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SAG-AFTRA Members Poised to Ratify New Video Game Contract

October 25, 2017 (22:26) | 2016 | By: Arlin Miller

The tentative agreement that ended SAG-AFTRA’s 340-day strike against the video game industry appears headed towards easy ratification. Members meeting tonight in Los Angeles and New York to discuss the deal appear satisfied with its terms. Several members leaving the LA meeting told Deadline that they expect the deal to be ratified.

“It seems like they’re going to ratify it,” said a member leaving the meeting, where the Dodger game was playing on a big screen. “It’s a pretty good deal.”

“Everyone seemed pretty cool,” said Chris Jai Alex, who works as a stuntman and voice artist under the pact. ‘They had a pretty good turnout, even with the Dodgers on.”

“Everybody was positive,” said another member, who said that the new deal “appears to have a lot of benefits.”

Ballots will be counted Nov. 7, and as one actor noted, “Member-involvement will determine if it passes or not.”

The strike was launched October 21, 2016 – one year ago tomorrow – against 11 major companies including Electronic Arts, WB Games, and Activision. The strike, which was suspended on Sept. 25 when the union reached a deal with the companies, was unanimously approved by the guild’s board of directors earlier this month and must now be ratified by members who had earnings under the union’s interactive media agreement after Jan. 1, 2008.

The new deal calls for “bonus pay” based on the number of sessions a performer works on each game, beginning with a $75 payment on the first session and capping out at $2,100 after 10 sessions worked.
It’s not quite the type of residuals system the union stuck for, but performers appear to think it’s close enough. SAG-AFTRA had been seeking a back-end payments schedule that would have given performers a full day’s pay for every 500,000 units sold, up to four secondary payments if the game sells 2 million units.

SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris has called the deal “an important advance in this critical industry space. We secured a number of gains including for the first time, a secondary payment structure which was one of the members’ key concerns.”

The deal also contains an employer commitment to continue working with SAG-AFTRA on the issue of vocal stress during the term of the agreement.

And according to the union, the agreement doesn’t include several proposals sought by management, including a provision that would have fined performers for being late or distracted at session; another that would have required agents to submit performers for low-paying “atmospheric voice” sessions or face fines and a possible revocation of their union franchise, and another that would have allowed employers to use their permanent staff to do covered work outside of the collective bargaining agreement.

The deal also includes improvements in the area of “transparency,” which Ray Rodriguez, the union’s chief contracts officer, has said “will enhance the bargaining power of our members’ representatives by requiring the companies to disclose the code name of project, its genre, whether the game is based on previously published intellectual property and whether the performer is reprising a prior role. Members are also protected by the disclosure of whether they will be required to use unusual terminology, profanity or racial slurs, whether there will be content of a sexual or violent nature and whether stunts will be required.”

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The Ol’ SAG Watchdog

*Headline photo selected by Watchdog



SAG-AFTRA Settles Unfair Labor Practice Charges Against Telemundo Over Telenovela Actors

October 23, 2017 (23:04) | 2016 | By: Arlin Miller

October 23, 2017 4:22pm

SAG-AFTRA has settled three unfair labor practice charges with Telemundo filed on behalf of the Spanish-language network’s telenovela performers. The settlement, which corrects the misclassification of Telemundo performers as independent contractors and reclassifies them as employees, was reached after a year of litigation and days before a trial at the National Labor Relations Board.

“This is a major victory for Spanish-language performers,” SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris said. “This is an important step towards ending the unfairness that separates Telemundo performers from their English-language counterparts in the television industry. We will not rest until the Telemundo performers work under terms that are fair and just.”

“We’re getting closer to achieving our goal of establishing equity for Spanish-language performers and this outcome is a step in the right direction,” SAG-AFTRA national executive director David White said.

As part of the settlement, Telemundo also agreed to end its practice of preventing performers from talking about their wages and working conditions and prohibiting them from speaking negatively about Telemundo. It also agreed to end all unlawful performer contract provisions and policies that prevented performers from filing charges with the NLRB and required performers to indemnify Telemundo if it was found to have violated any law.

In March, Telemundo performers voted overwhelmingly to join SAG-AFTRA, marking the first time in more than 55 years that a group of actors at a major television network sought a unionization election. SAG-AFTRA and the network are still negotiating for a contract covering Spanish-language television talent.

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El SAG Watchdog

*Headline photo selecte by the Watchdog



SAG-AFTRA Supports ‘Unencumbered Press’ After Trump’s License Revocation Threat

October 20, 2017 (18:20) | 2016 | By: Arlin Miller


SAG-AFTRA has issued a strong statement in support of a “free and unencumbered press” nine days after President Donald Trump threatened to strip networks of their broadcast licenses.“As a union whose membership includes broadcast and online journalists, SAG-AFTRA champions the rights of a free press, whose primary role is to provide citizens with the information they need to effectively govern a democracy,” the union said.“These rights are guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which establishes that the press shall be free from government interference in the dissemination of information, ideas and opinions. SAG-AFTRA, journalists and non-journalists alike, supports a free and unencumbered press and stands with any journalist who might find his or her ability to report on our government challenged or compromised.”SAG-AFTRA did not mention Trump by name. He threatened on Oct. 11 to challenge the broadcast licenses of “NBC and the Networks” after NBC reported that Trump asked about a tenfold increase in U.S. nuclear arsenal. Trump called the report “pure fiction, made up to demean” and added, “NBC = CNN.”

He also tweeted that day, “With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!”

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said on Oct. 17 that the agency lacked authority to revoke the license of a broadcast station based on the content of a newscast, in his first comments on the topic since President Donald Trump’s tweets.

SAG-AFTRA said Friday that it was “re-emphasizing” its Feb. 20 statement about the free press “in light of recent threats to ‘challenge’ the licenses of broadcast news outlets.”

The union, which has 160,000 members, also elaborated in its statement on the role of the press.

“SAG-AFTRA believes first and foremost that citizens in a democracy need the truth. Furthermore, SAG-AFTRA believes that journalists have an obligation to monitor and question those in power, pointing out wrongdoing when they find it, noting when facts asserted are not supported by evidence, and reporting inconsistencies in the positions of public figures.

“As working professionals, members of the news media have an obligation to verify the accuracy of what they report, with loyalty only to their readers, listeners and viewers and not to any political party, affiliation, or ideology. As a proud labor union representing more than 160,000 broadcasters, actors and entertainers SAG-AFTRA stands with all of its members in ensuring that the basic rights of a free and independent press continue to be upheld.”

To me what’s scarier than Fake news is a Flake President…especially one with his finger on the nuclear weapon button!


The Ol’ SAG Watchdog

*Headline Photo selected by Watchdog



DGA Board Meeting Will Address “Very Serious Issue” Of Sexual Harassment

October 19, 2017 (10:52) | 2016 | By: Arlin Miller

The DGA said today that it will address “the very serious issue of sexual harassment in the industry” at its national board meeting Saturday in New York. The announcement by a guild spokesman comes in the wake of the avalanche of accusations against Harvey Weinstein, who has been kicked out of the Film Academy and is being expelled from the Producers Guild. He’s still a member of the Directors Guild, however.

Weinstein, who has more than 300 producing credits but only two directing credits, both from the 1980s, has kept up his DGA membership all these years but now could be facing expulsion. The DGA has a codified set of rules for the expulsion of members which would have to be strictly followed if he is to be expelled.

Bill Cosby, who’s facing criminal charges that he drugged and raped numerous women, is still a DGA member, and so is Victor Salva, who in 1998 was convicted of oral copulation with the 12-year-old star of Clownhouse, his first feature film, and he served 19 months of a three-year sentence. He also pleaded guilty to lewd and lascivious conduct and of procuring a child for pornography. After his release from prison, he went on to direct such films as PowderJeepers Creepers and Jeepers Creepers II.

And Jace Alexander, formerly a DGA vice president, is still a member even though he’s currently serving 10 years’ probation for possession of child pornography. Roman Polanski, who drugged and raped an underage girl, is no longer a member though it’s unclear if he was expelled or quit.

Jamaa Fanaka was the last known member to have been kicked out of the DGA for reasons other than non-payment of dues. That was in 1998 for “conduct unbecoming a member” after a trial board found that he’d threatened Paris Barclay – who would later become DGA president – and for disrupting DGA meetings with “belligerent outbursts.”

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The Ol’ SAG Watchdog

*Headline photo credited to Rex/Shutterstock



Los Angeles On-Location Filming Falls For Third Quarter In A Row

October 18, 2017 (15:34) | 2016 | By: Arlin Miller


by David Robb
October 18, 2017 12:05pm

Despite the state’s annual $330 million tax incentives program, on-location filming in greater Los Angeles fell for a third consecutive quarter, dipping 3.5% to 9,455 shoot days in the third quarter of 2017 compared with the same period last year. On-location filming fell 4.7% in the second quarter and a whopping 36.3% in the first quarter

On-location production of feature films, commercials, and TV dramas were the quarter’s few bright spots. Everything else was down. Film production was up 7.6%, TV dramas were up 4.1%, and commercial production rose 7.2% despite the fact that they’re not eligible for state tax incentives.

Overall, on-location television production fell 9.1%, yielding 4,021 shooting days in the city and county. TV pilots plunged 60.3%; TV comedies fell 17.3%; Web-based TV was down 14.3%, and reality TV fell 20.4%. FilmLA said that reality TV production, which is not eligible for tax incentives, “continues to be crowded out by a shift to scripted content.”

Tax credit-eligible feature films contributed only 133 on-location shooting days in the third quarter, or 11.3% of all features shot here on location. Incentivized features that filmed here in the third quarter were Ad Astra, Backseat, Book Club and Bright.

Incentivized TV drama projects contributed 436 on-location shooting days, or 35.4% of all on-location TV drama shoot days. Those filming here in the third quarter were Code Black, American Horror Story: Cult, Heathers, Law & Order True Crime, Lucifer and The Orville.

Olive Forever, the only incentivized TV pilot that shot here in the third quarter, contributed just 10 shoot days, or 16.6% of all the pilots shot here on location.

FilmLA said the nose dive in TV pilot pilots in the third quarter was due to declining activity that began last year and “the record number of shows that are already in production or airing.”

“It is important to note that despite a year-over-year decline in numbers for the third quarter, on-location production counts are over 10% higher than five years ago,” said FilmLA president Paul Audley. “That brings a steadier employment picture for area cast and crew, and relief to local small business owners happy to see filming come back.”

A “shoot day” is defined as “one crew’s permission to film at one or more defined locations during all or part of any given 24- hour period.” FilmLA’s data does not include production that occurs on certified sound stages or in areas outside its jurisdiction.

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The Ol’ SAG Watchdog

*Headline photo slipped in by the Watchdog