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Voices of discontent, and disinformation: The Ol Dog’s response to that V/O letter to SAG President Alan Rosenberg and the board.

April 19, 2005 (20:23) | 2005, SAG Politics | By: Arlin Miller

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The Following is an email sent to President Alan Rosenberg and the SAG Board. It was sent by a group of SAG members who identify themselves as “Coalition of SAG Performers for a National Union!” What they fail to mention is that they are primarily a coalition of voice-over actors. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but you’d think that they might mention it.

As usual, the Ol’ Dog has added a couple of clarifying comments.

—–Original Message—– From: Keri Tombazian
Sent: Monday, November 14, 2005 3:00 PM
To: member2member
Subject: FW: The following letter was sent to Alan Rosenberg & SAG Board Officers today – feel free to forward…

—— Forwarded Message
From: info@coalitionunion.com
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 2005 10:11:30 -0800
To: info@coalitionunion.com
Subject: The following letter was sent to Alan Rosenberg & SAG Board Officers today – feel free to forward…

Fellow SAG Performers, The attached letter was send to Alan Rosenberg SAG Prexy and his Board Officers today. Feel free to forward this to other concerned SAG performers. We urge you to also draft and send your own letters of concern; if you do, please CC: info@coalitionunion.com with a copy. We will contact you shortly about actions coming up in the near future. Thanks for your support.
Coalition of SAG Performers for a National Union
info@coalitionunion.com (323) 692-2885

Monday, November 14, 2005

Alan Rosenberg, President
Screen Actors Guild
5757 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Alan; We, the undersigned Hollywood SAG members collectively earn over $10,000,000 annually under the SAG TV/Theatrical, Commercial, Animation, and Interactive agreements.

WOOF ! By starting their letter flashing their bankrolls, my fellow voice-over performers seem to be indicating that their infusion of money into SAG coffers somehow makes their voices more entitled to be heard than their fellow members who have not been as successful! The truth is that THEY have not generated money to SAG, but rather SAG has generated money to THEM! It’s not like THE WORK WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN DONE, or other members wouldn’t have done the work, if they hadn’t been available. Successful SAG members must never forget that if it weren’t for the collective bargaining power of all our members, they would have to settle for whatever table scraps employers deigned to pay them.

We are writing to you to express our concern over issues that have emerged since the recent SAG election. It is with alarm that we see the same Membership First players who took us out on strike in 2000, again staffing the Commercial Performers Committee.

WOOF ! Along with a little humility, I would also suggest that those who authored this letter do a little homework, before repeating political propaganda with no basis in truth. Here are a few facts: The Coalition of SAG Performers for a National Union might want to digest before repeating unsubstantiated “strike” lies concerning Membership First. The fact is, not only did the 26-member 2000 negotiating team, only 7 of which have any relationship to Membership First, vote unanimously to go on strike. Their recommendation was passed unanimously by over 200 members of the joint AFTRA/SAG boards, and then was overwhelmingly approved by the membership. Five months into the strike, the vote to remain on strike was again passed unanimously–and in fact the vote to end the strike was virtually unanimous. The facts are irrefutable. In fact that is why those making their bogus charges have never bothered to try and refute them. “When confronted by the truth, they stand by the lie!” Now, if any of the signatories to this letter have any documentation contrary to that posted above, then produce it. In the meantime, as long as you continue to spout blatant lies, you will deservedly lose credibility with SAG’s membership.

We ask that the Negotiating Committee be selected to reflect all perspectives regarding this important contract and that the outcome not be predetermined.

WOOF ! One can only doubt the sincerity of this request, since according to David Jolliffe, the Chairman of the Committee, NOT ONE of the signatories to this letter has asked to be on the committee. Perhaps instead of spending their time complaining in an ill-informed letter to our guild’s president, they should take the time to get in touch with Mr. Jolliffe at SAG– and ask how they can best serve. Mr. Jolliffe has stated:

“We will be having Commercial W&W’s to prepare for the upcoming Negotiations. ALL the people listed in the letter from Ms. Tombazian are welcome to participate in that process. The last W&W’s that I Chaired were the most open and attended in our Unions history. (Approximately 80 in Hollywood alone) ALL working, and concerned performers, are always welcome to serve. The Negotiating Committee itself will be chosen from those who show up to the W&W’s and do the work.” (David Jolliffe Chairman of PNC)

We are witnessing numerous election challenges based on SAG Board members’ association with an alleged spammer and the alleged spamming of SAG members & Staff during electoral processes.

WOOF ! The irony here is that the voice-over senders of this letter have used a “professional” spammer coalitionuion.com to forward their message condemning a fellow SAG member for basically doing what they are doing. Only the person they’re unjustly charging with unlawful spamming didn’t use a professional spammer but prevailed on a friend with the proper software to forward his emails. Hmmm, I wonder how these voice actors accumulated so many emails that they required the services of a “professional” spammer? Okay, the Ol’ Dog is being a tad facetious to make a point. Anyone without the proper software who has a large accumulated email list needs someone to help disseminate that email! Just as those V/O performers who sent this email! And just as those being unjustly charged in the Vulich case.

We ask that these charges be considered seriously and not ignored by the Elections Committee before they are referred to the Department of Labor for adjudication and our union’s credibility further damaged in the industry.

WOOF ! Apparently, no one has bothered to inform these folks that those spammer charges have already been filed with the Department of Labor. When informed by the DOL that SAG’s spammer charges against Vulich, a makeup artist, would be denied, and given the opportunity to withdraw their charges, SAG General Counsel David White did so. Unfortunately, after all the hype in the press, he was apparently too embarrassed to inform the membership of his DOL Debacle.

We hear that the Board is considering enforcing Rule 16G which would be suicidal for SAG. In order to keep working, the vast majority of Hollywood’s 5,000 working actors would reject the union in favor of their agents who get them work.

WOOF ! Enforcing our rules would be suicidal? These people just don’t get it. To the contrary, not enforcing them is what would be suicidal. Look what ignoring the rules has done for financially strapped AFTRA and their tottering Pension and Health plan. Now, among the most outrageous baseless statements in this letter, their Rule 16 declaration is the most harmful to our union. They proclaim in defiance of SAG history and with absolutely no factual evidence to back it up “that in order to keep working, the vast majority of Hollywood’s working actors would reject the union in favor of their agents that get them work.” (First off agents DON’T GET YOU WORK! You get it! Are they helpful, of course! Are many of them good folks? Yes! Will most of them drop you if you go long enough without getting work? Hello? Has anyone of them offered you a pension and health plan lately? Oh, and tomorrow why don’t you go down and check out their friendly credit union. Hey, how about this, why don’t you go to them and ask them to front you a couple of grand because you are upon hard times! Yeah, right!)

Oh, by the way, SAG held several meetings with high-profile members on this subject, and in all those meetings only two borderline high-profile members indicated that they would choose their agents. Therefore,the statement about 5000 members deserting their union to keep working, is most likely engendered by what is known as the Farrell Syndrome, Projecting ones traits and tendencies onto others. And it is just more of the RR/USAN fear mongering that is easily shot down by the 2000 strike. Except for a handful of scabs, 120,000 members did not “reject their union in favor of their employers–that ACTUALLY EMPLOY THEM!” It also brings into question the loyalty to SAG of anyone who would make such a statement. Surely, the signatories of this letter would not accuse 5000 of their fellow SAG members of doing something that they would not do.

Before any action is taken we ask that an outside company survey SAG actors vested in the Medical Plan about their opinions & intentions regarding the franchise issue, and that the results be promulgated publicly and reviewed by the Board.

WOOF ! Hello! We’ve already had something better than an outside survey. It was a democratic Referendum, and the membership made their voices heard loud and clear on the agency issue. Fortunately, we now have a president that will act on their wishes and enforce our rules before it’s too late.

We recently witnessed the firings of SAG executive staff again — gestures which will cost us millions of dollars in members’ dues, possibly putting the Board in breach of its fiduciary duty and precluding SAG from finding quality executive leadership in the future.

WOOF ! The statement that the firing of Ex-NED Hessinger will cost us $ millions of dollars in dues money is only supposition at this point since no suit has been filed. However should one be filed, any responsibility of wasted dues money would be the responsibility of the previous RR/USAN Board that saddled us with Mr. Hessinger’s unprecedented carte blanch FOUR-YEAR contract that took away our boards duly authorized powers–and subjugated members constitutional and federal rights to a paid staff member!

Once again, I would suggest that all of you who have signed the letter to President Rosenberg read the constitution. If you did, you would see that according to Article V of the SAG Constitution, the highest and final authority on what goes on in our union belongs to our National Board and it cannot be abrogated to any member of staff! To do so would violate federal labor law enabling one group of leaders to irrevocably impose their power over future leaders, as was attempted in this case.

RR/USAN board members who saw the writing on the wall hired Mr. Hessinger (at the behest of departing SAG CEO and current producers’ front man, Bob Pisano) to a Four Year contract just a few months before their anticipated political demise (the writing was on the wall after their decimation in the previous Hollywood election.) in order to have their “go-along-to-get-along” guy in through the next TV/Theatrical negotiations. And in doing so, they tried to abrogate three future boards ability to make important decisions concerning SAG’s future, including the hiring of senior staff to help us negotiate fair contracts.

They tried to give NED Hessinger the autonomy to disregard the wishes of future boards to challenge the hiring of such employees as ex co-head of the 2000 strike’s JPC Negotiating Committee, Joanne Kessler as SAG’s Executive Director of Commercials. (An indication of the forgiveness of her former employer Grey Advertising; they have taken back an employee that many less magnanimous advertisers might have considered a turncoat.)

We request that the probable costs to SAG of a protracted legal battle be carefully studied and a determination made as to whether or not it is in the best interest of the Guild & its members to engage in a battle with “winning” defined as avoiding legal and moral responsibility for binding contractual commitments that the union made and that these individuals relied upon.

WOOF ! I agree let’s have a study! But instead of limiting it to the Hessinger Firing let’s include what has gone on during the last four years under Pisano, Melissa and gang. Let’s find out why CEO Bob was instrumental in a profit sharing deal made between Netflix and the studios back in 2000, but neither SAG staff, or members, knew anything about it until it was revealed by the Bower/Wilson suit against HIM in 2004. And it would be nice to know how much as been wasted on the bogus Vulich lawsuit, and how much it will cost us because SAG General Counsel David White, under the direction of Bob Pisano, interjected us in a lawsuit not against the guild but against Pisano. Oh, and Let’s have a study on how much money was wasted on Consolidation. Let’s find out why we only had SIX senior staff members making over $100,000 when Pisano was hired and why at last count we have TWENTY-EIGHT!

And, perhaps, it can be explained why Pisano’s ballyhooed staff cuts resulted in 125 less employees but staff salaries from 2000/2001 NEARLY DOUBLED from $11,679,569 dollars to $20,166,347 dollars by 2003-2004. Ah, and, speaking of Hessinger let’s find out why at the last membership meeting, his justification for all the recent cutbacks in membership services was because of a lack of funds, while at the same time, he was in the process of hiring his cronies to multi-year contracts that would amount to over *money A MILLION DOLLARS!


The 2000 Commercials strike helped to foster a now-permanent non-union Hollywood commercials industry resulting in less P&H and fewer jobs for SAG members something working members can attest to.

WOOF ! You know, to be honest, sometimes I think that you guys just set around and make this sh*t upor have it made up for you. In first place, SAG’s current commercial earnings are anticipated to be the highest in SAG history, $800 MILLION DOLLARS! And if SAG had not stood firm during the strike staving off the elimination of class “A” spots, and had not received a 140 percent increase in cable, our P&H would be in jeopardy–and that record-breaking $800 Million dollars would more than likely be in the neighborhood of $500/600 Million dollars.

Never before in the history of commercial production has a producer been able to so easily find non-union commercial talent agents, non-union casting houses, and a burgeoning non-union and financial core workforce of performers — all heartily grown as an answer to our commercials strike.

WOOF ! As to the reason for more non-union work taking place, I would suggest that perhaps those of the V/O community take a close look inward for the solution to that one. What with AFTRA’s complacent attitude toward their members doing non-union work, and the advent of ISDN lines were members can do non-union voice work in the secrecy of their homes is it any wonder that non-union work has increased. Here is what AFTRA’s Hollywood President Ron Morgan stated about AFTRA members doing non-union work! “As you know the No Contract, No work’ rule at AFTRA is related to scripted entertainment!” Apparently, Mr. Morgan and many AFTRA members have a different membership card than the one issued to me. It reads: “Do not work for non-signatory producers.”

The advertising, broadcasting, motion picture, and retail industries are itching for us to strike again, allowing them another chance to destroy union commercial production once and for all.

WOOF ! The only itching going on here is from members that are willing accept any thing employers offer just as long as they can keep making their scratch! Does anyone seriously believe our employers are itching for a strike? Hey, if they really wanted to destroy our union all they have to do is stop hiring us–and get all that “easily found” non-union talent! *

Do not do what so many leaders do: surround yourself with the monotone of one opinion.

WOOF ! Oh, I get it, you mean like Melissa Gilbert and John Connolly.

Meet with us, the working members of this venerable union; ask our opinions; ask us what working SAG actors are saying today in casting offices and agents’ waiting rooms about this Board and our union. Sadly they are talking about going financial core and suing the Guild — actions that would be destructive to the trade union movement for performers.

WOOF ! Yes, Mr. President, by all means, meet with them, and ask them to justify some of their outrageous, unsubstantiated charges about the strike and those 5000 members rejecting SAG for their agents and all the rest. In fact, better yet, have an informational meeting and let them address their concerns to the membership and let us respond to their claim that we will desert our union for our agents. I got a feeling that you’d have TWENTY THREE NO-SHOWS. Let’s face it, if the true intention of this letter was a meeting with SAG’s New President all they would have had to do is send him a letter with nothing more than the above paragraph. I know individual members who have not found it necessary to flash their bankrolls, and they had personal meetings with Alan. He’s a good man. And a fair man! And very accesible. Of course this VO letter has very little to do with meeting him, but is rather a piece of propaganda used on websites, emails and the press to attack their political adversaries and new SAG Leaders. Yes, financial core is a problem that needs to be addressed, but it has nothing to do with SAG’s new leadership, and to infer differently is disingenuous! As to membership suing SAG that generally only happens when the leadership circumvents members rights-and is something that Alan Rosenberg and the new leadership will never do. Hopefully with the exodus of Restore Respect leadership, and barring their return, those days are over.

Alan, we ask you to act with temperance & caution and advise your Board majority to do the same. It would be a crippling embarrassment to this union and its leadership if the membership were to withhold its support of Board calls-to-action.

WOOF ! To be perfectly blunt, for the authors of this letter to publicly make such a suggestion is what’s embarrassing! Think about it, folks, before Melissa and her crowd came into power had you ever heard any SAG leaders, or members, suggest in the press that SAG members would desert their union for either their agents or employers. It’s the kind of crap that makes it even more difficult for the rest of us that are willing to stand up in solidarity to ensure our rights!

As is required by SAG policy upon request, we ask that you include this letter in the Board packets for the next Hollywood Board meeting, the next meeting of the N.E.C., and the next meeting of the National SAG Board.

WOOF ! This is a great idea, I think that their words should be part of the record! As a voice-over performer, I can only say that I am proud that my name is not among them.

Sincerely,Coalition of SAG Performers for a National Union

(Please see signature pages that follow.)

Don LaFontaine
Ashton Smith
Ben Patrick Johnson
Beau Weaver
Keri Tombazian
William Ratner
Rob Paulsen
Jim Cummings
Lori Tritel
Jason Richards
Melissa Disney
Randy Robert West
Thomas Kane
John Leader
Cedering Fox
Philip Tanzini
Scott Weil
Dave Fennoy
Peter McHugh
Chris Hatfield
Kay Bess
Scott Rummell
Townsend Coleman

Peter Frank
David White
Steven Jay Kaplan
Anne-Marie Johnson
Paul Christie
Steve Fried

*Formatting for this post is SW’s!




Tidbits From the Trades: Guilds Place Ad Demands! Writers give IRTS a dose of Reality! AOL: “You’ve got Reruns!”

April 19, 2005 (20:23) | 2005, SAG Politics | By: Arlin Miller

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November, 13.2005

Guilds place ad demands

By Gail Schiller
Hollywood Reporter

The WGA and SAG on Monday went public with their demands that networks and producers give writers and actors a creative say and financial compensation for writing brands into story lines or appearing with them onscreen.

At a news conference at the WGA West’s offices in Los Angeles, the guild issued a policy paper outlining its opposition to what it terms “stealth advertising” in film and television and detailing accounts of writers who claim they were forced to weave advertisers into story lines. The document also calls for an industry code of conduct governing product integration and warns that the WGA will file an official complaint with the FCC seeking tougher regulation of branded entertainment if networks and producers do not open negotiations with Hollywood unions on giving writers, actors and directors a role in the lucrative deals.

“For generations the FCC has had disclosure requirements for paid product endorsements,” WGAW president Patric Verrone said. “We believe these requirements need to be enforced and strengthened, and we intend to pursue those channels with the FCC if we must. We believe the public has a right to know when they’re being sold a bill of goods disguised as entertainment.

“In the white paper, we are asking to be in a dialogue with our employers on this subject to create a code of conduct, to disclose and limit the practice of product integration and to include writers, actors and directors in the decision-making process upfront,” he said.

All the major networks declined comment, but industry sources said most were unlikely to seriously entertain the WGA demands. Executives with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the negotiating body for the major studios, were unavailable for comment.

With its white paper describing reality TV as the most prominent platform for product integration, the WGA appears to be seeking leverage in its campaign to organize reality TV writers and story editors, most of whom work without guild coverage.

The white paper cites several examples of what it described as egregious integration, including the character played by Eva Longoria on ABC’s hit “Desperate Housewives” getting a job as a spokesmodel for the Buick LaCrosse, and story lines about Procter & Gamble’s Herbal Essences and Swiffer brands on WB Network’s “What I Like About You.” It quotes story producers on reality shows “American Dream Derby,” “Outback Jack” and “America’s Next Top Model” detailing situations in which they were pressured to integrate advertisers into their shows.

But industry sources said writers on “Housewives” actually were the ones to conceive the story line about Longoria’s character being hired as a car spokesmodel, which ABC followed up on by seeking an advertiser to fill the role in exchange for integration dollars.

Joe Davola, executive producer for “What I Like About You,” as well as WB shows “Smallville” and “One Tree Hill,” said he never forces his writers to do anything against their will and said they even accompany him to meetings with advertisers. He said all the integration revenue generated on his shows goes to production costs and marketing support to help promote the show.

Davola said that for “One Tree Hill,” he gave his writers a list of P&G brands they could integrate into scripts and they decided how to write them in.

“I have no problem with people getting compensated,” Davola said, noting that such a decision was up to the studio and that he didn’t make any money from the deals. “I have not forced one of my writers to put any of this stuff in the show. That’s not the relationship I have with the people I work with.”

Ben Silverman, one of the most prolific producers of reality shows with brand integration, called the WGA demands “ridiculous” and said the guilds needed to realize that advertisers are not putting additional money into integration deals but shifting money they used to spend on traditional 30-second spots.

“This is just how the shows are getting produced,” said Silverman, producer of such series as “The Biggest Loser,” “The Restaurant” and NBC’s scripted comedy “The Office.” Silverman said his reality series do not employ writers.

SAG reps said product integration was particularly significant for actors, who often have their own endorsement deals with advertisers and need to retain the right to refuse to participate in branded entertainment deals arranged by networks of producers.

“We have no hate for advertising, but we have to keep in mind that actors have to be compensated if we’re asked to pitch a product,” said Anne-Marie Johnson, SAG Hollywood division chair and first national vp.

Novemeber 16, 2005

Reality writers stage protest at IRTS panel!

By Paul J. Gough
Hollywood Reporter

NEW YORK — Reality writers looking for more compensation crashed a gathering of high-powered network TV executives Tuesday morning at a Manhattan hotel.

The writers are disturbed by their long hours without overtime, lack of Writers Guild benefits that are given to comedy and drama writers and no cut in residuals. They brought that message about 12 minutes into the IRTS’ annual “Breakfast With the Network Entertainment Chiefs” event at the Waldorf-Astoria ballroom, with several of the writers standing up from the audience and attracting attention.

One, Susan Baronoff, got up onstage and pleaded with the network execs and about 1,000 other media-industry bigwigs to exert pressure on their networks to resolve the issue. The writers said they are treated like “second-class citizens in the television industry.” It was at least the second demonstration held by the writers in recent months; a street-theater protest was held outside an Advertising Age event.

“I guess they didn’t want to hear our answer,” Fox Entertainment president Peter Liguori said as the writers somewhat noisily departed the Waldorf-Astoria’s ballroom.

Liguori and other network entertainment chiefs said afterward that they are interested in making sure there are fair labor practices at the networks.

“We will continue to engage them,” NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly said. “We’re not completely deaf to it.”

The confrontation was one of the few bits of drama in a mostly sedate annual discussion, without any of the controversy of previous years: no back and forth charges between Fox and other networks for allegedly stealing ideas and no network exec claiming that any of the shows “sucked.”

Vintage TV series wired for Web

WB to plug in TV outlet via AOL

Novemeber 13,2005

Variety Magazine

Net TV is finally here.
After years of talk and one-off efforts in the space, Warner Bros. and Time Warner sibling America Online have pacted to create the first-ever television outlet online.

Set to launch in January, In2TV will make up to 14,000 episodes from more than 300 WB TV series available on-demand for free with advertising.
WB series ranging from the 1970s-era “Chico and the Man” to recent skein “The Fugitive” will be available online with four new 15 second advertisements per half-hour inserted by AOL.
Netco is paying WB a license fee for the series and splitting ad revenue.

If it proves popular, In2TV promises to create a revenue stream for library titles that have largely exhausted their potential in syndication and on DVD.
“When it started 20 years ago, cable only aired ‘classics,’ but now you see original programming and high-profile repeats,” said Eric Frankel, prexy of Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution. “We hope this is the beginning of the same evolution in broadband.”

On the Net unlike on cable, an infinite number of shows can potentially be made available. Thus, even if they appeal to a small audience, skeins can live on, and earn money, forever online.
In2TV could also prove a major boost for AOL as it moves all of its content off a closed universe for subscribers and onto the open Web. Netco has largely staked that shift on its broadband video offerings, and with the launch of the service, AOL leaps ahead of its major competitor, Yahoo!, in offering exclusive video.

That could help it draw a bigger audience and more advertising revenue.

“We want to create a new broadband network for content looking for its next window of distribution,” explained Kevin Conroy, exec VP of AOL Media Networks. “This is an IP (Internet protocol) television service that is available whenever, wherever in the digital home.”

Though most users will likely watch In2TV on computers initially, growing adoption of devices that let consumers get Internet content on their TVs could make the service, and others like it, a fixture in the living room as well.
If other broadband TV deals follow, they could ultimately prove a challenge to cable repeats, particularly for nets that specialize in them like Nick at Nite.

Just last week, CBS and NBC Universal made deals with Comcast and DirecTV, respectively, for the first video-on-demand offerings of new broadcast shows. ABC also recently made recent episodes of “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives” available for download through Apple’s iTunes musicstore.

In2TV has significantly more content and, unlike those VOD deals, makes it available for free. However, AOL-WB venture’s shows are significantly older and likely to have a more limited appeal than new episodes of “Survivor” or “Law and Order: SVU.”
Other TV studios will be able to add their content to In2TV, though some may be wary of signing up for a distribution outlet partly owned by Warner Bros. Under the non-exclusive deal, AOL is also able to create separate broadband networks for other content providers and WB can offer its shows to other Netcos.

The two sister companies started talks last year, but it took them more than a year to create the service and for WB to clear all rights. Frankel said the main challenge was to ensure they could play all music in the shows for use on the Net.

Actors, writers and other talent will receive residuals just as they would for other late-run syndication of skeins.

While exact financial details of the license fee and revenue split weren’t available, execs admitted that the first deal is something of an experiment.
“On cable, we have enough experience to price any deal that comes along,” Frankel observed. “This is real time learning in the market, though we’re happy to do it.”

Series will cycle on and off of In2TV on a regular basis so only a small portion of the content is available at once. To prevent impacting sales of seasonlong DVDs, WB will offer only 10 episodes of any series at a time.

Shows will be offered as part of six “channels” — essentially categories to organize content — at launch, including comedy, sci-fi and cartoons. Two more are expected to follow next year.

In the first year, 4,800 episodes from more than 100 series will cycle through In2TV. But WB has already cleared 14,000 episodes from more than 300 shows to ultimately air.

Besides creating the first large-scale on-demand TV offering on the Net, In2TV will also launch with a broad array of interactive options. AOL is creating a variety of games and quizzes to go along with the shows — for instance, viewers can bet on who will win an episode of “People’s Court” and earn prizes from a sponsor.

In2TV will also create clip compilations from WB skeins. Examples include stars before they were famous and laugh-out-loud moments.
Series available in the first year of In2TV will include “Growing Pains,” “Pinky and the Brain,” “Lois and Clark,” “Falcon Crest” and “Babylon 5.”



SAG P&H trustee Claudette Sutherland badmouths background performers, and most of the rest of SAG’s members in her USAN tirade.

April 19, 2005 (20:23) | 2005, SAG Politics | By: Arlin Miller

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The following is a letter from a SAG member Claudette Sutherland, who has the honor of being a SAG P&H trustee, and is in a position of trust to serve our membership.

After reading her self-centered tirade, that appeared on a new SAG blog called Firebird, you decide if she deserves that position of trust, or even if she is a loyal SAG member.

SAG Firebird blog

Ladies and Gentlemen, the following is from the incomparable Claudette Sutherland. Incisive and very thought provoking…

There is hardly anything new under the hot Hollywood sun, except that the Hollywood-centric voice has claimed the day, something in the works for many years. How any of us could be surprised is surprising to me. You could take almost any of the postings from the past campaigns and simply change the names.

Which leads me to say, if you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you are getting.

We need new conversations. We need to stop re-treading the tires. There are reasons that Hollywood is different and will stay that way, not just because of how the work is, but more, how the voting membership is. Everything we are suffering right now, is a result of having taken over the extras jurisdiction. From that time forward, there was no turning back and that was even before the politics got dicey. But it was all waiting here like a land mine.

No matter the campaigning, the money spent, no matter the rights and wrongs it is only a small group of us who have the most at stake in our contracts. Actors like us. Working actors.

But in Hollywood we are truly only a handful. I believe that from the outside this gets overlooked and that’s a big mistake which can keep us spinning our wheels. Because the toxicity is lodged here, it is only natural to look right back here to solve it. It won’t get solved here.

Why can’t we engage the celebs? Because frankly, they have no need for the union. Oh sure, they may have fond memories of when they started out and the struggle to get where they are, but once there, they are busy. Not kidding, either. They are insulated by managers and agents and by their own important need for privacy. They are off the radar screen. Sure, often enough someone big comes along to do the right thing, but it seldom turns out to be more than a mercy f**k and they have to leave to do another big film in another country. So the stars have nothing at stake. Besides, there aren’t that many of them.

Then we have the legions of extras which make good eating for the wannabes, the ones who have seen better days, and, (my all time favorites) the fellows just behind me in age who think THEY should have gotten the same share of the golden years when money was real money. When advertisers poured it out of their budgets like confetti on parade day, when quotes were numbers that climbed upwards, when everything was shot in our backyard and you could walk to work. These boys love to whine. I’m glad I’m not their Mommy. These boys have little to lose because they never had much to begin. They look at those of us in my generation and easily hate what we had only because they don’t. I say, go be born in 1939 then. This group is the largest and has the most voting power.

They also have NOTHING TO LOSE so it doesn’t matter if they torch it all. (Besides it feels sooooo good. Almost like having a big old dramatic role where you get to emote and then people notice you…and so on, and so on.) Well, if they had half a brain and could think even as far as the new year, they would be able to figure out that their precious pension and health benefits are what will warm them in their old age and their illnesses, much more than a resume. And their precious pension and health benefits are what they are slowly but surely laying waste to. Nothing is carved in stone, even with the Federal Government insuring it.

So that leaves us. The working actors here in Hollywood whose numbers are miniscule, and the rest of the branches. That is the population that has the most to lose. The population that has ANYTHING to lose.

What am I after? Something I don’t even know how to begin thinking about. A new union? A fragmenting of our existing structure? A walk to AFTRA, (back to numbers because there aren’t that many cross-overs to begin with.) Financial core? What? But I would by far welcome this dialogue. I would like to sit down with somebody….anyone, and have a place to ask questions, to brainstorm.

We cannot, and I bet will not unify Hollywood. I am convinced it’s a hopeless endeavor. Costly beyond belief. It doesn’t work and we have given it a big shot. Doing the same things, the same things, the same things expecting different results. (sigh)

I realize this letter is without conclusion. If someone can show me the box, I would be happy to step outside it.

Thanks for the use of the hall.

Claudette Sutherland

posted by FireBird @ 8:54 PM 3 comments

Ms. Sutherland is of course entitled to her opinion and her message is “Oh so Clear!” On the other hand, do you trust her to ensure that our pension plan strives to serve ALL OUR MEMBERS. I know that I don’t!


A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief WOOF !

As to her statement that “stars” don’t need the rest of us. This is a bunch of USAN BS! Ask any star if they want to be supported by untrained, non-union actors. * This lady has lost her faith in this great guild, its traditions, responsibities to ALL its members, and what it means to be a member of THE SCREEN ACTORS GUILD! Should she decide to go Fi-Core would anyone be surprised. Or for that matter would anyone give a damn.



Watchdog Exclusive: Chief Counsel to the Labor Commissioner to Investigate ICM investment deal. If in violation Talent Agency Could lose license

April 19, 2005 (20:23) | 2005, SAG Politics | By: Arlin Miller

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The Ol’ Watchdog has learned that Chief Counsel to the Labor Commissioner Robert Jones is looking into the $ 100 Million Dollar investment in ICM by Connecticut financier Rizvi Traverse through his Management Company!

Although ICM’s Jeff Berg proclaims that he will remain in control of the 150-agent firm and chairman along with being its largest shareholder, according to the Wall Street Journal “Under terms of the deal, Mr. Rizvi’s private-equity group, Rizvi Traverse Management, will assume a controlling stake in ICM.”

What concerns many SAG and WGA members is that not only does Mr. Berg indicate that he intends to swallow up several smaller agencies but to “expand in non-traditional areas such as film financing and marketing.” Can you spell “Conflict Of Interest!”

On the other hand, what concerns The Labor Commissioner’s Chief Counsel Jones is that according to labor code, upon such an investment, the Talent Agency concerned has up to 10 days after the transaction to get the written consent of the labor commissionerand at this point the Labor Commissioner has received no such request from ICM.

In the Ol’ Dog’s telephone conversation with Mr. Jones, he was quick to point out that other than the news stories characterizing the ICM deal, at this point, he had no reason to believe that ICM had done anything wrong. However, as of this morning his department was looking into the matter.

He suggested that that although the deal was announced to the press, perhaps the final papers had not been signed, or that there was some other mitigating circumstances. But, lest anyone think failure to get consent, in a matter such as this, is not a serious offense, Mr. Jones also was quick to point out that if the transaction violated California Labor Code 1700.30–ICM by their failure to comply could


A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief WOOF !



Unnerved AMPTP/Producers Go Ape With Chest Pounding

April 19, 2005 (20:23) | 2005, SAG Politics | By: Arlin Miller

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This LA Times article says as much about SAG/WGA’s recently ousted leadership as it does
about their newly elected leadership!

Guilds’ Actions Foster Strike Plans at Studios

By Richard Verrier

Times Staff Writer

November 12, 2005

Unnerved by mounting anger within the unions representing actors and writers, Hollywood studios are already girding for potential strikes two years before the first contract even expires.

Relations have become so frayed in the last two months with the Screen Actors Guild and the Writers Guild of America, West, that studios recently began drafting strike contingency plans that could be finalized by early next year.

“There is growing concern over the strident positions enunciated by the present leadership of the two guilds,” said J. Nicholas Counter, who speaks for the major studios and is their chief negotiator. “The truth is we have no choice but to prepare for the worst possible scenario in the next round of bargaining.”

Studios usually keep a lid on such tough talk this far in advance for fear of fueling rancor and dissent. If they launch contingency plans at all accelerating production, stockpiling scripts and shooting films outside the U.S. they typically wait to within a year of the time contracts run out.

But developments in September and October changed that. Both guilds elected slates that vowed to take a more confrontational stance with studios in trying to get them to budge on such long-festering issues as sharing a bigger slice of their lucrative DVD business. Both unions then jarred Hollywood by abruptly firing their top negotiators, both of whom were criticized for being too accommodating.

Actor Alan Rosenberg, who represents 120,000 SAG members as their new president, dismisses strike talk as scare mongering but warned that the union wouldn’t be intimidated.

“We’re going to stand up for our members and get our fair share, something we haven’t done in a long time,” he said.

Patric M. Verrone, president of the Writers Guild, West, which represents 9,500 TV and film scribes, said that although writers don’t want a strike, the studios shouldn’t underestimate their resolve to apply pressure through a walkout or other means.

“If they are preparing for the worst, I’m not sure they know what the worst is,” he said.

The current studio deal with writers isn’t up until November 2007; the actors’ contract expires in June 2008.

Nonetheless, the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., a nonprofit group that tracks the local economy, is already taking the threat seriously. It is preparing a study that will heavily focus on the potential effect of any strike on the Southern California entertainment industry, which employs more than 250,000 people.

Hollywood labor leaders have been sharply divided in recent years on the effectiveness of strikes in an era when members are facing off against diversified media conglomerates such as Viacom Inc., Walt Disney Co., Time Warner Inc., General Electric Co.’s NBC Universal, News Corp. and Sony Corp.

Many of the industry’s unions prefer to negotiate new pacts well before old ones expire. The theory is that studios will pay a higher price to buy labor peace if it eliminates uncertainty. Because studios must set pictures into motion so far in advance and lock up stars and directors before their rivals do, they are loath to let labor contracts run down to the wire because pulling the plug on projects is so costly.

But critics of early negotiating say Hollywood’s unions have given away leverage by keeping a lid on the strike threat. The result, some experts believe, has been a simmering anger among the rank and file that is starting to boil over.

“The people at the studios can dismiss what’s happening as the rants of a crazy majority, but they would be missing the point,” said Brian Walton, a former Writers Guild executive director and SAG negotiator. “There are some basic inequities in the guild agreements that they should address.”

SAG last struck against studios in 1980, for three months, over pay television and videocassette residuals. In 2000, the union struck against advertisers for six months in a dispute over pay for actors in commercials. Writers last struck against studios in 1988, for 22 weeks.

Tensions jumped after Rosenberg’s coalition quickly fired Chief Executive Greg Hessinger, a moderate force inside of SAG who had been on the job just six months, shortly after taking over. That touched off an internal fight among members, with former “MASH” star Mike Farrell calling the decision a “suicidal” move by a group of “angry, small-minded people.”

But, Rosenberg said, “It became clear we needed someone who was 100% on board with what we are doing.”

Likewise, the Writers Guild, West, fired Executive Director John McLean, a former CBS executive who had negotiated the guild’s last two contracts. To increase its leverage during negotiations, the guild has since launched a major organizing drive of writers working in such areas as reality shows and cable programs.

Both firings sent a message that the guilds had grown impatient with their negotiators in making contract inroads, suggesting that bargaining could be much more contentious the next time around.

“It’s almost like rise of the hurricanes in southern Florida,” said labor attorney Ira Shepard, who represented advertisers when SAG struck in 2000 over its commercials contract.

The DVD issue will be a particularly difficult one to resolve. Unions have long complained that they have not received their fair share in what has become a lucrative business for studios. Studios contend that the film business is inherently risky, and that DVD revenue offsets their soaring production and marketing costs.

Still another burgeoning issue is compensation for work displayed on cellphones, the Internet and portable devices such as iPods.

Even if no walkout materializes, Hollywood still fears that the labor tensions will produce a de facto strike similar to one that hammered workers in 2001.

Worried that actors and writers might walk out that year, studios raised production to frenzied levels in the months leading up to the contract expiration date. After deals were reached that averted strikes, so many films were sitting on the shelf that producers turned the spigot off. That threw thousands of production employees out of work, some for nearly a year, before employment stabilized.

University of Texas professor David Prindle, who wrote a history of SAG, believes that the new stridency among actors and writers is partly reflective of broader unrest in the American labor movement, as was evidenced recently when several unions recently split from the AFL-CIO to step up organizing.

“It’s definitely a possibility that we’re heading into an era of management labor conflict within Hollywood,” Prindle said. “There’s a new tone, a tone of ‘We’re fed up and we’re not going to take it anymore.’ “

Hmmm, you think now that SAG’s EMBEDDED UNION BUSTERS have been neutralized, our employers are getting scared? This preemptive chest pounding by the AMPTP’s Nick Counter and the studios is little more than an effort to effect our next election.

If their “go-along-to-get-along” cream puffs can get back into power by using this strike rhetoric to spread fear among our membership, they will have accomplished their agenda.

Like I said, this proffered propaganda by Mr. Counter and the AMPTP tells us as much about Restore Respect/USAN and their crowd as it does about Membership First. It tells you that with the former crowd in power, they could be assured that the threat of strike would be taken off the table as a bargaining tool, on the other hand they are unnerved that it will not be taken off the table by the latter.

And of course when the threat of strike has been neutralized as it was by Melissa, Pisano, Hessinger, Farrell, Cromwell, Christie, and that crowd, SAG members and their ability to get a fair deal is neutralized.

A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief WOOF !

Studio Mogul Lew Wasserman “A compliant union is a good union”