the Commercials Contracts. The agreement had been authorized by both National Boards and was the result of months of detailed work designed to effectuate the continuation of joint bargaining. The agreement provides for the prohibition of disparagement of either union and of our staff or elected. I am attaching another copy of that advisory for your reference.

WOOF ! In effect what is going on here is a suppression of members’ constitutional rights of freedom of speech in the name of expediency.

DW: Unfortunately, it has come to our attention that, in recent days, several individuals covered by the terms of this agreement have made public statements, including those that can be found on the internet, that raise concerns with respect to prohibited disparagement of AFTRA.

WOOF ! No mention here of the disparagement of SAG and its Hollywood Leaders made by USAN/UFS by way of their anonymously run website. Also, what is not mentioned here is that the two members, I have heard mentioned, are NOT board members, and, by the way,are also AFTRA members. So, is Mr. White now telling us that AFTRA members cannot openly question, or criticize, their own union, AFTRA? Basically, what we have now is a message to both SAG and AFTRA members which is, pay your dues and SHUT THE F*UCK UP !! Apparently, Interim NED White, NY/Branches/UFS can’t wait for their merger. They are already turning SAG into a Star Chamber version of AFTRA. If you don’t believe that, why is it that Mr. White and the current New York USAN/UFS gang have indicated that beyond muting members, they are NOT GOING TO LET SAG MEMBERS VOTE, ON EITHER THE CONTRACT OR A STRIKE AUTHORIZATION, WHILE THEY JUST SIT BACK AND LET THE CONTRACT BE IMPOSED ON SAG BY THE AMPTP WITHOUT ANY SAY FROM THE MEMBERSHIP WHATSEVER !!

DW: I want to take this opportunity to remind everyone receiving this message that each of us is subject to the terms of the agreement and must not engage in making any public statements that are disparaging toward AFTRA, its staff or elected leadership. This prohibition applies regardless of the form of the statement (e.g. written, oral, or electronic, including videos), and includes, we should assume, the act of forwarding someone else’s email.

WOOF ! And I assume that also includes tapping it out in Morris code with a pencil, ah, that is if it is done in public. Like I said, pay your dues, and “Shut the F*UCK UP !!

DW: Obviously, many AFTRA members, including elected and appointed member leaders, also hold positions of leadership in SAG. While it is permissible for AFTRA members who are also SAG leaders to write directly to the AFTRA President and Vice-President(s), and/or to the AFTRA Board in protest of certain behavior or courses of action, it is critical that those communications be private communications to the intended recipients and not for the public or mass e-mails. In other words, AFTRA members of course have the right to communicate directly with their AFTRA elected representatives, just as SAG members have the right to communicate displeasure about something SAG may have done directly to SAG elected leadership, but if you hold elected or appointed office in either union, those communications should be directed to the parties concerned and not disseminated to the general public, the media, blogs, or personal e-mail lists of other members.

WOOF ! You know, private like AFTRA’s contracts, which AFTRA members are not allowed to see, and, of course, the results of referendums which are not only kept from members, but their elected AFTRA representatives. Oh, yeah, and what email from our New Interim NED would be complete without a threat.

DW: The terms of the joint bargaining agreement provide for financial and other potentially severe penalties to be imposed against either union if their covered leadership engages in violations of this agreement. It is critical, therefore, that we each take our responsibility to abide by this agreement seriously to avoid causing harm to the Guild. Please use your best judgment in determining whether any communication that you may contemplate issuing contains statements that are problematic in light of this agreement.

WOOF ! I agree that it is critical, critical that our elected leaders, and committee members take their responsibilities seriously, especially board members, to those who elected them, by continuing to speak the truth to the membership. (I understand committee members are already resigning so as not to be muzzled.) But I hope that board members just ignore this unconstitutional silencing edict and continue to tell it to us like it is, after all that is why we elected them. As to the AFL-CIO, if they want to enforce something, why don’t they quit harassing members, and enforce one of their own charters; the one that says that SAG has jurisdiction over all acting on television except that done in the manner of a LIVE BROADCAST. Also, if any board member is brought up on charges, and fined, I will personally help you sue them by contributing a grand to your defense fund. Yeah, I got it, thanks to our predecessors, who fought for residuals; something our new USAN SAG majority, from New York/ branches, along with USF board members are trying to give away.

DW: If you have any questions or concerns about this agreement, its terms or its implementation, please contact either me or Duncan Crabtree-Ireland for further assistance.

WOOF ! Right! And if I’m ever in a burning building, I’ll get in touch with you to bring over some matches.

DW: In unity, David P. White Interim National Executive Director

WOOF ! You mean in mute-nity don’t you, Doug?

A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief WOOF !

Oh, by the way, I understand that the new USAN/UFS interim hired gun, just canceled the scheduled NEC meeting. Don’t be surprised if it is replaced by another bogus Task Farce!

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New Exclusive WD Photos Wow What a Video! You got to see this. Also the latest from Variety!

March 9, 2009 (19:10) | 2009, SAG Politics | By: Arlin Miller

And the Ol’ Dogs Response Also the Dog’s take on the CQWARDS on the Baghead Blog By selling out actors, AFTRA gets 66 out of 70 pilots Don’t Forget the Big Rally at WB starts today at 11 AM (3/11/09) The Mice at Monday’s Hollywood Board Meeting The Ol’ Dog takes on the Backstage Blog! DeNiro Wants His Dinero! Exclusive info on the bogus Anne-Marie Johnson controversy! And Wednesday’s WB Rally, really

Big Turnout For WB Rally today (3/11/09).

Check out this great video by Rico, it will take you there.
http://sharing.theflip.com/session/8442bed29138094f125875bf94522348/video/3412316

Now a reminder that Scott and his SAG Stalwarts will be in front of SAG headquarters 5757 Wilshire protesting the New York USAN and UFS’s,(who now are running SAG} inaction denying the membership a chance to vote on the AMPTP’s final offer, so that SAG can move forward in getting a fair deal from our employers. He’ll be there around 10AM. He has ask me to tell any of his loyal SAG Stalwarts that if they get there before him to hold down the fort until he arrives.




Now to today’s rally at WB.

When the Ol’ Dog arrived at the rally, much of it had moved from the Hollywood Way entrance to the main entrance on Barham Blvd. Even so around 50 picketers remained on the four corners of the Hollywood Way studio entrance.

By the way, after the event, I noticed that the Baghead Blog SAG Watch (On The Rhine) displayed its AMPTP leanings by downplaying the turnout by labeling the event as “Fizzle No Drizzle.” Now, why would any loyal SAG members try and demean a group of fellow SAG members who are standing up for their guild, by trying to pressure the studios to give our members a fair deal?

Well, the answer is obvious:

They are not loyal SAG members.

The most likely bet is that the anonymously run site is run by AFTRA First/USAN supporters, and that it was created by AFTRA Trustee and board member broadcaster David Browde.

When confronted with indicators that pointed in his direction, but did not prove he was behind the site, Mr. Browde responded with a non-denial, denial. When that didn’t work and he was asked for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response, as to whether he had anything to do with the website, he did not respond and simply disappeared from the website where he had been posting.

What does one call a group that cowers behind anonymity while attacking others? Of course one word comes to mine.

COWARDS !!

Anyway, Dave McNary has a pretty good take on the rally. But I would argue that his numbers we’re a tad low on the turnout.

Protesters blast AMPTP offer to SAG
Opponents of final offer march outside WB

HOLLYWOOD — With SAG negotiations mired in stalemate, about 75 opponents of the congloms’ final offer picketed Wednesday outside Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank.
The three-hour event, aimed at persuading SAG members to vote down the ratification if it’s sent out, drew national board members Joe Bologna, Frances Fisher, Diane Ladd, France Nuyen, Nancy Sinatra, Rene Taylor and Angela Watson.

“Actors will not accept a 97% pay cut,” Taylor’s sign read.

Participants — mostly from the hardline Membership First coalition — blasted the Feb. 19 final offer from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, alleging its new-media provisions will make it difficult for middle-class actors to make a living as programming migrates to digital platforms. Ladd carried a blank sign, asserting it showed the value of the AMPTP’s offer.

WOOF ! Actually, from my personal perspective most of those who turned out were not necessarily Membership First members but rather regular SAG members who happen to agree with Scott that SAG is being sold out by those who currently are in the majority. As to hardliners, I think the word hardline is used here in the Hollywood vernacular: (Hollywood Hardliner: 1.A Hardliner is anyone who will not kiss studio owners ass. 2. In collective bargaining, Hardliners are negotiators are ones that will not take the deal and shut the f*ck up. 3.Hardliners, unlike their moderate counterparts, do not bring a supply of K-gel to negotiations. *See USAN UFS listed under K-gel. )

Variety: “The deal that’s on the able is just wrong,” Ladd told Daily Variety. “I helped make this studio millions of dollars on ‘Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,’ and got it both an Oscar nomination and then helped them create a TV series. So I want the studios to make a lot of money, but when they do, I think we deserve a little bitty piece of it.”

SAG and the AMPTP have had no official comment about the standoff in several weeks. Although SAG’s feature-primetime master contract expired on June 30, there’s no indication of any recent movement toward a compromise over the issue of when the new contract will expire — even though the moderate coalition that controls SAG’s national board has agreed to the rest of the congloms’ offer.

WOOF ! Yep, the USAN New York/Branches run Task Farce, along with the compliance of the UFS Hollywood negotiators, has agreed to violate SAG’s Core Principle, which disallows signatories producing non-union shows, they have agreed to the AMPTP template that will eliminate residuals and a series of other rollbacks, but they have not as yet agreed to the red herring of a three year contract at time of signing. But, that hard nosed Task Farce under Chief Negotiator John McGuire will most likely come back in the nick of time, and proclaim victory in that the AMPTP has agreed to the contract expiring in two years.

Variety: Former board member Peter Kwong said rank-and-file members have overlooked problems with the deal because of concerns about the economy. “I think there’s a lot of confusion and misinformation about what the national board is doing,” he added.
WOOF ! As we have noted time after time the studios are setting records in box office returns every week. The poor economy is a sham by the AMPTP to get SAG to sell out its future.

Variety: The turnout at the event, organized by Scott Wilson, was better than at a similar rally held last week amid rainy weather outside 20th Century Fox. Wilson promised there will be another rally outside a studio next Wednesday.

WOOF ! I just talked to Scott and we’ll get that information up as soon as it is available.

Variety: SAG’s fractured Hollywood board voted Monday night in a 27-10 tally to advise the national board to send out the congloms’ final offer to members — without a recommendation — even though the national panel spurned taking this step two weeks ago.

WOOF ! Translation: It is New York and the branches, who only do 25% of the work on the TV/Theatrical contract, that are preventing Hollywood members who do 75% of the work from having a say on their future.

Variety: Membership First, which lost its majority on the national board last fall but still controls the Hollywood board, has asserted that the offer should be sent out in its current form and then voted down by the members to force the congloms to improve the terms.

The AMPTP has said repeatedly that it won’t sweeten the offer. A calculator on the AMPTP’s website said Wednesday that SAG members have lost over $58 million in salary hikes that they would have received had guild leaders accepted the deal last June.

WOOF ! And they wouldn’t lie to you, right?

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As you will read below AFTRA has gotten most of TV pilots this season. What you will not read is that they have done it by playing ball with super agents by allowing them to share ownership with employers creating a conflict of interest between agents/producers and their clients.

What the article will not mention is that they have done it by offering employers contracts that give away actors residuals, decade old protections, and allows employers to do non-union protects.

Check the list of some of the shows AFTRA got by giving away residuals and offering inferior minimums. TARGET=”_blank”> http://sagwatchdog.com/cgi-bin/admin_config.pl/read/835

And what it won’t mention is that SAG has a Charter from the AFL/CIO 4A’s that gives it jurisdiction over all digital productions except those done in the manner of a live broadcast. (Note the last 3 paragraphs.)

A Charter which the AFL-CIO ignores because AFTRA is its kind of union. One that does not make waves, therefore eliminating any possibility of labor unrest…which would affect the rest of its affiliates. The AFL-CIO lives by Lew Wasserman’s code, “A compliant union is a good union.”

And AFTRA is a good union; just ask all of the company town media and lawyer lackeys.

And what it won’t mention is that AFTRA is no longer a guild for its members but now functions for its staff and broadcasters as an AMPTP company union.

Here is the Article from the Hollywood Reporter

66 of 70 to be union-affiliated, up from handful last season

By Nellie Andreeva
March 10, 2009, 11:00 PM ET

The digital revolution that swept TV production this pilot season also has swept AFTRA into place as the dominant actors union.

The looming possibility of a SAG strike and the lure of the less-expensive and more-flexible digital production has accelerated the transition from film to digital. The union affiliation for a pilot and the subsequent series is determined by the method of filming: film for SAG and digital for AFTRA. That is firmed up after directors are hired, and with all pilot helmers in place, the final union pilot tally is coming together.

Sixty-six of 70 pilots this season will be AFTRA-affiliated, up from a handful last pilot season. The tally doesn’t include the “NCIS” and “Gossip Girl” spinoffs as they are filmed as episodes of the regular series under the same conditions as the existing shows.

Four out of six studios went 100% AFTRA/digital this pilot season: 20th Century Fox TV (nine pilots), ABC Studios (15), Sony TV (nine) and Universal Media Studios (nine). The haul includes 20th TV’s “Masterwork” and “Maggie Hill,” ABC Studios’ “Flash Forward” and “Happy Town,” Sony TV’s “Community” and untitled Lauren Graham series and UMS’ “Day One” and “Parenthood.”

For CBS Paramount TV and Warner Bros. TV, the percentages are 92% and 79%, respectively.

Only one CBS Par pilot, the untitled U.S. Attorney project, is being done under SAG, with the other 12 (excluding the “NCIS” spinoff) AFTRA-affiliated, including “Washington Field” and “The Good Wife.”

Meanwhile, 11 of WBTV’s 14 pilots (excluding the “Gossip Girl” spinoff) are shot on digital under AFTRA, including “Human Target” and the two Jerry Bruckheimer pilots. The studio’s SAG-affiliated pilots are “V,” “Eastwick” and single-camera comedy “The Middle,” which was a summer pickup.

Also shot under AFTRA is the lone independently produced pilot this season: Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick’s CBS drama “A Marriage.”

Additionally, NBC/UMS’ upcoming single-camera series “Parks and Recreation” and Fox/20th’s single-camera comedy pilot “Boldly Going Nowhere,” which will be reshot later this year, also are produced under AFTRA.

Well, according to a couple of observations of Monday nights Hollywood Division board meeting, it is apparent who the mice were, or, if you believe in a membership where members actually have a voice in their future, you might better phrase it as who the rats were.
*rat*rat*rat

An advisory motion to the National Board was presented by dedicated Membership First board member George Coe asking that the AMPTP’s l last final offer be sent out in referendum for the membership to vote on.

He reminded the new interim NED, David White that according to Federal labor law, the union only has 60 days from the date the offer was presented to respond, or the AMPTP can unilaterally impose the contract.

At this point, David White was asked to immediately call a National Board meeting to discuss sending the contract out for a vote. What happened next had jaws dropping all over the room.

When Mr. White responded that SAG had to be ‘strategic’ about the matter, and he wanted to make certain that the commercial negotiations were going well before proceeding. This bit of illogical posturing apparently caused an outburst from Hollywood’s overwhelming majority Membership First contingent.

Here are some of ‘General’ David White’s observations.

White: “This is not something to do when you’re distracted by the other contract.”

Huh? Perhaps the current USAN/UFS SAG majority might have better served the membership if they had hired an interim who was ambidextrous, but then they aren’t eitherthey are not able to serve the AMPTP and membership at the same time.

White: “We’ll have to assess when to have a meeting”

And while he’s assessing when to have a meeting, we’ll be losing our asses. Talk about a lack of leadership qualities.

And this comment from Mr. White, is probably one of the most bizarre comment made by any NED in SAG history “I’ve spoken to many members who don’t want us to send out the contract for a vote”

Well, there you go. We’ll just have to let the sixty days go by so that the AMPTP can impose there contract on us. After all, our NED has spoken to many members who don’t want to contract sent out for a vote.

One observer in an email message to the Ol’ Dog stated “It was clear from David White’s responses that he intends to let the clock run out without calling any National Board meeting or sending out the contract.”

And let us remind you that only a few weeks ago one of David White’s clients was the MPAA/AMPTP. Yep, he was getting money from the very folks who it seems that he is now going to let impose their rollback riddled contract on SAG members. But, but there is no ‘Conflict of Interest’ here, right?

How about this bit of skewed logic by “Uncle Joe” UFS board alternate Ned Vaughn. “If we send this contract out, and it’s accepted that goes against what the board wants!”

Duh! Why not then send it out with a “No” recommendation, or better yet… ah, I ain’t going too fast for you am I Ned? Here’s a though, how about sending out a strike authorization recommendation? Are you, or anyone else, suggesting that if the board was unanimous in recommending a strike authorization the membership would not follow suit? But, then the current cream puffs running our guild are in a dilemma ; they don’t like the contract but they ain’t got the cajones to go on strike. Gosh, maybe if they just could improve their begging skills. Hey, maybe we could send them to one of the poorer middle-eastern countries for a seminar, you think. “Alms for the Poor!”

Of course, Mr. Vaughn’s distress that the membership might disagree with him is not surprising considering that his whole UFS group was based on taking away certain members votes; it’s just now his true colors are showing through. He doesn’t just want to take away certain members votes, now he wants to deny all members a vote because he thinks they might disagree with him. Are you beginning to get the feeling that Vaughn and his UFS and USAN pals are on the verge of turning the great Screen Actors Guild from a democratic entity into a totalitarian one.

They have witnessed our memberships apathy, and have acted upon it. They suspend policies that safeguard all our rights, and there is barely a whimper from the membership. And now they are on the verge of making the membership only a blip on the radar, and still the membership lets them proceed while remaining mute. I suspect, it is going to have to get a lot worse before the membership wakes up.

Wait until, they find out that most of the work is non-union, or that those Network reruns checks of $759 dollars are no longer there, replaced by a years worth of unlimited number of plays on the Internet for 44 bucks. Maybe then they get it, but then “Maybe Then” it will be too late.

Perhaps, a quote from a Membership First member at the meeting would be appropriate here. “If we don’t stand for something, we’ll fall for anything!”

A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief

Oh, by the way, the advisory motion passed with the usual UFS AMPTP sycophants voting no. In another “incident,” an observer voluntarily left the board meeting after telling Ned Vaughn, who was at the mike, to “shut up!”

HummI wonder if anyone seconded his motion?

For those of you who check in to find out when Scott Wilson is on the scene at 5757 Wilshire, I just got the word that he has just arrived on the scene for his vigil at SAG headquarters. Oh, by the way if you drop by today to join Scott and his SAG Stalwarts, you might want to wish Scott a happy 32nd wedding Anniversary. Yes, he and his lovely wife Heavenly have been married thirty-two years. Congratulations from the Ol’ Watchdog. (Don’t forget the big rally at WB tomorrow, details below next to the water tower,)

Also, check in through out the day for stories about Monday Nights Hollywood board meeting, and also a story where the Ol’ Dog takes on Salomon’s Mind, and the Backstage Blog.)

This from the Backstage Blog.

Hollywood. No, Really.
Andrew Salomon

And we’re back. Miss us? Me neither. (I know the joke’s a re-run–and alas, no residuals. Fresh humor will be in short supply as long as the Dow is operating at pre-Spice Girls levels.)
We here at Strike Watch have been working on Back Stage’s newest blog, Espresso, soon to be its own entity and thus have not been able to follow every jot, tittle, and tit for tat emanating from SAG’s Hollywood Division, but the local board met last night and provided us with actual news, sort of, that we now feel compelled to crib from Variety doggedly cover. Hooray.
The Hollywood Board held a meeting last night wherein the Membership First-led majority urged the national board to send the producers’ contract offer to members without a recommendation, Variety reported. The thinking is that if the rank and file reject the deal, the producers will have to improve their final offer.

WOOF ! Not quite. To be more correct, the thinking is without such a rejection or strike authorization, the AMPTP will never improve the final offer. There are two kinds of bargaining Collective Begging and Collective Bargaining. The current New York and branch board majority seems to believe in the former.

The guild has a 3.3 percent-per-year pay raise sitting on the table.
WOOF ! Which might be acceptable if other issues of vital importance to the guild were not at stake. But as will be apparent as you read on, Mr. Salomon is only offering the AMPTP’s side of the equation. (Boy, there’s a Shocker.) He, conveniently leaves out the rest of the equation. No mention that by signing the final offer, SAG would violate its Core Principle that signatories cannot do non-union productions. Or that by signing, SAG would give up or weaken safeguards that have been in place for decades. Or for instance, that accepting the employer deal would basically be the beginning of the end of residuals as product moves over to new media. But, but, Mr. Salomon didn’t bother to mention those things. You don’t think he and Backstage are shilling for employers do you? Naw! I’m sure, he’ll mention actors side of this, somewhere in this article. After all Backstage is an actors magazine, right! We’ll let’s continue for some of that ‘siding with actors’ stuff!


The AMPTP has given SAG 60 days to accept the offer before it reconsiders the deal. What do union leaders think will happen when the term expires on or around on April 20? Do they think the offer will increase or decrease?

WOOF ! The problem is that SAG currently does not have any leadership, what with New York/Branches and UFS “go-along to get-alongs’ in the majorty. There is serious speculation backed by USAN/UFS inaction that they will deny the membership a voice in the matter by simply having no membership vote, thus, accepting the “deal” by taking no action.


Let’s look at the evidence: These are the stock prices of major AMPTP companies at Tuesday’s opening compared with their 52-week highs: CBS ($3.17/$25), Disney ($15.23/$35.02), GE [NBC Universal] ($8.01/$38.52), News Corp. [Fox] ($5.11/$23.58), Sony ($17.73/$52.36), Time Warner ($7.48/$16.90), Viacom ($14.94/$41.46). Put another way, the share price of every single company has lost more than half its value in the past year. Two companies have lost almost 80 percent, and one has lost nearly 90. The stock market is up huge so far today, but we dobut they will recover all of these losses by the session’s end, let alone by April 20.
WOOF ! There our boy goes againonly presenting evidence that suits him and his pals at the AMPTP. No mention that employers are evidencing record box office revenue off of actors and other guild members work. This from yesterday’s LA Times.

So far the recession doesn’t appear to have dampened trips to the multiplex, where ticket prices in major cities now top $8 and a tub of popcorn can cost more than $5. Attendance at movie theaters in the first nine weeks of 2009, typically one of the slowest periods for ticket sales, is up 14.8% over last year, according to Media by Numbers, a box office tracking firm. Box office revenue is up 16.5%.

(LA Times 3/9/09)

WOOF ! Also, no mention that TV viewing is up. I just read where CBS will be increasing the price of their ads. Look, it is obvious to anyone who cares to check out the facts that this whole thing is not about the current economy or money alone. It is about employers setting the rules and formulas, the template, for so-called New Media for decades to come. If it were only about the current floundering economy, why wouldn’t the AMPTP be enthusiastic about the percentage model proposed by SAG. One in which, if producers make money in new media actors share in that success, and if they don’t make money then actors don’t either. If, indeed, the present was what employers were truly worried about, they would accept SAG’s “shared risk” proposal. Okay, let’s get back to more of Andrew’s parroting of producer propaganda.


If labor folk aren’t moved by management woes, one could consider the amount of money SAG has lost in the eight-month stalemate: $58 million and counting. By the way, there is little chance of the union winning retroactive pay in any deal that is ratified by members–whenever that happens.
WOOF ! Ah, there he goes again. Perhaps, someone should offer him a crackeryou think? Has anyone seen any evidence to back up the unsubstantiated claim that actors have lost $58 million dollars by not signing the rollback, riddled final offer from the AMPTP. What was that Andrew, it must be true, you saw it on the AMPTP website. Right. Here have a cracker.


Yes, one could look at improving box office numbers in the first quarter as a sign that the studios aren’t going anywhere. But how are those TV ratings and ad rates doing? (CBS and Fox have been ratings champs the past several seasons and the drops of their share prices have been the steepest.) How are those credit markets operating? Are they more or less likely to finance films and other productions with labor unrest?
WOOF ! Ah, I love the part about box office “is improving.” Talk about a misleading, ambivalent wording. It gives the impression that the box office “is improving,” from a downturn which is completely untrue. In fact, 2008 was a record breaking year for box office, up over 2007 which was also a record breaking year. It is the one bright spot in employers’ otherwise dark dealings; and, one might argue, that producers might not be so willing to kill their one cash cow by risking a strike.

We’re just asking.
WOOF ! And we’re just answering.


Tell us truthfully now: Did you miss us?
WOOF ! You mean you were gone?

–Andrew Salomon

There is a Rally at Warner Bros. Studios, Hollywood Way Gate, next Wednesday, March 11, 2009 from 11am – 2pm.

That’s the Entrance where the water tower is located.

Parking on side streets. Watch the parking signs.

“By mid 2006, Warner Bros had cleared “…300-plus television series, and about 14,000 to 15,000 episodes of programming” for Internet streaming, VOD and other internet use. (Robert Ellsberg for the Huffington Post, June 5, 2008).

Who knows how many more have been cleared since 2006.

Warner Bros. CEO, Barry Meyer, CBS Leslie Moonves, Disney ABC TV Anne Sweeney, AMPTP’s Nicholas Counter, “called for the end of … residuals”. (Michael Cieply for the New York Times, July 11, 2007).

We must fight for our residuals and resulting pension and health benefits. Vote NO on the Contract.

In solidarity,

Scott Wilson
Henry Kingi

Robert Dinero, you remember him one of the hi-profile actors who placed an ad in the trades urging SAG members to accept the AMPTP Final agreement with no protections for product integration and clip consent as a provision of employment.

Well, it seems Mr. DeNiro wants HIS dinero when it comes to protecting his own image.

De Niro, Pacino sue in NY over watch ads

Wed Mar 4, 2009 6:21pm EST

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) – Actors Robert De Niro and Al Pacino sued a film distributor and watch company on Wednesday for Tutima watch advertisements tied to the 2008 film “Righteous Kill.”

Both actors said in the lawsuit that a series of advertisements falsely suggested the two actors endorsed Tutima watches. The suit that names De Niro and Pacino as plaintiffs seeks damages from Overture Films, based in Los Angeles, California, and Tutima Inc, a German watchmaker.

The series of promotions included one print advertisement which showed the actors faces and their names above a picture of a Tutima watch and a “Righteous Kill” video clip that appeared on Tutima’s website, the lawsuit said.

“DeNiro’s and Pacino’s policies concerning commercial endorsements and tie-ins are common knowledge in the entertainment industry,” the lawsuit said. “Defendants’ actions have damaged De Niro’s and Pacino’s valuable reputations and diminished the commercial value of their name and images.”

Both men were very careful about product endorsement, the lawsuit said, with De Niro only endorsing a product or service “under very specific and compelling circumstances.”

“Pacino, over the course of his lengthy career, has never commercially endorsed any product or service in the United States,” the lawsuit said.

Overture and Tutima could not be immediately reached for comment.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Manhattan, seeks monetary damages for breach of contract, violations of right of publicity and right of privacy laws in an amount to be determined at trial.
Both actors signed talent agreements in 2007 that prohibited using the actors for merchandising or product placements without prior written consent, the suit said.

In “Righteous Kill,” released in September, 2008, Pacino and De Niro played two veteran cops on the trail of a serial killer in a film that was panned by critics. It made more than $78 million worldwide, according to research company Box Office Mojo.
(Reporting by Christine Kearney; Editing by Michelle Nichols and Eric Walsh)

Under the circumstances, perhaps, DeNiro will be willing to supply his high paid attorney to protect rank and file Members rights when the same thing happens to themyou think.

As to the anonymous blog that proclaims that DeNiro and Pacino’s rights would be protected under AFTRA’s contract? Right! AFTRA which didn’t protect its juvenile actors from contracts that basically indentured them to human bondage contracts, is gonna’ protect actors from the thief of their imageseven if they had such language in their contract, which they don’t.

The consent of clip clause at time of employment, is in essence not consent at all, but rather extortion which mandates clip consent as a provision of employment, and, even, then AFTRA is not obliged to protect the actor.

Although, the Baghead Blog takes itself seriously, even to the point in saying if you don’t believe ushuh, why shouldn’t we believe them? After all, they post anonymously, refusing to add credibility to posts by taking personal responsibility for content.

As to their claim that the two hi-profile actors would have been covered under the AFTRA Contract, one can only laugh. You see, DeNiro/Pacino’s problem occurred as the result of a MOVIE they appeared in, NOT a Television Show, which is the part of the AFTRA agreement under which the Bagheads claim the actors would have been covered. Oh, and it was in a print ad, NOT new media in which the actors images from the MOVIE were used. But, but they would have been covered. *

This from the AFTRA Exhibit A contract, as noted by the Baghead Blog as the section that would have covered DeNiro and Pacino. Note it relates to a television program not a feature film.

3. Reuse of Photography or Sound Track in New Media; The following shall govern the use in new media of photography or soundtrack of a performer from any television program, regardless of when such program was produced:

Note also; further down in the agreement AFTRA doesn’t protect performers following a Performer’s clip “consent!” If a violation such as the one DeNiro or Pacino encountered, AFTRA does nothing. but the contract does allow the aggrieved performer to pursue “claims.” Whatever, the hell, that means! I suspect it means they can get a lawyer and sue! Whoopee! Thanks, for protecting actors, AFTRA.

Here is what it says:

Such consent shall not in any manner waive the performer’s rights, including rights of the
performer’s estate,to pursue claims against third
parties arising from the use of excerpts that are
outside the scope of the authorization given by the Producer.

If DeNiro hadn’t turned on his fellow SAG members with his, and others, open display of capitulation, perhaps, we would all now have a deal under Product Integration that would not only have protected Mr DeNiro, and Mr. Pacino but the rest of their fellow SAG members.

While we are on the subject of the Baghead Blog, SAG Watch (On The Rhine,) their hypocrisy is once again showing through. They are making a big deal out of First VP, Anne-Marie Johnson’s comments reflecting the Hollywood majority’s opinion on failure of the New York and the Branches Majority to either send out the AMPTP’s final offer, or to give the membership the opportunity to have their voices heard in a strike authorization referendum.

(Oh, by the way, now that the USAN.UFS “go-along to get-alongs” are running the negotiations, you’ll notice one piece of producer propaganda they are no long parroting; I don’t know about you, but, but, I haven’t heard them say much about how all the money members are losing every day that goes by without a contract.)

Now, why I say that there is a tad bit of hypocrisy here with the Anne-Marie controversy, is that our noble minded New York and Branches leadership didn’t seem to have any problem when their branch leaders used SAG’s website and their SAG magazinesto express their leadership’s personal opinions.

For instance, here is just one article out of Portland in which Portland VP, Robert Blanch and board member Mary McDonald-Lewis used our SAG dues money to post their personal opinions on SAG Portland’s website.

When I get a chance, perhaps, I’ll put up the snide remarks made in the guise of humor about NED Doug Allen and President Rosenberg, and Hollywood in general, during the celebration of SAG’s 75th anniversary. It really reveals a New York USAN leadership with a definite inferiority complex.

Once again, don’t forget the Rally this Wednesday 3/11/09 at Warner Brothers Studios.

Ah-thatha..that’s all, folks.

A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief

Comments

comments

The Foxes at Fox You’ll feel like you were there with this Fox Rally Video By Rico You’ll love this photo from the LA Times.

February 28, 2009 (19:10) | 2009, SAG Politics | By: Arlin Miller

Also here it is Thursday 3/5/09 and Scott’s still there Wild You got to see these Rally Photos Just in a Short Video from todays Fox Rally ; Update Wednesday (3/4/09) The Big Rally at Fox!! Also guess who else is protesting over the screwing they are getting by the AMPTP? Also, another record breaking weekend for Producers Scott’s & his SAG Stalwarts prepare for the big rally Wednesday. More photos *058 New Interim SAG NED, David Whites, “Conflict of Interest” with the AMPTP

Here’s Scott: (Video provided by Raul Reformina)

The Ol’ Dog has got to call this one The “Foxes at Fox.” Whoof! Whoof!

Scott and his SAG Stalwarts vigil continues into its Sixth week at 5757 Wilshire (3/6/09.) Scott and the guys and gals will be there well into the afternoon if you’d like to join them.

*

Hmmm…yeah, the Ol’ Dog has definitly got to join them !!

More Video from the rally; Hear from Asner, Bower, Jolliffe, Clennon and morehttp://www.youtube.com/rico61bueno

You gotta love this photo in the business section of today’s LA Times. (3/5/09) The photo is of one of Scott Wilson’s SAG Stalwarts, Brogee, at yesterday’s Fox Rally.

I have entitled it…

“SAG Actor Wrestles with Loss of Residuals !!

The latest from McNary:

Posted: Wed., Mar. 4, 2009, 7:44pm PT
SAG dissidents rally outside Fox

Ed Asner, Sally Kirkland lead protest

By DAVE MCNARY

SAG’s staying silent about its latest stalemate with the congloms even as there’s no sign of movement toward a feature-primetime deal — nine months after that pact expired.

With negotiations stuck over the issue of the date for contract expiration, about 50 opponents of the companies’ final offer rallied Wednesday in the drizzle outside 20th Century Fox.

The three-hour event, aimed at urging SAG members to vote down the ratification if it’s ever sent out, featured sidewalk speeches at a half-hour news conference by former SAG president Ed Asner, former board member Sally Kirkland and veteran actors Larry Gelman and Scott Wilson. The quartet blasted the final offer from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, alleging its new-media provisions will destroy SAG by making it impossible for middle-class actors to make a living.

“We have enough economic problems in the world without putting this union out of business,” Kirkland said. “I’m just asking the CEOs to think humanely.”

Negotiations between SAG and the AMPTP cratered two weeks ago over the issue of when SAG’s contract would expire, with the guild pushing for a two-year deal and the congloms insisting on a three-year term. SAG’s indicated it wants back-channel meetings with the moguls to hammer out a compromise, but the only recent development has been the confirmation that AMPTP prexy Nick Counter will retire on March 31.

Wilson, who served on the now-abolished negotiating committee, noted that the current SAG leadership has agreed to the rest of the final offer.

“It’s still the same lousy deal in every other respect,” Wilson said. “The members of the SAG board don’t understand what’s in the best interests of actors.”

Asner, who served as guild president between 1981 and 1985, said the national board should send out a strike authorization to members — a step that’s been opposed by the board’s moderate majority and a significant number of high-profile actors including Matt Damon, George Clooney and Tom Hanks. The moderates fired national exec director Doug Allen and replaced the negotiating committee in late January out of frustration with Allen’s strategy of pushing for an authorization vote.

“It’s a shame that we don’t see more of our high-profile members against this,” Asner added.

Wilson said the rally marked the first in a series of similar events that will be targeted at the congloms.

Attendees at the rally also hammered the tentative deal before members of the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, especially over a proposed tightening of eligibility for health and pension benefits.

SAG’s board decided on Feb. 21 on a split vote against sending out a strike authorization to members, which would have needed a steep 75% endorsement from those voting to pass. Over the objections of the hardline Membership First faction, the moderates have contended that seeking the authorization would be counter-productive at a time that the economy continues to fall apart.

SAG’s website, however, still endorses a strike authorization and blasts the AMPTP’s offer. And in a message to Hollywood members sent Wednesday in the Hollywood Call Sheet, First VP Anne-Marie Johnson blistered the moderates, accusing them of “disparaging and undermining the hard work” by Allen and the negotiating committee.

Johnson also asserted that the AMPTP’s “last, best, final” offer should be sent out in its current form and then voted down by the members.

“What are we waiting for?” she said. “In my opinion, the deal is not going to improve. Please log onto AMPTP.org to read the AMPTP’s LBF offer, if you haven’t done so already. It is a BAD DEAL. Forty-four days of actual negotiations, two days of mediation and three days of resumed negotiations with the revamped task force proved that the AMPTP had/has no intention of working with SAG to create an acceptable deal, potentially securing labor peace for years to comeregardless of who was sitting across the negotiating table.”

For its part, the AMPTP’s website still contains a counter that calculates how much money SAG members have lost by failing to accept the congloms’ three-year offer on June 30, including $250 million in pay gains. As of Wednesday, the loss figure had topped $56.6 million.


Here are some more photos from the Fox Rally!








Thanks, guys, for all the pics. I’ll put more up tomorrow.

Check this out:

http://sharing.theflip.com/session

Nice turnout for the rally today at Fox with members joining Scott Wilson and former SAG Prez Ed Asner. The turnout was good, especially since once again, rain seems to be following Scott around.
Apparently, the sun has emerged finally, and more members should be showing up. They’ll be out there until at least 2PM, if you happen t be in the area and would like to join them. (Check in later for pics)


Don’t forget the big rally in front of Fox Studios today Wed.(3/4/09)to protest the rollback final offer that studios and producers are using to screw SAG and other guild members. It will be led by Ralph Morgan Award winner Scott Wilson, see details below.

And if you don’t believe they are screwing other guilds, this from today’s LA Times. (You IATSE folks, and the rest of the guilds, might want to join Scott and his SAG Stalwarts in saying enough, is enough!


Date: Tuesday, March 3, 2009, 10:28 PM

LABOR

Conflict erupts inside theatrical stage employees union

Leaders defend benefit cuts in a proposed pact with Hollywood film and TV studios, but critics say they go too far.

By Richard Verrier

March 4, 2009

Although much of the entertainment industry has focused on the civil war inside the Screen Actors Guild, another powerful Hollywood union is wrestling with its own internal conflict over a proposed contract with the studios.

Leaders of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, whose members include 35,000 who work behind the scenes on film and television sets, are facing a high level of dissent from the rank and file over a contract that includes modest pay increases but also deep cuts in the union’s coveted health and pension benefits.

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The union’s brass says the cuts are necessary to plug a projected $580-million deficit in the health plans largely due to rising medical costs.

Critics say the cuts go too far and will force thousands of union members and their families to lose their health insurance. Under the proposed three-year contract, members would be required to work 400 hours every six months, up from the current 300 hours, to keep their benefits.

Concerns about work hours have grown as production activity has slowed to a crawl.

Many of the union’s members are still struggling to recover from the losses sustained in the writers strike last year and by the uncertainty caused by the SAG contract talks.

Last year, the studios rushed to wrap feature films by June 30, causing a severe drop in production during the second half of 2008. The credit crunch has caused studios to further scale back production.

“At a time when our nation is increasingly concerned about the growing number of people who don’t have health insurance, this is the wrong direction to be going in,” said Doug Knapp, a camera operator with the union’s Local 600, who helped launch a website called 400hours.com to fight ratification of the contract.

Knapp estimates that roughly 10% of the union’s film and TV members — 3,500 — will lose health coverage as a result of the 400-hour requirement.

The new threshold is a divisive issue for many union members, who’ve tended to accept lower pay increases in exchange for preserving their health benefits, for which enrollees don’t pay premiums.

Unlike most actors and writers, the union’s members don’t earn direct payments from prior work on TV shows and movies. Instead, payments that would be earmarked for residuals are funneled into a fund for health and pension plans.

Union President Matt Loeb declined to comment. In a message accompanying the “memorandum of agreement” mailed to members last week, Loeb strongly urged members to support the contract, warning that a “vote against ratification is a vote to authorize a strike.” Ballots are due back March 18.

Despite the opposition, it is unlikely the contract will be shot down. The leaders of the union’s various locals have given their blessing to the contract. Indeed, the union is known for having friendly relations with the studios and has long advocated early contract talks, reasoning that it helps foster labor peace.

So few were surprised when the union announced an agreement in November — eight months before the current contract expires. But when details of the agreement dribbled out, guild leaders faced a hostile reaction from union members such as Knapp.

“I only had 287 hours in the last six months,” said the camera operator, who worked on the Warner Bros. TV series “Moonlight” before it was canceled and the TV movie “Merry Christmas Drake & Josh.”

richard.verrier@latimes.com


Just got off the phone with Scott Wilson; Even though he is ailing, he is once again standing up for the SAG membership in today’s lone vigil at 5757 Wilshire. He say’s he will be there until 3 P.M. when he has to leave for a doctors appointment. In The meantime he is hoping that, perhaps, other concerned members will join him.

But, Scott stresses that more importantly he will see you all at the big rally tomorrow in front of Fox Studios on Pico: (More details at the bottom of this post)

Even though employers continue to try and get SAG members to agree to their egregious rollback final offer because of the failing economy, they continue to benefit from it with a rise in TV viewing and record breaking box office returns.

The following from the LA Times which reports that box office for this weekend is up plus 14.8% over the same weekend in record breaking 2008, and up 17.30 percent for the year to date over 2008.

Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail is the top-grossing movie for the second week in a row as comedies take five of the top 10 spots.

By Alex Pham
March 02, 2009

When it comes to curing the economic blues, laughter still is the best medicine.
Moviegoers this weekend took a break from the drumbeat of layoffs and bankruptcies, heading to theaters to watch comedies such as Tyler Perry’s “Madea Goes to Jail,” the top-grossing film for the second week in a row.

“In down times like this, people want to be entertained, and they want to laugh,” said Steve Rothenberg, president of domestic distribution at Lionsgate, the studio that released “Madea.” “It’s no surprise that the only two films this year that have repeated their No. 1 rank in the weekly charts have been comedies.”

“Madea” garnered estimated receipts of $16.5 million over the weekend, bringing its two-week total to $64.9 million, according to box office tracker Media by Numbers.

The other film that maintained its No. 1 rank in ticket sales for more than a week this year was “Paul Blart: Mall Cop.” The lighthearted comedy from Sony/Columbia landed in the No. 6 spot with an estimated $5.6 million. The weekend brought its total box office to $128.1 million over seven weeks.

Other funny flicks to hit the Top 10 chart include “He’s Just Not That Into You,” a comedy of romantic errors from Warner Bros. that took in $5.9 million this weekend for the fifth spot, and “Confessions of a Shopaholic” from Walt Disney Studios, which was ninth with $4.5 million. “Fired Up,” a spoof about two high school football players who crash a cheerleading camp, rounded out the comedy list at No. 10 overall with $3.8 million.

Although comedies took five of the top 10 spots, other genres also fared well this weekend.

“Slumdog Millionaire” continued to win over filmgoers. The Fox Searchlight movie about a pauper in Mumbai who attains fame during his appearance on a quiz show took third place with $12.2 million in ticket sales. Boosted by seven Academy Awards, including best picture, “Slumdog” went to a wider audience, appearing in 31% more theaters than the previous week. In 16 weeks, it has accumulated $115.1 million in receipts.

Also in the top five was “Taken,” a thriller from Fox starring Liam Neeson that landed in fourth place. It scored $10 million, bringing its U.S. total to $107.9 million.

Audiences seeking an escape have bolstered the industry’s U.S. box office revenue to $1.8 billion this year, up more than 17% from the same period last year. Some of that increase came from higher ticket prices, but much of the bump came from a 15.4% uptick in attendance, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media by Numbers.

Though the average ticket price is $7.29, the highest in history, not adjusted for inflation, movies are still considered a bargain compared with leisure travel, live concerts and amusement parks.

The reemergence of 3-D movies also is drawing filmgoers. Tickets for 3-D movies generally cost a few dollars more, but that didn’t deter fans who saw “Jonas Brothers: The 3-D Concert Experience.”

The Walt Disney Studios film debuted this weekend in second place, ringing up $12.7 million, the second highest opening for a concert movie after “Hannah Montana/Mylie Cyrus Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour,” another 3-D film from Disney that opened last year with $31.1 million.

“It’s an experience above and beyond the norm,” said Chuck Viane, president of distribution for Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. “A 3-D movie may cost you more, but it also brings you to a place you haven’t been before.”

Several studios are banking on digital 3-D to help maintain this year’s box office momentum. Disney, for example, has 15 3-D films in the works, including the planned November release of “A Christmas Carol,” directed by Robert Zemeckis. DreamWorks Animation Studios is releasing “Monsters vs. Aliens” this month. James Cameron’s “Avatar” from 20th Century Fox is scheduled to hit 3-D screens in December.

“If we keep going at this pace, we will be looking at an amazing year,” Dergarabedian said. “A $10-billion year for the box office is within reach. It’s just part of human nature to seek escape from reality when times are tough.”

WOOF !But, but, don’t forget we are supposed to sign their contract and give up our futures because of the failing economy. Yeah, right!

alex.pham@latimes.com

Just got off the phone with Scott, who is well into the fifth week of his vigil at 5757 Wilshire in front of SAG headquarters.

Apparently, it has just begun to rain there, and hopefully I was able to convince Scott, who has a bad cold, to at least get take a break during the rain. I tried to convince him that he, and his SAG Stalwarts, had done enough for today. I don’t know how successful the Ol’ Dog was; Scott and his Stalwarts, are a pretty determined group of SAG members.

Here is a photo of Scott and four of his most steadfast Stalwarts.

Pictured left to right; Dan Kelpine, “Brogee,” Henry Kinji, Scott and Thomas Furlano! Thanks guys for standing up for all of us.


Hopefully we’ll all get to thank you at the big rally Wednesday in front of Fox Studios, on Pico. Scroll to the bottom if this post for more details and a video message from Scott.

Now, if only, I can get a photo of one of the loveliest of the Stalwarts, Michelle.

The following article was published on The Wrap (http://www.thewrap.com) as usual the Ol’ Dog will add a few comments.

February 25, 2009, 12:46PM PST

Category: BIZ MOVES

By: Lauren Horwitch –

Updated: SAG’s White Responds to TheWrap

TheWrap investigates: Why didn’t the board vet the new executive director, whose consulting company was shut down because of its ties to Marc Dreier, a lawyer accused of a $380 million hedge fund scheme?

The consulting company belonging to the Screen Actors Guild’s new national executive director, David White, shut down shortly before he was hired because of his ties to a New York lawyer accused of a $380 million fraud scheme, Marc Dreier.

Dreier, who remains under house arrest in Manhattan, was arrested on December 7. White’s company Entertainment Strategies Group appears to have ceased operations that month.

A SAG official said that the guild was aware of this connection when White was hired.

But the new national executive director was not vetted until last Saturday at a board meeting, according to one member who was present but declined to be identified. White’s $400,000 contract was approved by a majority of the SAG board on Saturday.
White, a former general counsel at SAG, was hired precipitously by the guild on January 26 in the wake of the ouster of national executive director Doug Allen.
According to documents filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission 11 days before White’s appointment, his consulting company Entertainment Strategies Group is among 10 companies that were “in whole or in part, or controlled by, related to, or associated or affiliated with” Dreier.

Brown Woods George and Pitta & Giblin, the firm that represented SAG president Alan Rosenberg and Co. in its defunct suit to impede Doug Allen’s firing, are also among the ten companies associated with Dreier. Dreier’s assets have been frozen, including his interests in the affiliated businesses such as White’s.

White’s connection to Dreier does not mean that he was involved in any alleged fraud with the lawyer. But the timing of the closing of ESG, so near to White’s overnight hiring in the wake of Allen’s ouster, suggests that it might be something SAG members may have wanted to know.

White sent the following statement to TheWrap about his ties to Dreier, noting that he disclosed the tie before his engagement at SAG.

“ESG was a consulting firm established to help lawyers, talent representatives, producers and other entertainment industry professionals who struggle with the complexities of collective bargaining agreements.

“In addition to responding openly to questions asked about ESG and its investor, Marc Dreier, during the most recent Hollywood Board meeting, I shared this and other information about ESG with the National Board of Directors prior to its approval of my employment contract. ESG has ceased operations and I am focused on my job at SAG, which certainly requires all of my attention.'”

Asked why SAG had not publicly disclosed this information about White, SAG spokeswoman Pam Greenwalt declined to comment.

The board member who was at the closed executive session said the board did not have the opportunity to question White about his involvement with Dreier or about a list of ESG’s clients, which included the MPAA.

WOOF !Hmmm

The Wrap: White was not present at the meeting, though members of Membership First asked he be brought in for vetting. Instead opposing SAG factions debated how long the vetting should go on.
Former SAG president Richard Masur proposed the board question him for 15 minutes, but Membership First found 15 minutes to be unacceptable. Time ran out to approve Masur’s proposal and, according to new board rules, voting had to take place.

WOOF !A Whole Fifteen minutes? Hey, why not just take a few seconds to anoint him with Holy Water. Oh, wait the USAN/UFS “go-along-to-get-alongs” already did that with Richard.

The Wrap: “We were denied the opportunity to do a full vetting of [White’s] business and his link to Dreier,” the board member told TheWrap. “We saw [ESG’s client list] as a huge conflict of interest.”
The process of vetting usually takes a day, the board member said. “[Robert] Pisano took a day and a half. Steve Diamond took a full day. We go through the contract without the candidate in the room, then would have an all day Q&A with the candidate.”
Another board member said that the board did not have a problem with White’s association with Dreier. “It doesn’t imply that David did anything shady,” said that member.

ESG, which White established in 2006 with former SAG chief negotiator Sallie Weaver, consulted producers and other industry professionals how to navigate the guild’s labyrinthine collective bargaining contracts.
Two SAG members who called ESG in recent weeks told TheWrap that the business was still running as recently as two weeks ago. The group’s website has since been taken down.

Rank and file guild members have long criticized the guild for its lack of transparency and communication.

White declined to comment to TheWrap for this article, but he has gone on record about his involvement with Dreier.

In an article published a week after Dreier’s Dec. 7 arrest, White explained to the National Law Journal that Dreier was a “passive investor” in ESG and received a percentage of the company’s profits, but was “not involved in the operations at all.”

White said he was in the dark about Dreier’s backdoor dealings, as were hundreds of others who worked for the companies implicated in his schemes. “It’s pretty safe to say that anybody who was involved in any way, with this guy, either as a passive investor or any other way, was pretty shocked and outraged by the events that are unfolding.” He added that has ESG’s attorneys will investigate how Dreier’s charges could impact the company.

But according to John Provenzano, former controller of Dreier LLP, Dreier was more than a “passive investor” in the 10 companies. In fact, he might have paid White and Weaver’s salaries. In a declaration forwarded to TheWrap, Provenzano said the companies deposited their profits into an account over which Dreier shared control. In exchange, Dreier would pay each of the “partners” or “principals” fixed salaries and predetermined bonuses.

Source URL: http://www.thewrap.com/article/1579

Look, I think there’s a chance that David White could be a victim in the Dreier thing. Of course, no one knows until the whole thing is vetted, unlike David White?

Yes, he should be vetted for there’s a good chance that he will soon be permanent NED. Especially, if UFS does well in the next election.

Now, Peter Frank was not vetted on Hessinger’s departure when he became Interim NED, but he was a current employer, and it was made clear that he was to serve only on a temporary basis; in that it was immediately announced that a Search Committee would be formed to find a new NED. This hasn’t happened in regards to Mr. White.

To me, the important revelation was not the Dreier association, but rather the revelation that one of Mr. White’s clients was the MPAA. So, let’s see, we now have an NED, who until a few weeks ago, had as a client the MPAA, run by his old SAG boss and mentor, MPAA Head, former SAG CEO Bob Pisano.

Look, the MPAA and the AMPTP are joined at the waste, and run by the Studio/Entertainment conglomerate power bosses; the very same employers that we are currently negotiating with. And now, we have a Interim NED, David White, who will be right in there with John McGuire negotiating on behalf of SAG (Or will he?) against the same employers, who until only a couple of weeks ago, were his clients. (It would be sort of like hiring a lawyer to represent you in a case against an HMO, ah, the same HMO as he counted as one of his clients. One might say there was a conflict of interest there, you think?) *

Now, under those circumstances, is anyone going to tell me with a straight face there is not a conflict of interest involved. Okay, Richard and his gang, but, then, they don’t have straight faces anyway, do they?

And, they are the New York USAN/Branches AMPTP shills, who along with their UFS Hollywood Counterparts, have hijacked this union while giving aid and comfort to the MPAA/AMPTP, by repeating their propaganda, and hiring their guy.

Oh, the irony, SAG CEO Pisano agrees to be fired by SAG for $1.5 million in severance pay, and immediately goes to the MPAA—and now his protg, who he hired from his old law firm, O’Melveny and Meyers, to SAG as chief counsel, will be returning to SAG in Pisano’s old positionah, after shutting down his firm which counted Pisano and the MPAA as one of their clients.

It seems clear to the Ol’ Dog that with David “MPAA” White at the helm at SAG, and the USAN/UFS/AMPTP Firsters’ in control of the national board that producers will finally get their wish made back when SAG was formed over 70 years ago.A Company controlled guild SAG, the Screen AMPTP Guild.

So, what to do? Well, if you were like SAG’s Ralph Morgan Award Winner, Scott Wilson, you’d know what to do. You’d stand up to this New York and AMPTP takeover of SAG, and you’d join him next Wednesday ‘picketing’ at Fox studio–the studio that has been run by Peter Chernin.

You remember him, the guy who proclaimed that network reruns will be replaced by Internet reruns; which will, at best, give actors, both day players and series regulars, between $ 44/105 dollars for a years worth of unlimited reruns.

Here are a couple of messages from Scott both written, and on the Internet.

There is a RALLY this Wednesday, March 4, 2009 from 11am-2pm at Fox Studios, 10201 Pico Blvd at Motor Avenue. Unvalidated free parking across the street at Rancho Park.

Peter Chernin, CEO of Fox, has stated that there will be no reruns on Fox network, all programs will go directly to streaming on the internet, eliminating our residuals, contributions to health coverage and pensions. We must express our concern at this attack on our ability to earn a living and make it clear that we intend to vote NO on the contract.

In Solidarity
Scott Wilson

Now Link up to this video message from Scott:

http://vimeo.com/3403100

A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief WOOF !

*Raul Reformina

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Topics Colonoscopy Kathy in for “Uncle Joe” Vaughn, the Incompetents want SAG to lay low.

February 25, 2009 (19:10) | 2009, SAG Politics | By: Arlin Miller

Negotiations in New York, another task “Farce” and SAG Heros start the 5th week of their vigil outside of 5757 Wilshire. The latest ruse of the Herd Liners, the New York/Branches/UFS AFTRA First leadership obediently following ex SAG President Richard Masur, is that SAG should lay low on the TV/Theatrical contract and delay sending out a Strike Authorization vote because, well, with the commercial contract just cranking up in New York, they don’t want to have too many strike authorizations out there.

First off, if you think there is any way in hell, this joint negotiating team controlled by AFTRA, and New York/branches USAN “go-along-to-get-along” negotiators would strike, I got some GE stock I can let you have real cheap. (AFTRA and their SAG counterparts control the commercial negotiations 19 to 7.)

Here is the way it works, and has worked for at least the last decade that I have been active in SAG politics. AFTRA, with its 13 Herd Liner negotiating team, joins with USAN’ New York/Branches 6 Herd Liners to dominate Hollywood’s 7 so-called Hardliners, 19 to 7. That means as long as SAG negotiators bargain collectively, with AFTRA, which has about a 10% stake in the contract, will, by combing with USAN’s NY/Branches, dictate to Hollywood membership the terms of the contract they work under. This even though Hollywood’s membership works most of the contract. The only certainty is that the Herd mentality will prevail as the Herd Liners follow the JPC’s trail boss, which, of course, as all Western fans know, leads to slaughter.

On another subject, there has been a lot of loose talk about is that Membership First voted against rejecting the USAN/UFS motion to reject the last, ah, “last” final offer from the AMPTP. (Affectionately know as the “Turd Covered with Powdered Sugar” contract.)

What has not been mentioned is that the reason it was rejected by the Hollywood Board majority is because the USAN/Branch/ufs majority refused to attach a strike authorization referendum to it, so that the membership could actually have a voice in their contract.

Here’s how this Majority ruse was supposed to work. SAG’s leadership unanimously rejects the final offer, then SAG’s brave new lead negotiator returns to the AMPTP and loudly proclaims our leadership has rejected this contractah, not because of all the rollbacks, non-union stipulations, residual giveaways, etc. But that nefarious three-year stipulation which negates the “Impossible Dream” of Co Terminus guild negotiations. (Another ruse; It will be Dj vu all over again with the DGA, in cahoots with the AMPTP, stepping in and signing another sweetheart deal undermining the WGA and SAG. What about AFTRA? Please with their current leadership they can’t be undermined.

On yet another front there recently there was a panel discussion billed as ” How Will Labor Discord Change Hollywood?” What was telling to the Ol’ Dog was that Ned “Uncle Joe” Vaughn was scheduled to be a panelist but was replaced by Kathy “Colonoscopy” Joosten.

Ms. Joosten, a fierce anti unionist, was there spreading here SAG’s so weak, and the producers are so strong rhetoric. Just a few of her comments; she noted that multinational corporations are funding and making movies around the world “leaving actors, in a weaker negotiating position” Huh? This is not only producer propaganda, but rhetoric right out of the AFTRA/USAN/UFS playbook. You know we might as well rollover and give in because the all powerful producers don’t need us.

SAG hater made that clear in another statement: “the corporations ‘give two hoots in hell about us. We are a blip!”

Now some of you may think the Ol’ Dog is being unfair to Ms. Joosten by labeling her a union hater. Well here are Ms. Joosten’s own words about the great Screen Actors Guild:

“The sooner SAG crashes and burns, the sooner we can be shut of it. (Showfax March 4th, 2006)

“I am furious. I shall now ask for a financial core application and urge others to do so.” (Showfax: June 2008)

“No, I don’t like the union. I don’t like a colonoscopy either. But we put up with what we don’t like because it’s in our best interest. (Showfax August 3rd, 2005.)

Now, what I find interesting about the USAN/UFS AFTRA First group, is that, although they are aware of Ms. Joosten’s anti-union remarks, they haven’t once objected to them or condemned them. One can only surmise that’s because they share the same sentiments. Although they were elected to represent all of the membership, they like Ms. Joosten only do what is in “their best interest.”

Take on the other hand, someone like Scott Wilson, who is, not only, not looking out for his own best interest, but is, in fact, ignoring it with his courageous stance on behalf of his fellow actors, and actors of future generations.

I had an opportunity have a conversation over stogies with Scoot, and he is well aware of the consequences to his career, due to his actions on behalf of all of us, but he loves the Screen Actors Guild and all that it has done for him, and he wants to make sure future generations of actors have the same opportunity.

He is supporting all our young actors, hoping to assure that they will get residuals, pension and health, and all the other benefits, he, and I, and thousands of other members enjoy today because of the sacrifices of our predecessors.

Look, Ms Joosten is entitled to her own self-serving opinions; And I suppose USAN/UFS leaders could not get a better spokesman for their self-serving interest. But, I say, “thank God for the Scott Wilson’s of the world and all our other Ralph Morgan Award winners, and Membership First board members and supporters along with other loyal SAG members who have stood up for our guild and its membersalthough, I may not always agreed with them, let’s face it they are all stand between the SAG membership and the abyss that they and SAG are facing.

Speaking of Scott, he and his hearty band are into the first day of the fifth week of their ‘Vigil for Victory” over are adversaries. Scott will be at 5757 Wilshire until five today. (2/25/09) Join him or just drop by to say hi, especially you young actorshe’s standing up for you. It would be nice if you would stand by him.

A.L. Miller SW Editor & chief WOOF !

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