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Article by Backstage Mercedes-Benz Tempts Hollywood’s Kids with Non-Union Candy! SAG to the rescue with fi-core warning

April 19, 2007 (19:04) | 2007 | By: Arlin Miller

Well, Mercedes Benz drove into town with a non-union commercial in hand, and a push was on to get SAG members “a little down on their luck” to do a non-union project with apparently a promise by some agents that if they’d go fi core, there would be more goodies just around the corner–and of course, this towns most vulnerable actors, kids were also the target.

After getting the alert, the Ol’ Dog buzzed SAG’s Todd Amorde and learned that SAG had also got the word and that he, President Rosenberg, a couple SAG board members and another staff member were on there way to Alison Horn casting agency to hand out leaflets to those auditioning.

I quickly put together a story, rushed to my agent for a v/o audition,ah, union, and then it was over the hill to Hollywood, where I found Todd, Alan and the small gathering handing out leaflets.

The only one to beat me there was Backstage’s Lauren Horwitch. Who had apparently read the Ol’ Dog’s post and edged him out in getting there. After, quick hellos I took my position with a handful of leaflets and spent the next hour and a half, handing them out and chatting with actors heading into audition.

First off, from my interaction with those entering, if agents thought they would be successful, on this day, in convincing SAG members to betray their union and go fi-core, they weren’t all that successful as everyone I talked too was non-union. Including all the kids that moms had in tow.

It was all pretty low key, and cordial with many of the non-union actors taking time to chat about how much they wanted to become SAG members, while readily accepting the reading material that SAG was offering.

You can imagine my shock when I heard that Ms. Horwitch told Todd, and the others, that casting director Horn had complained to her about the behavior of our group interacting with those she had brought in for this non-union job.

Okay, I didn’t get there until about twenty five members after Todd, Alan and the rest arrived but, knowing those on hand, and observing their laid back approach, my guess is that Ms. Horn was more upset about them being privy to, and highlighting, her little Mercedes Maneuver than anything else. She apparently wasn’t all that concerned about the kids being brought in to be taken for a little non-union ride!

Todd Amorde, being ever the gentleman, even took the time to inform the mom’s that stopped to chat to read very carefully the contract they might be asked to sign. Oh, wait, I’m sure Ms. Horn would have done that, and if she hadn’t I’m sure the Mercedes-Benz folks would’ve been more than happy to oblige.

You know it ain’t like Mercedes-Benz hasn’t unloaded a few models in Hollywood over the years. You think? And how do they repay us, but by driving into town and offering our kids some of their non-union candy?

I don’t know about you but, just for that, I ain’t getting that Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren I was planning on picking up. The hell with ’em I’m sticking with the Black Beauty!

A.L. Miller

Just my luck Bombay Gin & H. Upmann will come in and try and pull the same crap! *toast

SAG protests non-union workGuild leaders organize demonstration


In a move signaling increased emphasis on organizing, SAG leaders have staged a two-hour demonstration urging members not to accept non-union work.

SAG prexy Alan Rosenberg and board members Anne-Marie Johnson, David Jolliffe and Anthony Desantis leafleted Thursday afternoon outside an audition at the Alison Horn casting agency in Hollywood for a non-union Mercedes-Benz commercial.

National director of organizing Todd Amorde noted the protest was the first such effort by SAG in several years in the Hollywood area. He indicated the guild plans to hold similar events in the future as part of an effort to devote more of its resources toward educating members about the ban on working non-union jobs.

SAG’s Rule One is an internal rule which explicitly bars members from working for producers who are not signatory to SAG agreements. Guild leaders have become increasing concerned in recent years over actors circumventing discipline under Rule One by seeking “financial core” status, under which a member resigns withholds dues spent by SAG on political activities but can still work on union jobs.

“We don’t have a beef with Alison Horn,” Amorde said. “We’re doing this to dispel myths about Rule One and going financial core.”
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This from Backstage

SAG Reps Protest Nonunion Commercial Call

Rosenberg addresses actors outside Mercedes audition.

April 27, 2007

By Lauren Horwitch

Screen Actors Guild national president Alan Rosenberg and several Hollywood board members made a surprise appearance yesterday afternoon outside an audition for a nonunion Mercedes commercial in West Hollywood. In addition to Rosenberg, Todd Amorde, SAG’s national director of organizing; national board member Anne-Marie Johnson; David Jolliffe, chair of the Commercials Committee and Hollywood Board alternate; and Hollywood Board alternate Anthony DeSantis, informed actors entering the audition of its nonunion status and distributed a flyer titled “Professionals Do Not Work Non-Union.”

Jolliffe said he learned about the audition the previous evening and coordinated the mild protest with Amorde, Rosenberg, and SAG executive director Doug Allen. “It hurts all of us,” Jolliffe said of the prevalence of nonunion work. “We’re just volunteering our time and trying to keep our union strong and vibrant.” He estimated the SAG reps talked with 1015 actors over roughly an hour and a half. The actors were a mix of union, nonunion, and financial core members. “Nonunion work and FiCore is killing us across the country — here in Los Angeles, too — but it’s a major issue across the country,” Rosenberg said. “Nobody wants to work nonunion. They’re just looking at it as their only alternative.”

“There are agents and casting directors out there who are encouraging people to go FiCore — that becomes an issue in our discussions with the [Association of Talent Agents],” he continued. Rosenberg recently initiated a series of member meetings to discuss plans for the union’s first new agency franchise agreement since 2002. He said similar actions at auditions could be expected as the union nears its key negotiations with employers in 2008.

DeSantis, a commercial actor himself, said SAG’s protest was not aimed at Mercedes or the casting director, Alyson Horn. “Alyson Horn is not somebody we have a problem with. We’re not here about her. We’re here about actors and just informing them what’s going on.”

“Doing nonunion work hurts the union’s ability to negotiate the best contracts for its members. Nobody wants to spend their life as a nonunion actor. And so why would you want to cripple the union’s ability to negotiate contracts by giving the advertisers and the production companies the talent pool that they can use? If everybody refused to do nonunion work, they’d all have to do union jobs,” DeSantis said.

Horn, however, said she “didn’t appreciate” SAG disrupting her casting sessions. “I have the right to cast union and nonunion commercials,” she said.

WOOF !Right, but SAG doesn’t have the right to handout flyers to inform actors what’s going on!

Horn added an unnamed agent called to say his or her client decided not to audition after being “bullied” by the SAG officials outside. According to Horn, the agent said the FiCore actor had been pushed by one of the union members distributing flyers.

WOOF !You’ve got to be impressed by that charge. An unnamed agent, files a complaint by an unnamed FI-CORE member!

Horn also questioned why SAG was objecting to union actors auditioning for a nonunion commercial, but the Guild doesn’t protest when A-list actors — such as Will Smith and Julia Roberts — appear in music videos, a genre outside of SAG’s jurisdiction.[‘/b] “SAG doesn’t seem to mind if a celebrity does something that’s outside of their rules, but they really seem to take offense when a hard-working actor who’s trying to put food on the table does something,” Horn said.

WOOF !The key in the above statement is that it is outside SAG’s jurisdiction! SAG also can’t complain when actors go on the Larry King Show or other shows under AFTRA jurisdiction that AFTRA is unable to organize. If AFTRA refuses, or is unable to organize this work then SAG should be given the opportunityand at that point any violation by ANY actor should be equally enforced. As to casting directors, I think SAG should franchise them, and they can be given the opportunity to choose between casting SAG members or non-union members.

Jolliffe and DeSantis said allegations of bullying or pushing are not true.



Your union needs you right NOW

April 19, 2007 (19:04) | 2007 | By: Arlin Miller


Just talked with Todd Amorde at SAG. It seems that Allison Horn casting at 1020 N. Sycamore is holding auditions for a non-union commercial and trying to encourage SAG members to go fi-core.

Our SAG president and others are heading there, right now with “Don’t Go fi-core leaflets to let members know what’s going on. They hope to be there by 2:00 PM

Why don’t you join them, I’m on my way there right now!

A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief WOOF !



NARC Scandal article: The Aftermath! BONUS Producers Prepare For Strike Top bosses plot to prevent strike

April 19, 2007 (19:04) | 2007 | By: Arlin Miller


Back in 2002 in the early formative stages of an ongoing impasse between SAG and powerful ATA/NATR agents, it seemed obvious that there was an orchestrated plan between the two entities, to persuade members to let power hungry top ATA/NATR agents become our employers.

The campaign, between SAG’s Restore Respect/USAN leadership and the ATA/NATR, to instill fear in SAG members was just too similar to be a coincidence!

At the time President Gilbert uttered those infamous words “We don’t want actors to have to choose between their agent and their guild,” the ATA/NATR was lamenting the same sentiments in the trade paper ads.

The writer of the “agent or your union” catch phrase ranks right up there with the creators of “Pay me now, or pay me later” and “where’s the beef.” Hey, when you have *money 700,000 grand to “sell” the membership a bill of goods, you can afford the best! And there can be no doubt that former studio executive, then SAG CEO, and current MPAA head honcho Robert Pisano didn’t mind spending SAG members’ dues money when they needed a little convincing.

Despite, all the money spent, and fear mongering proffered, the ATA/NATR “deal” failed in referendum. But due to the then leadership’s lack of the enforcement of SAG’s Constitution, mandating that members could only be with franchised agents, and the following failure to enforce the “Memorandum to Agents Memo” which warned agents that any violation of SAG’s Codified Agency Agreement would trigger 16G enforcement against violators–nothing was done when members came to SAG with GSA’s proffered to them by offending agencies.

The ATA/NATR faced off with the guild, and SAG’s leadership blinked! And to cover their lack of resolve, and faith in the membership, they continued with the mantra of the failed resolution, but, but “We don’t want members to have to choose between their agents and their unions!”

In fact, they repeated it so often that even some of those who stood up against it, are beginning to believe it. And why not? After all when your leadership goes for half a decade without standing up to those who defy them, and lets them flaunt your Supreme Court mandated rules, it is only natural that members would harvest seeds of doubt.

I often wonder if the current scenario might have been different if the writer of the “Agent or Union line” had instead put it in its proper perspective, “It’s up to ATA/NATR agents to choose if they want to represent SAG members or NOT!”

But, alas, that never happened, and it appears that the lone answer SAG has to a resolution, is to convince our membership that the only solution to the problem, is to once again offer recalcitrant ATA/NATR agents residual giveaways similar to those previously offered in the 2002 referendum. A residuals giveaway more extensive than the one that a 2000 SAG press release proclaimed would take TEN PERCENT more out members’ pockets.

And I’m sure the current message of appeasement to ATA/NATR agents is not lost on Nick Counter and the AMPTP.

“How can SAG stand up to their employers when they can’t even standup to their employees?”

In regards to the aftermath of the NARC scandal post, first I’d like to thank all the Ol’ Dogs readers for their encouraging remarks, most were appreciative for the information. I’d also like to think all you readers for coming through the Watchdog Turnstile, over 115,000 to date.

Although, Watchdog readers’ response was overwhelmingly positive, the same can’t be said for some of the reactions on actor related bulletin boards.

One suggested that the Ol’ Dog didn’t have a dog in the Hunt because the bulk of his income didn’t come through his agent. (No! W2’s weren’t provided!)

Another NARC Committee poster characterized my post in the following manner.

“No matter what anyone thinks, including and maybe especially the likes of Mr. Millers tawdry allegations and insults against highly respected members of the NARC.”

A Hollywood board member had this to say about my story,

“Saying that most of these people are working for their Agents and against S.A.G is a pretty harsh suggestion.”

Just for the record, here’s what I said,

“Before continuing, let me say there are some extraordinarily dedicated members on this committee. However, the problem is not so much who is on the committee designated to come up with a plan of dealing with ATA/NATR non-franchised agents, but rather who is not on it.”

But, then there are those who only see what they want to see.

If you’d like to read the posts check out SAG Actor Bulletin Board


And, the Showfax Bulletin Board,

On, a brighter note, I heard from SAG General Counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. We had a cordial conversation, and I found him to have a keen sense of humor. (Translation, he chuckled at a couple of my quips.) :D

Not only that, but he confirmed my position that according to Rule 16(G) of the SAG Constitution, it is a violation for a SAG member to offer “incentives and bonuses” to their agent–as one Hollywood Division NARC Committee Member has stated that he has always done.

Of course, if you are currently with a non-franchised ATA/NATR agent, I suppose you can give them a little on the side, platonically speaking of course.

I’m always amazed when someone speaks about SAG members choosing their agents over their union. Now, I have never actually talked to one who admits that they would do it, but, but it’s the other members they’re worried about.

My, my, wouldn’t it be just a dandy business, if only we let the ATA/NATR agents take over? We would ALL immediately be paying twenty percent, maybe even more if the labor commissioner decided that was reasonable. But, but, I’m sure that they would still let us share in some of those residuals. And, and, once they truly became our employers, and our collective bargainers, well, ah, come to think about it, maybe that part about giving them a little on the side might not be all that platonic.

Hey, forget about just some giving a little on the side. We’d all be screwed!

A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief WOOF !

The following is a Bulletin Board post I directed to those who criticized my NARC Committee Watchdog post.

Informed Membership!

It seems one thing that is missing in all of the rhetoric posted on this board, is that until my story, the Membership had no idea of the makeup of the NARC Committee.

Now that they do! A few on this board seem to be very unhappy about that, even though, some profess that the reason for the NARC Committee is to stimulate OPEN DEBATE. Apparently, that does not include posting FACTS, or opposing viewpoints.

My opinions are my opinions.

The fact remains that before my article, members did not know that the NARC Committee consist of THIRTY-FOUR members, only ONE of which has a franchised agent.

Apparently, some on this board do not subscribe to the adage that “an informed Membership is a strong membership!”

A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief

From LA Times

From the Los Angeles Times

Producers prepare for possible strike
Schedules for TV shows and movies are moved up ahead of contract talks with writers.

By Richard Verrier
Times Staff Writer

April 24, 2007

Gary Scott Thompson, writer and executive producer of the NBC show “Las Vegas,” won’t be taking a summer hiatus.

Instead of enjoying his usual three months off, he and his colleagues have been asked to write scripts and shoot most of next season’s episodes, presumably as a hedge against a potential Hollywood writers’ strike late this year. Starting Monday, new production for “Las Vegas” starts three months earlier than usual with the goal of shooting 18 or 22 episodes by fall.

The show “will be strike-proof,” Thompson said.

Anticipating a possible walkout, networks and studio executives are starting to take steps to keep production pipelines flowing. The contingency plans include pushing up shooting schedules, ordering more reality TV programs and renegotiating with writers to turn in their film scripts earlier than usual.

“They’re protecting their long-range business interests,” said chief studio negotiator J. Nicholas Counter, president of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

The early preparations come three months before what are expected to be highly contentious contract talks between producers and writers, with the central issue being how writers are paid when their work is shown over the Internet.

Guild leaders have alleged that studios are trying to scare writers by suggesting they are stockpiling scripts and shows. There has been little evidence of a large-scale stockpiling like there was in 2001, when fear of strikes by actors and writers caused a major acceleration of production.

“We’ve never seen stockpiling to be a significant negotiating strategy,” said Chuck Slocum, assistant executive director of the Writers Guild of America, West. “We don’t see any reason a deal cannot be reached and we look forward to negotiating to that end.”

Nonetheless, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” has started shooting its ninth season, two months earlier than usual.

“I firmly believe that the potential for a strike is much greater and more ominous than many people are saying,” said Dick Wolf, the show’s executive producer. “Therefore, we’re going to make as many episodes as possible before a strike takes place.”

Senior executives from the major studios met with Counter last week to discuss their strategies for negotiations, which will begin July 16. The current contract expires Oct. 31.

Rival networks and studio executives have been keeping their contingency plans under wraps not only from writers but also one another.

Although none would publicly discuss their plans, several Hollywood executives privately acknowledged that they were preparing for what could be the first writers’ strike since 1988.

Their plans include having some shows come back early to shoot additional episodes that could air during a strike and pushing up production schedules of midseason shows to as early as July instead of their usual September start.

Networks typically decide which shows they’re going to pick up just before the key advertising sales period in May and June. But this year has seen an unusually large number of early pickups, evidence not only of changes in the television industry but also strike preparations, analysts say.

“There are clear signs that networks are preparing their fall schedules as early as possible as a hedge against a possible strike,” said Carolyn Finger, vice president of TVtracker.com, an Internet-based research and consulting service.

Network business affairs executives are combing their libraries to identify which shows they have the rights to rebroadcast and to compile alternative schedules jammed with movies, news programs, reality fare and game shows.

Hit shows such as Fox’s “American Idol” are not only hugely popular, but they are also cheaper to produce than scripted programs. And most reality shows aren’t covered under the Writers Guild contracts despite efforts by the union to organize the booming sector.

This season saw 56 unscripted series across all the broadcast networks, up from 51 last year, according to TVtracker.com. CBS has five game show pilots in production, including shows hosted by comedian Drew Carey and MSNBC talk show host Tucker Carlson.

“The ramped-up reality slate is part of our regular program development for summer, fall and midseason programming, but these projects could be utilized if a strike does occur,” CBS spokesman Chris Ender said.

Film studios also have begun making their own strike preparations. Studio executives are more worried about the prospect of an actors strike in 2008 that could shut down production and already are adjusting filming schedules to ensure movies wrap before June 30 of next year, when the Screen Actors Guild contract expires. Pulling the plug on films in mid-production is expensive.

Among the most aggressive is 20th Century Fox, which has renegotiated with certain film writers to turn in their scripts earlier than usual as part of a plan to accelerate production.

As for “Las Vegas,” Thompson said he and his colleagues weren’t sore about working through the summer.

“Everyone’s worried about a potential strike,” he said, “so they’re happy to be working.”


Times staff writers Lorenza Muoz, Martin Miller and Claudia Eller contributed to this report.

If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at latimes.com/archives.

From Variety

Top bosses plot to prevent strike
Suits plan to propose study group


Hollywood’s top execs are finally sitting down to discuss a possible strike.

With worries mounting that upcoming contract talks will be both contentious and complicated, heads of studios and networks have confabbed in recent days to hammer out strategies for heading off a work stoppage.

The planning was capped by a Thursday morning powwow led by Nick Counter, president of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers. Heavyweights in attendance included CBS topper Leslie Moonves, Warner Bros.’ Barry Meyer, ABC’s Anne Sweeney, DreamWorks Animation’s Jeffrey Katzenberg and NBC’s Marc Graboff.

Those at the meeting, Counter told Daily Variety, resolved to propose to the unions in the next few weeks that both sides agree to the creation of a jointly funded outside study group to generate a report — a showbiz version of the report from the Iraq Study Group, headed by James Baker and Lee Hamilton.

In this case, the panel would be staffed by entertainment industry experts and examine the intricacies of how performers are paid for reuse of their work — both for traditional residuals and the proliferation of new-media platforms — along with creating new formulas that could be retroactive.

Counter stressed that specifics of how a study would be conducted are still in the early stages.

“We’re not yet at the bargaining table, so all kinds of strategies are under consideration, but I’ve been instructed to talk about the possibility of a study with the guilds,” he added. “A question like retroactivity could be subject to negotiation.”

Counter noted that there are precedents for such a study: SAG and AFTRA agreed last year to a two-year contract extension of their commercials contract so an outside consultant could analyze revenue streams; and Canadian performers unions recently agreed to hold off on resolution of some new-media issues until they can by studied further.

The basic premise of the study SAG and AFTRA agreed to last year is that digital delivery platforms had so muddied the outlook for future revenue that an outside expert was needed to analyze the best method of compensating actors in commercials.

“We think that conducting a study is a very responsible approach,” Counter said.

The initiative comes with preparations in full swing for the AMPTP’s negotiations with the Writers Guild of America. Talks start July 16 for a contract to replace the current three-year deal, which expires on Oct. 31.

WGA West assistant exec director Chuck Slocum told Daily Variety late Thursday that the AMPTP hadn’t yet approached the scribe union — and he questioned the need for such a study.

“My initial reaction is that the marketplace already has our product in it, so there’s a whole database of information already available that we can use at the bargaining table,” Slocum added. Negotiations are certain to be difficult given the WGA leadership, which is more aggressive than that at the other guiilds; its insistence on boosting members’ cut of revenues from new-media platforms; and its desire for jurisdiction over reality shows. As for the companies, they remain aggrieved over the WGA’s refusal to hold negotiations early this year in the face of Counter’s contention that the new-media issues are so complicated that both sides needed as much time as possible to hammer out an agreement.

The WGA’s elected leaders have insisted that waiting until July places them in a better position to evaluate the changes in digital platforms. And Slocum said new-media issues have become an increasingly prominent concern for guild members — particularly in light of such recent deals as those of CBS for a broad array of online distribution partnerships, announced April 12.

“We are happy every time we hear that they’ve found a way to make money off our members’ work because that means more money for our members,” Slocum noted. “The members are excited by what’s going on, and they want to know what we’re doing about it.”

The general problem, Slocum added, is that companies often contend that such Internet deals are promotional in nature — running for a limited time and designed to keep “bubble” shows on the air — rather than amounting to reuse, which would trigger residuals. Slocum noted that separate advertising has begun appearing on such shows, possibly deflating the argument that such Net programs are purely promotional.

“If it’s a whole show, then it’s a reuse,” Slocum added. “Companies like to perpetrate the idea that it’s all promotional.”

Joan Weise, AFTRA’s national director of entertainment programming, agreed.

“We are looking at these deals on a daily basis, and we’re scouring through them to find out which ones include reuse,” she said. “And we don’t agree with what the companies are saying about them being promotional.”

Weise also said AFTRA staff has received an increasing numbers of calls from members who discover their performances on the Internet, adding, “They’re frustrated that this is happening.”

Queried about the idea of a study, SAG exec director Doug Allen said the guild’s been discussing the suggestion but added that it’s too early for SAG to respond. Its contract expires in July 2008 along with the DGA’s.

The notion of revamping the entire residuals system has been broached previously by the companies, notably during the 2004 contract negotiations with the Directors Guild of America. During those talks, in response to the DGA’s proposal for a hike in the longstanding homevid formula, the AMPTP responded by proposing that such a change was only possible if the DGA were willing to change the basic formulas of the residuals system — in this case, switching to recoupment formulas, under which the most successful shows would have probably received even more money while the residuals for other shows would have likely been scaled back.

The DGA decided against taking that step, opting instead for a deal that included significant pension and health gains. The WGA and SAG agreed to similar terms a few months later.

The companies and the unions haven’t ever really been on the same new-media page, with the guilds routinely blind-sided over announcements about new platforms.

ABC and the unions had a well-publicized clash early last year over the network paying a lower homevid rate for “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives” shows purchased through iTunes. The unions reached a pact at the higher pay TV rate with ABC over mobisodes for “Lost,” but that’s been mired in arbitration.

On the guild side, preparations for upcoming negotiations are accelerating:

? Top elected reps of the WGA West and WGA East are meeting this weekend about negotiations, with the negotiating committee expected to issue its “pattern of demands” within the next few weeks.

? SAG’s national board will be briefed on new-media issues this weekend by staff and by its new-media committee. It’s also expected to name the head of its new-media department soon.

? AFTRA announced this week that it had formed a new-media group of execs, which will report to the national board on April 28.

? The DGA has been conducting a new-media study since late last year.

SAG’s Allen told Daily Variety that the national board’s consideration of new-media issues is informational, with nothing attached as a voting item. He also stressed that SAG’s been active in sharing new-media info with the other unions.

“We want to be sure that actors are fairly compensated whenever their image is used,” he added. “Our internal research has been focused on new media and technology. We don’t have a higher information priority.”

Allen also brushed off the idea of SAG extending the film-TV contract for the purpose of conducting a study, adding, “I don’t think there’s a lot of interest in delaying the negotiations.”

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Watchdog Exclusive Expose. The NARC Committee Scandal: Disenfranchising SAG Members with franchised agents.

April 19, 2007 (19:04) | 2007 | By: Arlin Miller


In their fervor to franchise non-franchised ATA/NATR agents, it appears that the NARC, National Agency Relations Committee has, by omission, disenfranchised those members with franchised agents.

Before continuing, let me say there are some extraordinarily dedicated members on this committee. However, the problem is not so much who is on the committee designated to come up with a plan of dealing with ATA/NATR non-franchised agents, but rather who is not on it.

In an investigation that included hours of research on the Internet, the Watchdog has learned that of the THIRTY FOUR MEMBER NARC committee, only ONE member has a FRANCHISED AGENT.

With the exception of a couple of members who apparently have NO agent whatsoever, ALL the other NARC committee members–that are supposed to be acting ONLY on your behalf in decision making policies regarding ATA/NATR agents–are THEMSELVES, the clients of those very agents–raising the question of conflict of interest.

Here’s a breakdown of the National Agent Relations Committee.

(Since the ATA/NATR agents are associated–and neither is franchised. In the context of this breakdown, ATA will be a designation for both.)

National Chair: ATA agent
NYD Division Co-Chair: ATA agent
RBD Division Co-Chair: ATA agent
(There are NO members with franchised agents on the National Chair, or two Co-Chairs.)

Hollywood Division:

Of the SEVENTEEN Hollywood Division Committee members including the alternates: SIXTEEN have ATA Agents. ONE has no agent listed. (There are NO members with franchised agents on the committee.)

New York Division:

Of the SEVEN New York Division Committee members, SIX have ATA agents, ONE has NO AGENT listed. (There are NO members with franchised agents on the committee.)

Red Division

Of the SEVEN RBD Division Committee Members, TWO have ATA agents, FOUR have NO agents, and ONE has a franchised agent. (It should be noted that the ONE committee member with a franchised agent is a supporter of the Restore Respect/USAN leadership that campaigned in favor of the ATA/NATR referendum giving agents 20 percent employer ownership opportunities–along with a bigger piece of your residual pie.

Now, supposedly the reason there is an overwhelming number of ATA/NATR members on the committee is because they are the only ones with a dog in this hunt!. One might justifiably respond that they are “the only ones with a dog on a leash!” in this hunt. But that would be counterproductive.

The fact is that those members with franchised agents will be just as effected by the NARC committee actions as those with ATA agents.

Let’s face it if they convince the membership to give up residual commissions not only will those with ATA agents be effected but so will those with Franchised Agents. We all have a dog in this hunt, therefore, both franchised and non-franchised dogs should both be equally involved.

What needs to happen immediately is that the NARC Committee Chairperson President Alan Rosenberg, who bears direct responsibility, should reconstitute this committee immediately so that it is reflective all of the members with a dog in this hunt.

After all, President Rosenberg has promised to unite the guild! Does he really believe such a divisive action as padding the NARC Committee with those with ATA agents, while all but ignoring those with franchised agent is going to unite us?

If he doesn’t straighten this out, the Ol’ Do is predicting that President Rosenberg can expect the same response to his Outreach Slide Presentation when it reaches Hollywood, that was received by President Melissa Gilbert when she presented her ATA/NATR Giveaway proposals at an informational meeting at the Universal Hilton.

This realignment of the committee needs to be done, not only because it is the right thing to do, but also, because if this committee continues as it is, a committee made up of primarily ATA/NATR clients, the inference will be that there is a conflict of interest.

Now, even though, I respect the integrity of the NARC committee members that are repped by ATA agents, there can be no denying that besides “possible” subconscious responses of self-interest. There can be tremendous pressure put on them by their agents, to as Tony Soprano might put it, “do the right thing.”

This pressure can be applied by subtle application, or as in the “Not so subtle manner” in the case documented below!

The following letter was sent out to clients of T.J. Escott, who not only heads his own agency Cunningham Escott Dipene, but also at the time was a Vice President of the ATA, Association of Talent Agents.

Here’s just a short segment of one article to give you an idea of what the tenor of those two articles included.

And how about this from Peter Bart of Variety

Personal observation, in comparison to Bill Daniels, Peter Bart has Balls the size of a Knat. While Mr. Daniels risk his career for this union, as demonstrated by Bart’s article, in the Ol’ Dog’s opinion, Peter Bart’s main concern is which designer knee-pads to wear when he dines at the latest trendy restaurant with the current hotshot agent or producer.

Since, the NARC is currently constituted with mostly SAG members with ATA/NATR agents, this in the minds of many explains its rather meek approach of appeasement toward these agents, rather than one of strong action .

I’ll sort of end with this thought. If indeed agents do deserve a bigger piece of our pie, rather than offer it to those ATA/NATR agents who have shown their total disregard for SAG members–by ignoring our constitution–why not set up a meeting with our loyal SAG FRANCHISED AGENTS –and any other non-franchised agents that may decide to attend.

Let’s sit down without them, and honestly discuss what we can do to strengthen our already proven bond, while at the same time making any fair realignments in our Basic Codified agreement that would serve both parties that have for so long a period of time, loyally served each other.

A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief

P.S. to our SAG President: If and when you decide to more equitably align the NARC Committee, there is one Hollywood committee alternate member that has stated that he gives “incentives and bonuses” to his agent in excess of the ten percent allowed by the SAG Constitution.

And when confronted with the dictates of our constitution, SAG’s Codified Agency regulations, Section 1V, B., which states,

“A member of SAG may make a contract more, but not less, favorable to him than the form of contract specified in the Regulations.”

And SAG’s Codified Agency regulations, Section XI, A (1)

“No contract of an agent for agency services rendered or to be rendered to an actor may specify a higher rate of commission than ten percent(10%)of the compensation or other consideration received by the actor for services rendered in the motion picture industry or under contracts for such services.”

He rejected SAG’s Constitution, and his final response was,

Arlin: “My lawyer says I’m right. Should we sue each other? If we do, I’m gonna take your house and everything in it… fair warning.”

In fairness to this NARC committee alternate, he obviously has never seen my house or what’s in it.

But, threats aside, it seems that our membership is not being well served, when one of our NARC Committee members admits to giving his agent “incentives and bonuses” in direct violation of the very Basic Agreement he is supposed to uphold on our behalf.

President Rosenberg, if you wish to confirm who the member is check with SAG’s esteemed Chief General Counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. I called him on the matter, talked to his secretary, and followed up with an email with all the pertinent information, but apparently he has been too busy to respond. Well, it has only been ten days.

I’d complain to SAG NED, Doug Allen, but, but, about the same time of my unsuccessful correspondence with Mr. Crabtree-Ireland, I sent him an email concerning another NARC Committee matter–and he has not bothered to respond either.

Come to think of it, I requested some information to clarify a statement in the ATA Outreach presentation to a senior staff member who normally is very helpful, and as of yet, have gotten no response their either. Yikes, it beckons back to the Sallie Weaver days.

You think, maybe the Ol’ Dog is becoming Persona non grata because of his pesky post? Naw! But then again, I am only a member, and lately many of us are beginning to feel like that places us at the bottom of the Totem pole!

Actually, in fairness, again, maybe my emails were accidentally misfiled in that same file where they eventually found my letter to the Screen Actor Magazine.

Hmmm, maybe if I had an ATA agent, I could get him to send an email on my behalf? Naw, with my luck, I’d just end up on the NARC Committee.

A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief WOOF !

*In regards to those six NARC committee members that I could find no agent for, it does not necessarily mean that they don’t have an agent, but just that I couldn’t find one. But anyway you look at it; I was only able to confirm one member with a franchised agent, while confirming 27 out of the Committee’s 34 agents were represented by the ATA/NATR!



SAG Deputy General Counsel Bennett Broadway Bound You may have a letter dues from SAG!

April 19, 2007 (19:04) | 2007 | By: Arlin Miller


SAG Press Release


Los Angeles (April 12, 2007)Screen Actors Guild today announced the appointment of Jeffrey Bennett as deputy general counsel based in SAG’s New York office, effective May 1, 2007. Bennett currently serves as counsel at SAG’s national headquarters in Los Angeles. In his new position, he will report to SAG General Counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland and will be responsible for managing the operations of the Guild’s New York-based legal staff, as well as oversight of all legal affairs and strategy in the eastern U.S.

Bennett came to the Guild in 2000 as a business representative in the Residuals Claims Department. He joined the Legal Department in 2002, where he played a pivotal role in the Judgment Realization Project team overseeing the Guild’s film foreclosures.

“Jeffrey’s Guild experience, valuable industry background and strong commitment to advancing the interests of actors make him the perfect choice,” SAG General Counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said. “I look forward to working closely with him to further the goals and objectives of the Guild.”

Prior to joining SAG staff, Bennett worked in business affairs at the William Morris Agency and in entertainment law as a partner in the law firm of Bennett, Callie and Helmer, where he represented creative artists. Currently an adjunct professor of entertainment law at the Western State University College of Law, Bennett received his Juris Doctorate from Whittier Law School in California and his Bachelor of Arts in history from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio.

The Ol’ Dog congratulates Mr. Bennett on his new job, and wishes him the only the best in the Big Apple.

A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief WOOF !

Readers of the Watchdog know that, in an effort to get SAG news to our readers, our approach is usually light hearted. On days like today that ain’t always easy. But, nevertheless, it is news that effects the lives of SAG members, and should be reported.

Unfortunately, my next story, about a SAG scandal is one which has such enormous repercussions to our membership, even the Ol’ Dog can’t find any humor in it.

To make matters even worse, a cough from a damn cold lingers on. Hmmm, I could take Nytol, or hmmm, yeah, the perfect remedy. *toast

April 16, 2007

Dear Screen Actors Guild Member:

We regret that the April 2007 SAG dues bill we recently mailed to you is incorrect. Specifically, your March 2006 earnings were entered twice; therefore, the amount of dues you were billed was calculated on incorrect 2006 SAG earnings. Approximately 25% of Guild members were billed incorrect amounts.

Your corrected dues bill will be mailed to you within the next two days. PLEASE USE ONLY THIS REVISED BILL TO PAY YOUR DUES.

If you have already sent your dues payment for the incorrect amount, we will mail a refund check to you for the amount you overpaid within one week of our receipt of your payment, and we will credit you with correct payment of your dues.

Please be assured that this situation will not impact your ability to be cleared to work on SAG productions.

The Guild’s membership services department staff, led by Elisa Mita, Director of Membership Operations, is available to answer your calls at 323-549-6787, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time (PDT).

If you prefer, you may reply to this email with your questions or email membership services directly at memberhelp@sag.org and membership services staff will respond as soon as possible. To speed processing of your inquiry, please include your Guild identification number in your email.

We apologize for the inconvenience this will cause you and want you to know that we have taken steps to ensure that it does not happen again.


Doug Allen
National Executive Director

If you don’t get a letter then your dues bill was correct.