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What they’re saying on the Internet about the Hessinger Settlement

April 19, 2006 (19:01) | 2006 | By: Arlin Miller

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This from a USAN board alternate commenting on the Showfax Bulletin Board: … “How long do you suppose it will be before someone connects the dots and determines that we are paying more to people NOT working for us than those who do?”

WOOF ! And when they connect those dots the picture they get will most likely be one of ex CEO Pisano. Anyone care to guess how much SAG paid out to employee lawsuits during his tenure? I find it ironic that the very people that are bemoaning settling with Hessinger at a discount rate made nary a peep when SAG under Pisano settled a multitude of similar lawsuits.

On the same website, This from a Membership First board member: “Greg Hessinger might have made a great NED for S.A.G., however, I’m not sure he wanted the job after the results of the September election were in. Otherwise, why would he do what he did in hiring those three very controversial people, when he knew it would cause so much trouble?”

WOOF ! Although, Membership First voted overwhelmingly against hiring Mr. Hessinger, I can tell you from personal experience that every Membership First Board Member that I talked with wanted him to be a good NED–and was willing to give him a chance to do so. The Ol’ Dog even had a long telephone conversation with Mr. Hessinger, and found him to be extremely charming.

Unfortunately, NED Hessinger took on the same attitude toward the board as his predecessor and mentor CEO Bob Pisano!

Mr. Pisano felt that he was the final authority on SAG decisions ignoring the SAG Constitution, “Screen Actors Guild CEO Bob Pisano is clamming up. He has refused to tell SAG’s elected leaders whether he will take any disciplinary action against the execs that bungled last fall’s election. Nor would he disclose any details to the national board about the recent settlement the guild reached with an Asian-American exec fired last year from SAG’s affirmative action department.” (Variety 1/30/02)

In a show of unabashed arrogance, CEO Bob Pisano felt that he had the right to spend SAG funds without being answerable to the SAG board, and that’s the same tact that NED Hessinger took when he hired SAG senior staff employees to multi-year contracts estimated at more than a *money Million bucks without consulting, and later ignoring, the new leadership’s dictates not to do so. Both men blatantly ignored the SAG constitution, which is clear on the matter: “The general management and the control of the affairs, funds and property of the Guild shall be vested in the Board of Directors which is the highest governing authority within the Guild.”

Meanwhile, our erstwhile USAN board alternate had this bit of insight: “I will get into the waste, cost, and obscenity of the Membership First foot-dragging and opposition (and false election reruns) over the past four years anytime you want.”

WOOF ! It rather funny that these folks complain about Membership First election reruns, ignoring the fact that the only election rerun in recent history was demanded by candidates from both sides including Restore Respect Candidate for Treasurer Amy Aquino. Oh, and he somehow forgot to mention that members of his own USAN party are at this very moment trying to get our last election re-run. As to the money wasted, another poster itemized about *money 9 Million dollars wasted by RR/USAN during four years of the Pisano/Melissa regime on the Failed ATA referndum, merger, Pisano’s payoff and bloated executive salaries.

A poster on the SAG Actor Bulletin Board had this to say about the Hessinger settlement, “hopefully there’s not a pattern developing here. if the next prez is a restore respecter will it be tit for tat and the current ned gets shitcanned?”

WOOF ! I would respond that hopefully in the future, as in the case of the RR/USAN controlled board, a SAG Board will never again try and impose their will on future boards by signing a NED to a multi-year, unconstitutional contract abrogating those boards constitutional, and labor law mandated rights to control our union. Had Mr. Hessinger realized that it was the members and their elected representatives who run this union, and not a paid staffer, he would most likely still be SAG’s NED.

On this same website, a former board member, and Membership First supporter, had this to say, “This sum (rumored to be 500K) came out of SAG’s pocket? We have insurance to cover us when employees sue. Anyone know if our insurance will cover some or all of this? Plus — it was Bert Fields who negotiated this settlement. Mr. Fields has a stellar reputation as being a great lawyer. If he was only able to negotiate the 500k rumored amount — this is far less than Mr. Hessinger would have earned during the life of the contract. This yells me that Mr. Hessinger’s case might have been weaker rather than stronger — and both sides decided to compromise rather than risk the unknown results from a trial.”

WOOF ! The Ol’ Dog don’t know if insurance will cover the 500 G, but the poster makes a lot of sense. This would seem to be more in line with a nuisance settlement rather than one with a lot of merit. In any case, I would imagine that Mr. Hessinger will be receiving far less than the settlement money after paying Mr. Field’s hefty fee.

Anyway, the 500 grand was money well spent. 1.1 Million was saved on Mr. Hessinger’s remaining contract, not to mention the million saved on his clandestine, unapproved hiring’s. And should those have gone unchallenged, who knows how many more multi-year employer contracts SAG might have been saddled with. Oh, and let’s not forget that former AFTRA NED Hessinger wanted to fast track us onto another merger fiasco. The last one orchestrated by CEO Bob cost us 2.4 million dollars. Yes, I’d say we got off cheap.

In response to the Hessinger story on the Stunt Players forum an anonymous wag made this comment, “If this job is still open, I’m available! It’s OK if you don’t keep me the full term 4-year multi million dollar contract.”

WOOF ! Hmmm, I wonder if it was Pisano. Ah, no! He took his million dollar RR/USAN gift *gift and earned studio goodwill–and took his second gift *gift –as co-head of the MPAA.

A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief WOOF !

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SAG Board settles with Ex NED Hessinger

April 19, 2006 (19:01) | 2006 | By: Arlin Miller

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Feb. 15, 2006

SAG board OKs settlement with ex-CEO

By Jesse Hiestand

Hollywood Reporter

SAG’s national board has agreed to resolve a contract dispute brought by former CEO/national executive director Greg Hessinger over the union’s refusal to pay severance after firing him last fall, sources said Tuesday.

The board, which had been pursuing a legal strategy that it was not obligated to honor Hessinger’s contract, authorized the settlement at a meeting Saturday to pay some but not all of the $1.6 million that is due on the remaining 3 1/2 years of Hessinger’s four-year contract. Sources said the amount was in the range of $500,000.

Hessinger, who had retained attorney Bert Fields, and was not immediately available for comment.

SAG spokesman Seth Oster would not confirm the settlement but said the union would have a formal statement when it was finalized.

“The guild hopes to settle this matter in a mutually amicable way and is currently working to do that,” Oster said.

Hessinger was fired Oct. 23, only weeks after his political foes swept the fall election, giving them control of the national board and the right to fire Hessinger.

Hessinger, a respected union leader who had formerly headed AFTRA, was seen as an unwelcome holdover of the era of Bob Pisano, the former studio exec who faced fierce political opposition during his tenure as SAG’s CEO.

Hessinger, who was Pisano’s hand-picked successor, was sacked shortly after he hired former AFTRA execs Rebecca Rhine and John Russum without consulting SAG president Alan Rosenberg or others among the newly elected leadership.

Rhine and Russum are also seeking to require the union to pay off their contracts.

In all of these cases, SAG’s leadership relied on the advice of outside counsel who said that the Landrum-Griffin Act of 1959, which protect members’ interests by promoting democratic procedures in unions, can preempt California contract law. Essentially, it was being argued that in the interest of union democracy a newly elected group of leaders should be able to make their own staffing decisions.

If they are not settled, the disputes brought by Rhine and Russum could put that theory to the test in the courts.


This from Variety

Posted: Tue., Feb. 14, 2006, 6:11pm PT

SAG, fired CEO settle

National board agree to outlines of Hessinger deal

By DAVE MCNARY

Leaders of the Screen Actors Guild have reached a settlement with former CEO Greg Hessinger, who was fired five months into a four-year deal.

SAG’s national board agreed on the outlines of a deal with Hessinger during their weekend plenary meeting.

Hessinger had threatened last October to sue SAG if he wasn’t paid the remaining $1.4 million on his deal, then hired Bert Fields to represent him.

Hessinger wasn’t available for comment. SAG spokesman Seth Oster would not confirm details of the settlement, adding, “We hope to reach an agreement that is mutually beneficial and we are continuing down that path.”

Still unresolved are SAG’s October firings of Rebecca Rhine and John Russum from their respective posts of special adviser for strategic planning and deputy national exec director for organizing and agent relations. Neither had yet started work when they were dismissed; both have hired Gloria Allred’s firm for representation.

The firings came less than a month after control of SAG’s 69-member national board shifted to the more aggressive Membership First faction headed by president Alan Rosenberg. In a subsequent letter to SAG members, Rosenberg stressed that Hessinger’s ousting stemmed from the need for SAG to bargain and organize non-union work more aggressively.

But Rosenberg’s associates have admitted that the dismissals were probably triggered by resentment over Hessinger having not consulted Rosenberg before hiring AFTRA execs Rhine and Russum and ad industry exec JoAnne Kessler.

In addition, Membership First leaders were suspicious that Hessinger — who had headed AFTRA for five years before replacing Bob Pisano at SAG — would push for a SAG-AFTRA merger even though SAG members voted down such a combination in 1999 and 2003.

Kessler, who had been hired to head SAG’s commercial contract department, has returned to her executive post at Grey Worldwide and isn’t believed to be seeking a settlement with SAG.

Read the full article at:
http://www.variety.com/story.asp?l=story&a=VR1117938206&c=18

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New thesp hangout at SAG

April 19, 2006 (19:01) | 2006 | By: Arlin Miller

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Posted: Mon., Feb. 13, 2006, 10:00pm PT

Actors Center to provide community area for members

By DAVE MCNARY
Variety Magazine

The SAG Foundation has approved final plans for opening an Actors Center this spring at the SAG headquarters building in Hollywood — the first such facility for the 70,000 SAG members in the Los Angeles area.

“We’re doing this because there really isn’t a central gathering place for actors to go,” explained foundation director Marcia Smith. “Considering the foundation’s mission is to foster, develop and sustain an artistic community, actors in Los Angeles need this resource. They must have a centralized location that will nurture and support their quest to embrace this noble profession.”

The foundation’s board approved funding Monday to open the center in 3,500 square feet of vacant space on the mezzanine level of SAG’s headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard. The facility will be open to members of SAG, Actors’ Equity and AFTRA and serve as home to the foundation’s programs along with providing access to rehearsal space, computers and lounge areas.

The foundation’s board has OK’d spending nearly $1 million over the next five years with the goal of attracting enough donations by high-profile SAG members and others to move to a larger facility and launch similar centers in New York and at other SAG branches.

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This is great, the Ol’ dog ain’t had a place to hangout since the Raincheck Room closed.

A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief WOOF !

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AFTRA sets its “Table for Three” by signing the new miniseries to a contract.

April 19, 2006 (19:01) | 2006 | By: Arlin Miller

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Well, AFTRA staked its claim on the new nighttime dramatic mini-series “Table For Three,” and to its credit it has hit gold. The non-union series has signed on with AFTRA.

So, it looks like AFTRA has pretty much assumed the helm of digital dominance in its uncontested quest to make AFTRA “the future in Media.” In the meantime the Ol’ Dog has learned of casting calls that are out for two more dramatic (AFTRA) pilots.abd a scetch ccomedy Yes indeed, it looks like AFTRA may indeed fulfill President Connolly’s agenda “to regain its rightful (Digital) market share in hour dramas and sitcoms”

This announcement on the AFTRA Website:

AFTRA CONTRACT SETS “TABLE FOR THREE”
FOR PROFESSIONAL PERFORMERS

“Table for Three”a television series being produced for Fox syndicationis set for professional performers as the San Diego-based production is now covered under an AFTRA contract.

AFTRA negotiators announced the agreement with Gone Fission, Inc., producers of the 13-week (65 episode) closed-ended serial. “Table for Three” is the first of a series of English-language “telenovelas” that are part of a time block for Fox entitled “Desire.”

After the pilot was produced non-union, AFTRA began discussions with the producers to bring the show under an AFTRA contract.

Key to winning this agreement was the commitment by union performers and franchised agents who, as requested, submitted for this show with the condition that talent would be available only if an AFTRA contract was in place.

In addition, Screen Actors Guild and Actors’ Equity Association offered support in our effort to ensure that this show was produced under a union contract.

AFTRA members thank performers, agents, and our sister unions for their strong support that will help improve wages and working conditions for performers in San Diego.

For information about the AFTRA contract for this show, please contact Leslie Simon at 323-634-8118 or lsimon@aftra.com.


I talked with Ms. Simon and was informed that this miniseries will be produced under AFTRA’s National Network Code. And although much of the digital series will be filmed outdoors, it will be dealt with much like a daytime soap operaand yes, all you SAG day players that work the show, there will be an UNDER FIVE CATEGORY!

Some, bad news for the Love Monkey cast: CBS announced that they have got them off their back. (The Show has gone bye-bye, and so has the H&R benefits for all but the lucky few that made enough for AFTRA qualification. Too bad especially for those cast members who fall just a tad short of qualifying under SAG.)

A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief WOOF !

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SAG/WGA Protest Product Placement

April 19, 2006 (19:01) | 2006 | By: Arlin Miller

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Although the Ol’ Dog did not make it to the protest, I have put together a compilation of various stories on the event. (Yikes! Why do they have to have these things before noon) *zzz

Screen actors, writers protest product placement

By Jesse Hiestand
Hollywood Reporter
Thu Feb 9, 3:59 AM ET

Unions representing Hollywood actors and screenwriters staged their first joint protest over product placement Wednesday after being denied a chance to attend an advertising summit about branded entertainment.

About 200 actors and writers carried picket signs and chanted in front of the Beverly Hills Hotel as agents, producers and brand directors spoke to advertisers at the daylong conference. Passing cars honked in support.

Screen Actors Guild president Alan Rosenberg and the Writers Guild of America, West president Patric Verrone vowed to keep up the pressure until the industry agrees to establish a “code of conduct” governing product integration.

“Where are the voices of the creative community in this debate? Out here on the street,” Verrone said.

“We need consultation and eventually we need compensation,” Rosenberg added. “Whatever happened to artistic integrity? When did we lose the right to say yes or no?”

The unions launched a campaign against what they call “stealth advertising” in November, saying that it was unfair to force writers to weave advertisements into story lines that actors are required to read.

SAG and WGA have threatened to file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission unless producers open the issue to negotiation. Industry representatives declined comment on the issue Wednesday and, so far, they have refused to respond to the unions’ campaign.

Industry sources say that product integration has been around since the 1970s and that the networks and advertisers have a well-established system to govern the use of ads in scripted series since they must also balance the interests of producers and the public. It was also noted that the unions’ campaign appears to focus on the blatant use of product placement in reality television, a genre in which they do not have labor jurisdiction but are seeking it.

“I question their sincerity and their concerns about creative integrity of scripted programming when they’re asking for money and their only examples are reality TV,” said the source.

Union leaders said Wednesday that the practice is becoming more prevalent in scripted TV as well as features, especially when the ad revenue is a key source of funding.

Verrone said the top-level producers who have resisted product integration in the past are increasingly finding it harder to buck the trend since it is becoming an integral part of the business model as the networks look to offset production costs and the influence of digital video recorders.

“For actors and writers who are being forced to shoehorn products into their work — whether they fit or not — there are critical issues of creative rights, consultation and fair compensation,” Verrone said. “For the public, there is the serious matter of disclosure. Consumers, parents and all viewers have the right to be told when we are being sold.”

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

From SAG Website

ACTORS AND STORYTELLERS PROTEST EXCLUSION FROM ADVERTISING DEBATE LOS ANGELES (February 8, 2006)

Actors and storytellers staged a demonstration on Wednesday protesting their exclusion from an entertainment industry debate on product integration in TV and film.

The protest follows an earlier call by the Writers Guild of America, west (WGAw), Writers Guild of America, East (WGAe), and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) for the industry to adopt a “Code of Conduct” to govern the use and disclosure of such advertising.”The so-called debate occurring today is actually a one-sided how-to seminar featuring the conglomerates who control the media and the companies who place products.

Where are the voices of the creative community in this debate?” asked Patric M. Verrone, president, Writers Guild of America, west.

“For actors and writers who are being forced to shoehorn products into their work whether they fit or not, there are critical issues of creative rights, consultation, and fair compensation. For the public there is the serious matter of disclosure consumers, parents, and all viewers have the right to be told when we are being sold.”

“From the beginning, artists have made a simple and reasonable request regarding product integration: consult and compensate us,” said SAG President Alan Rosenberg. “The fact that we must hold a demonstration to be heard on this key issue affecting artists is sad evidence that the industry continues to refuse to engage us. Rather than meeting alone behind the ivory walls of a five-star hotel, producers ought to embrace artists in a conversation on this issue of mutual concern. So today we renew our call for that dialogue and re-pledge our commitment to protecting the rights of the men and women who create the images.”

Also participating were SAG board member Elliott Gould, Secretary-Treasurer Connie Stevens, SAG First National Vice President Anne-Marie Johnson, and reality storyteller Scott Miller ( Carpocalypse, American Dream Derby), along with dozens of actors and writers.

Verrone continued, “The flyer announcing today’s debate asked this question: ‘Where is the line between a seamless integration and an over-the-head, over-the top ‘commercial within content?’ We think that’s the wrong question, and it ignores the primary ethical questions that must be answered before products are woven into storylines.”

“Questions such as:*What are the internal standards used by networks and producers to govern the type of programming where integration orders can be accepted?*What ethical standards need to be in place to govern the placement of so-called stealth or subliminal advertising?*Should there be different standards for programs and films that are geared toward children vs. those aimed at adult audiences?*Should there be any product integration in children’s stories?

*Shouldn’t there be a “Code of Conduct” governing the use of products and the disclosure to the public of such placements?

*Shouldn’t storytellers and actors have the right to say no to objectionable product integration in stories?*Who, in the end, is responsible?

*Does it take intervention by the FCC to address these issues?

“The Writers Guild of America, west, Writers Guild of America, East, and Screen Actors Guild announced the call for an industry “Code of Conduct” governing product integration at a news conference in Los Angeles on November 14, 2005. They were joined by an associate dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication.

The guilds representing writers, storytellers, and performers raised the issue as the wave of product integration in television and film hit the *money1 billion mark in 2004, with an 84 percent increase in TV alone.

The proposed “Code of Conduct” calls for visual and aural disclosure of product integration deals at the beginning of each program; strict limits on such placement in children’s programming; a voice for creative artists as to how a product or brand is integrated into content; and the extension of regulations into cable television programming.For more information on the guilds’ product integration campaign, please visit www.wga.org.

From WGA Website

LOS ANGELES — Actors and storytellers staged a demonstration on Wednesday protesting their exclusion from an entertainment industry debate on product integration in TV and film.

The protest follows an earlier call by the Writers Guild of America, west (WGAw), Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) for the industry to adopt a “Code of Conduct” to govern the use and disclosure of such advertising.

“The so-called debate occurring today is actually a one-sided how-to seminar featuring the conglomerates who control the media and the companies who place products.

“Where are the voices of the creative community in this debate?” asked Patric M. Verrone, president, Writers Guild of America, west (WGAw). “For actors and writers who are being forced to shoehorn products into their work whether they fit or not, there are critical issues of creative rights, consultation, and fair compensation. For the public there is the serious matter of disclosure – consumers, parents, and all viewers have the right to be told when we are being sold.”

“From the beginning, artists have made a simple and reasonable request regarding product integration: consult and compensate us,” said SAG President Alan Rosenberg. “The fact that we must hold a demonstration to be heard on this key issue affecting artists is sad evidence that the industry continues to refuse to engage us. Rather than meeting alone behind the ivory walls of a five-star hotel, producers ought to embrace artists in a conversation on this issue of mutualconcern. So today we renew our call for that dialogue and re-pledge our commitment to protecting the rights of the men and women who create the images.”

Also participating were SAG Board Member Elliott Gould, SAG First National Vice President Anne-Marie Johnson, Secretary-Treasurer Connie Stevens, and reality storyteller Scott Miller (Carpocalypse, American Dream Derby), along with dozens of actors and writers.Verrone continued, “The flyer announcing today’s debate asked this question: ‘Where is the line between a seamless integration and an over-the-head, over-the top ‘commercial within content?’ (cq) We think that’s the wrong question, and it ignores the primary ethical questions that must be answered before products are woven into storylines.”Questions such as:
What are the internal standards used by networks and producers to govern the type of programming where integration orders can be accepted?

What ethical standards need to be in place to govern the placement of so-called stealth or subliminal advertising?

Should there be different standards for programs and films that are geared toward children vs. those aimed at adult audiences?

Should there be any product integration in children’s stories?

Is reality TV the Wild West for product integration because reality writers and editors are without recognized guild representation and thus without protection?

Shouldn’t there be a Code of Conduct governing the use of products and the disclosure to the public of such placements?

Shouldn’t storytellers and actors have the right to say no to objectionable product integration in stories?

Who, in the end, is responsible?

Does it take intervention by the FCC to address these issues?

“The Writers Guild of America, west, Writers Guild of America, East, and Screen ActorsGuild announced the call for an industry ‘Code of Conduct’ governing product integration at a news conference in Los Angeles on November 14 2005.

They were joined by an associate dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication.The guilds representing writers, storytellers, and performers raised the issue as the wave of product integration in television and film hit the $1 billion mark in 2004, with an 84 percent increase in TV alone.

The proposed Code of Conduct calls for visual and aural disclosure of product integration deals at the beginning of each program; strict limits on such placement in children’s programming; a voice for creative artists as to how a product or brand is integrated into content; and the extension of regulations into cable television programming.For more information on the guilds’ product integration campaign, please visit www.wga.org at the following link: http://www.wga.org/subpage_newsevents.aspx?id=1405.

The Writers Guild of America, west (WGAw) and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) represent writers in the motion picture, broadcast, cable, and new media industries in both entertainment and news.

The unions conduct numerous programs, seminars, and events throughout the world on issues of interest to, and on behalf of, writers.Screen Actors Guild is the nation’s largest labor union representing working actors. Established in 1933, SAG has a rich history in the American labor movement, from standing up to studios to break long-term engagement contracts in the 1940s to fighting for artists’ rights amid the digital revolution sweeping the entertainment industry in the 21st century. With 20 branches nationwide, SAG represents nearly 120,000 working actors in film, television, industrials, commercials, video games, music videos and other new media.

The Guild exists to enhance actors’ working conditions, compensation and benefits and to be a powerful, unified voice on behalf of artists’ rights. SAG is a proud affiliate of the AFL-CIO. Headquartered in Los Angeles, you can visit SAG online at www.sag.org.

Personally, the Ol’ Dog has no problem with Product Placement–as long as there is proper compensation and it is done in a subtle, non-intrusive manner.

A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief WOOF !

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