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Studios and Networks Rebuff DGA Diversity Push For “Rooney Rule”

February 13, 2017 (23:22) | 2016 | By: Arlin Miller

While signatory film and TV companies talk a good game about increasing the opportunities for minorities and women, they have “categorically rejected” continuing proposals by the DGA to embrace a program similar to one adopted by the National Football League that’s meant to encourage teams to consider candidates of color more seriously in the coaching ranks

Implemented in 2003, the NFL’s so-called “Rooney Rule” requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coach and other senior jobs. Named after Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and chairman of the NFL’s diversity committee, it’s an affirmative action policy that’s been tried out at several other businesses as well, including Facebook and Pinterest.

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DGA

The DGA quietly has been prodding the film and TV industry to adopt a version of the Rooney Rule to expand opportunities for female and minority directors. This push — which would have required producers to interview women and minority candidates as part of the hiring process for directing jobs — began during the guild’s 2013 negotiations for a new film and TV contract, but a knowledgeable source said that the companies “categorically rejected” the idea.

Undeterred, Jay Roth, the DGA’s national executive director, kept at it in the year leading up to the guild’s most recent contract talks. A knowledgeable industry source said the companies “were much more interested this time” but that when the guild sat down with management’s AMPTP in December to hammer out a new three-year contract, “The companies declined to discuss it for legal reasons.”

The federal government’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has been investigating Hollywood’s alleged discriminatory hiring practices since October 2015. The DGA declined comment and a spokesman for the AMPTP could not be reached for comment.

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Hey come on!  The studios have long had their Rooney Rule!  Once they figure you might come up short on making money for them you’re no where–you might as well take a Mickey!

Arl

Thee Ol’ SAG Watchdog

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Writers Guild of America to Seek Streaming Compensation Hikes in Studio Contract Talks!

February 10, 2017 (12:20) | 2016 | By: Arlin Miller

February 9, 2017 | 03:02PM PT

Leaders of the Writers Guild of America are placing a premium on increasing coverage and compensation for writers in the digital arena, according to the union’s latest message to its 12,000 members.

The WGA has started asking members to approve its “pattern of demands” letter for its upcoming negotiations with the major studios — a constitutionally required step that the guild must take before launching bargaining on a successor deal to its master contract. The current minimum basic agreement expires May 1. No date has been set yet for the start of negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

In a letter sent to members this week, the negotiating committee said, “The $49 billion annual operating profit accumulated by the six major media companies with whom we will be negotiating is double what their profit numbers were only a decade ago.

“Contrast that with the economic picture facing the members of our Guilds, whose average incomes in both features and series TV have actually decreased over that same decade. You’ve told Guild leadership in meetings and surveys that new models of development, production, and distribution – while making the companies richer—have not worked to your individual or collective advantage.”

The letter also said that members should contrast the companies’ prosperity with the state of guild’s Health Plan,  which, due to rapid inflation in health care costs nationwide, has run deficits for all but one of the past four years, forcing a dip into long-untouched reserves. ”

Getting our fair share will require resolve and solidarity and the willingness to fight if necessary,” the committee said. “But in a time of unprecedented profits for our industry, we believe it is our due.”

A decade ago, the WGA initiated a 100-day strike that had ripple effects across the industry but also gave the creative guilds important gains in residuals, royalties and jurisdiction for what was then the first flowering of made-for-digital entertainment. Subsequent negotiations in 2011 and 2014 were less acrimonious with the guild placing a premium on improvements in cable TV compensation.

This time around, as the volume of original series on Netflix, Amazon and Hulu and the popularity of streaming of TV content has expanded to eye-popping levels, there are rumblings in some writers rooms that it’s time for the guild to push for significant gains on the digital front. It remains to be seen, however, if significant numbers of scribes are prepared to back the guild if strike talk becomes a reality, especially at a time when work in TV and digital is so abundant.

The Directors Guild of America achieved gains in streaming residuals in the new contract that the helmers reached in December, which signals that the AMPTP is ready to give something on the digital front, because the DGA typically sets the basic template that the AMPTP offers to the WGA and SAG-AFTRA. The DGA’s three-year deal was ratified by its members two weeks ago and takes effect July 1.

The WGA’s pattern of demands include increased minimum compensation in all areas and an increase residuals for “under-compensated reuse markets,” likely a reference to SVOD and ad-supported VOD platforms.

Other items on the guild’s agenda:

  • expanding the types of made for new media programs subject to MBA minimums
  • increased contributions to the Pension Plan and Health Fund
  • strengthening economic and workplace protections for TV strengthen regulation of options and exclusivity provisions in television
  • address inequities in compensation for writing teams, a longtime complaint of writers for the practice of having to split a single salary among two or more writers in a team
  • provide paid family leave for writers employed under overall deals
  • amend a definition of a professional writer to include writing for new media
  • increase funding for the WGA’s showrunner training program and Tri-Guild audit
  • modify and expand all arbitrator panels

SAG-AFTRA has yet to locked in a start date for negotiations for its successor deal to its master contract covering features and primetime TV. The SAG-AFTRA deal runs out June 30. The national board of the performers union approved its proposal package on Jan. 22.

The WGA West announced last May that it planned to seek a bigger cut of the $49 billion in 2015 profits from the top six media conglomerates. The guild announced on Dec. 1 that it had selected Billy Ray, Chip Johannessen, and Chris Keyser to head its negotiating committee. It’s the second consecutive time that Ray (“Captain Phillips,” “The Hunger Games”) and Johannessen (“Homeland”) have been co-chairs of the negotiating committee.

Keyser served two two-year terms as WGA West president before being termed out in 2015. Ray was also co-chair for the 2010-11 negotiations. The committee includes Patric Verrone, who served as president during the strike, “House of Cards” showrunner Beau Willimon, “Timeless” showrunner Shawn Ryan, “Straight Outta Compton” co-writer Andrea Berloff and “Erin Brockovich” screenwriter Susannah Grant.

The WGA’s two branches, based in Los Angeles and New York, negotiate jointly on the deal.

Here’s the letter to WGA members:

Dear Fellow Writers,

On May 1st the current Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) covering most WGA writing expires. The Negotiating Committee has set goals for our upcoming bargaining sessions with the AMPTP. Now we need to make sure the membership understands and agrees with our agenda and approach.

Let’s lay out the context. The 49 billion dollar annual operating profit accumulated by the six major media companies with whom we will be negotiating is double what their profit numbers were only a decade ago.

Contrast that with the economic picture facing the members of our Guilds, whose average incomes in both features and series TV have actually decreased over that same decade. You’ve told Guild leadership in meetings and surveys that new models of development, production, and distribution – while making the companies richer—have not worked to your individual or collective advantage.

And contrast the companies’ prosperity with the state of our Health Plan which, due to rapid inflation in health care costs nationwide, has run deficits for all but one of the past four years, forcing a dip into long-untouched reserves. Getting our fair share will require resolve and solidarity and the willingness to fight if necessary. But in a time of unprecedented profits for our industry, we believe it is our due.

Now we need to know where you stand.

You will soon receive an invitation to participate in one of a series of outreach meetings the WGAW and WGAE will convene over the next six weeks. These are critical meetings as we prepare to negotiate with the companies.We thank you for your support, and look forward to hearing from you over the coming weeks.

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That’s the great thing about a union.  When employees ask for a  hike , employers can’ t just tell them to take one!
Arl
The Ol’ SAG Watchdog
*Photo selected by Watchdog 

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L.A. City Attorney Busts Five Casting Workshops For Charging For Auditions!

February 9, 2017 (12:55) | 2016 | By: Arlin Miller

The Los Angeles City Attorney’s office has filed criminal misdemeanor charges against the operators of five casting workshops for allegedly charging actors for auditions in violation of the state’s Talent Scam Prevention Act of 2009. If convicted, each of the 28 defendants – including 18 local casting directors – could face up to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine. Arraignment is scheduled for mid to late March.

“As the entertainment capital of the world, Los Angeles continues to attract thousands of aspiring performers from across the world,” City Attorney Mike Feuer said during a press conference today. “Unfortunately, pay-to-play casting schemes often exploit their dreams, purely for profit. My office will continue to crack down on those who would take advantage of performers desperate for work.”

The charges come after a year-long undercover investigation in which a professional actor working as an undercover informant under the direction of the City Attorney’s office attended 13 casting workshops conducted by five separate businesses. According to the City Attorney’s office, “The alleged activities at each of the individual workshops attended by the undercover informant were later verified by an independent expert witness as auditions or employment opportunities in direct violation of the Talent Scam Prevention Act.”

Proving that in court will be the key to winning convictions.

The five casting workshops named in the criminal prosecutions include:

— The Actors Link, where co-owners Scott David and Bret Weinstock were each charged with three counts of charging for auditions and one count of failing to use contracts conforming to the law. Three other associates – Michele Seamon, Alexa Pereira and Rebeca Silverman – were each charged with charging for auditions.

— The Actor’s Key, where operating members Kristin Elizabeth Caldwell, Katherine Elizabeth Shaw and Jessica Helen Gardner were each charged with three counts of charging for auditions. Casting directors Ricki Maslar and Nancy Foy, and casting associate Rachel Bacharach were each charged with one count of charging for auditions.

— Actors Alley, where owner Bradley Derrick Sachs was charged with two counts of charging for auditions and one count of failing to use contracts, and casting directors Ty Harman and Lindsay Chag were each charged with one count of charging for auditions.

— Casting Network, where its operator Gillian Brashear was charged with three counts of charging for auditions and one count of failing to use a contract, and casting assistant Chandra Reid and casting associates Eddie Jaszek and Miriam Hoffman were each charged with one count of charging for auditions.

— Studio Productions, where its operator Garret Camilleri was charged with two counts of charging for auditions and one count of failing to use a contract, and casting director Peter Pappas, casting assistant Stephanie Weatherbee and casting associates Darya Balyura, Amy Cohen, Kimberly Ehrlich, and Rachel Rose Oginsky were each charged with one count of charging for auditions.

SAG-AFTRA said it supports the prosecutions and will continue to work with the city. “Preying on the hopes and dreams of artists is one of the oldest scams in Hollywood,” said Duncan Crabtree Ireland, the union’s chief operating officer and general counsel. “We thank City Attorney Mike Feuer for enforcing the law and taking action to hold people accountable when they violate the law and take advantage of vulnerable people’s dreams. We will continue to work with the City Attorney’s Office to help protect our members and future members.”

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Way to go for sending the message to those who Scam,  Scram!

Arl

The Ol’ SAG Watching

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SAG-AFTRA to Offer Residuals Payments via Direct Deposit for the First Time!

February 8, 2017 (11:42) | 2016 | By: Arlin Miller

... offices bursar s office refunds direct deposit direct deposit

The union reached an agreement with software company Exactuals to deliver the new service via City National Bank starting this year.

SAG-AFTRA announced Wednesday that it has struck a multiyear agreement with Los Angeles-based payments software company Exactuals to deliver residuals payments to its members through direct deposit.

Currently, the union processes about 4 million paper checks each year amounting to $1 billion in payments. Under the new agreement, the first of its kind in the entertainment industry, Exactuals will serve as a third-party broker to facilitate paperless transmission of data and funds between the studios and payroll houses to SAG-AFTRA and its members. Processing of funds will be handled by Exactuals through City National, which will electronically transfer funds to member accounts in any checking account at a domestic bank.

The service to members will be free of charge and will roll out over the course of 2017, according to a union spokesperson, on an optional, opt-in basis.

The deployment is expected to start in earnest after June 1, because SAG-AFTRA will likely be beginning contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers in March ahead of contract expiration May 31. In addition, the union’s fiscal year ends April 30.

“Our members asked for the direct deposit of residuals and we have heard them loud and clear,” SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said in announcing the system. “We have long been in discussions with employers to make this happen and are delighted to announce this partnership.” Carteris’ term ends with elections this summer, and the new system is likely to be a feature of her anticipated re-election campaign.

SAG-AFTRA national executive director David White added, “Our team has worked with Exactuals and other institutional partners on this initiative for years and I am thrilled now to roll this out to our membership and the industry. This represents a tremendous innovation for our industry and I want to thank and congratulate our partners for their foresight, investment and collaboration on this project. I also salute our terrific staff who have worked so hard on behalf of our membership to make this ambitious goal a reality.”

Valery Kotik, national director of residuals processing at SAG-AFTRA, said, “This long-overdue electronic delivery system will improve the efficiency of residuals processing and deliver payments to members quicker and more conveniently.”

“We are thrilled to join with the industry’s largest union in SAG-AFTRA and one of the most trusted financial institutions in City National to bring secure direct deposit to the residuals space,” said Mike Hurst, Exactuals CEO and co-founder. The company recently raised $10 million in Series A financing, in a round co-led by entertainment lender City National and including about a dozen other funds and angel investors.

Said Martha Henderson, head of that bank’s entertainment division, “City National is very pleased to work with SAG-AFTRA and Exactuals in this new landmark process that will make lives easier for many in the entertainment industry.”

The deal covers entertainment residuals from any source, but excludes commercials residuals, as those checks are not processed through the union. The new arrangement is a continuation of SAG-AFTRA’s automation work, which included the installation three years ago of equipment that slashed the processing time for paper checks. Residuals make up on average about 40 percent of a SAG-AFTRA member’s earnings.

I guess we’ll find out how it works out Directly!

Arl

The Ol’ SAG Watchdog

*Photo selected by Watchdog

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DGA Names Russ Hollander To Succeed Jay Roth As New Chief Executive!

February 6, 2017 (00:57) | 2016 | By: Arlin Miller

EXCLUSIVE: Russ Hollander will be the DGA’s next chief executive succeeding Jay Roth, who is retiring in May after leading the guild for more than two decades. The appointment was made Sunday at a meeting of the guild’s national board of directors.

A Harvard Law grad, Hollander has been a member of the guild’s executive hierarchy for more than 15 years. He joined the DGA staff in 2001 as assistant eastern executive director, and the next year was promoted to eastern executive director, serving as the chief of staff of the DGA’s New York office until January 2016, when he moved to Los Angeles after being named one of the guild’s three associate national executive directors.

“It is a tremendous honor to be selected by the national board to serve in this role, and a privilege to have learned so much from Jay whose guidance for directors and their teams has elevated the DGA to an industry leading position,” Hollander said in a statement. “The strength of our guild is derived from the unique collaborative structure they have crafted together, and we are well prepared to continue our trajectory of success.”

As the guild’s next national executive director, Hollander will serve as chief negotiator for the guild’s film and TV contracts. He’s taken part in those talks for the last 10 years, playing a key role in the negotiation of provisions relating to new media. The guild’s latest film and TV pact, which featured a tripling of residuals for members working on top-tier subscription video-on-demand shows, was ratified by the DGA’s members just last month.

“Russ has the experience and ability to carry forward our guild’s enduring mission while navigating the uncharted waters of tomorrow’s world,” said Roth, who will remain with the guild as a senior advisor after his retirement. “In the decade and a half since he joined our senior executive team from a top labor law firm, he has expanded our guild’s footprint, organizing and tirelessly working with leadership to build a thriving work environment for our members on the East Coast, laying important groundwork with employers, government and industry leaders. Nationally, he has led complex negotiations on behalf of our members in news, sports and commercials, and guided our expanded jurisdiction in non-dramatic, and new media.”

“In this appointment, we ensure the continued strength and stability of our guild,” said DGA president Paris Barclay. “Long committed to advancing the creative and economic rights of our members, Russ is a respected and accomplished leader with a strong track record of success on behalf of our membership and the industry. Together with his deep roots in our guild, Russ brings the necessary combination of strategic thinking, negotiating prowess, labor law expertise, and appreciation of our craft to build upon the DGA’s strong foundation under Jay, well into the future.”

With his new title will come a sizable pay raise, but it will have to be a big one if he’s to match the salary of Roth, who’s the highest paid union official in the entertainment industry. According to financial reports filed with the U.S. Deptartmen of Labor, Roth earned $800,422 in 2015 – the last year for which information is publicly available. That year, Hollander earned $347,976 – just slightly less than the guild’s other two associate national executive directors, David Korduner and Bryan Unger.

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Well one thing for sure the new directors chief won’t  be getting  a salary  Cut!

Arl

The Ol’ SAG Watchdog

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