It has been over a year and a half since the ATA/NATR referendum, that CEO Bob Pisano and Melissa Gilbert tried to push onto the membership, was resoundingly defeated.
At that time, rather than enforce SAG’s Codified Agency regulations, Mr. Pisano convinced the SAG Board to “temporarily” suspend enforcement of Article 16 (a) of the 63 year old franchise agreement!
Article 16(a) which insures our regulation of agents dictates that SAG members can only be represented by agencies that are franchised! CEO Pisano’s argument for suspension was that SAG needed time to “educate” the membership on the importance of having such an agreement.
In the meantime, SAG issued a good faith memorandum to ATA/NATR agents which stated that PROVIDED they didn’t violate the Basic Agreement both sides would continue with the status quo. (*memorandum below.) In other words: Abide by our rules or you will lose the right to represent our members!
Of course it wasn’t long before word started to leak out that certain ATA/NATR agents were indeed violating SAG Regulations by proffering their clients what SAG described as “onerous” General Service Agreements. Apparently, they weren’t “onerous” enough for the Leadership to take action against these offending agencies by enforcing 16 (a.) Instead, in a Demonstration of Temerity, they choose to back down from the dictates of their own memorandum.
In fact, not only did the leadership take no action against these agencies– but they refused to identify these agents so that members would not be whipsawed by them. Instead under Melissa Gilbert’s leadership– members were left on their own to perform this “onerous” task!
In a November 21, 2002 Variety Article titled “SAG Mum On Agents” it was revealed that , in an effort to avoid CONFRONTATION WITH HOLLYWOOD AGENTS , the guild’s National Director of Agency Relations, Zino Macaluso, stated in a letter “Members should ask their agents point blank what their position isare they abiding by the rules or not?”
According to the article, Macaluso’s reason for SAG shirking its duty to members was that “SAG can only generally warn members about the repercussion of signing a GSAit’s NOT POSSIBLE FOR THE GUILD TO RELEASE AN ACCURATE LIST OF AGENTS OFFERING GSA’s“
Okay, as we’ve pointed out in earlier SAG Watchdog articles, you were lied to about Qualified voting, SAG’s autonomy, Pension and Health, AFTRA’s Continued Open Door Policy under Consolidation—and various other topics. But this one is a Real Whopper!
Now assuming CEO Pisano and his highly paid staff of lawyers are not complete incompetents, there is a whole lot of BS going on here. Soooo it’s NOT possible to release an accurate list of agents offering GSA’s? Let’s check the FACTS! Something this administration avoids like Vampires avoid sunlight!
Case in point: (1700.23.) of the California Labor Code states that ” Every talent agency shall submit to the Labor Commissioner a form or forms of contract to be utilized by such talent agency in entering into written contracts with artists for the employment of the services of such talent agency by such artists, and secure the approval of the Labor Commissioner thereof.
Now, if your humble SW Editor & Chief could write to the Labor Commission’s Legal Section and request these contracts pursuit to the Public Records act, one would think that Mr. Pisano and his staff could have done the same thing. And it wouldn’t have cost that much! Hey they could have knocked off a couple of hundred bucks from the millions they spent on Consolidation— and could have gotten info on every agency offering “onerous” GSA’s!
With a simple request to the Labor Commissioner, they could have obtained a schedule of fees from ICM, CED, Kazarian, Spencer & Assoc,. Inc.– and our illustrious President’s own agency, WMA, revealing that they reach a maximum rate of TWENTY PERCENT!
Oh, by the way WMA GSA’s allow them to tie up a client for SEVEN YEARS! Hmmm, I wonder if Melissa had to sign one of those? Nope, she could probably afford to follow SAG’s advice— and get a lawyer.
Well, so much for the BIG LIE— that it’s NOT possible to release an accurate list of agents offering GSA’s!
And so much for Mr. Pisano’s educational proposal! It’s been over a year & a half and the only education we’ve received from CEO Bob included such pearls of wisdom as “Less Dues, More Muscle!”
Hey at the very least Melissa and friends could have sent out a postcard informing all SAG members that “Every talent agency shall file with the Labor Commissioner a schedule of fees to be charged and collected in the conduct of that occupation, and shall also keep a copy of the schedule posted in a conspicuous place in the office of the talent agency.” (1700.24. Of the Labor Code)
Or how about this. Instead of confronting your agent and possibly jeopardizing your relationship with said agent, perhaps Mr. Macaluso should have suggested that you take an indiscreet peek at said agents wall.
Isn’t it ironic that our elected board of directors make decision’s under the Cloak of Confidentiality, supposedly, to protect them from industry reprisals! This while regular Ol’ members are expected to CONFRONT THEIR AGENTS with point blank demands.
The disingenuousness of those SAG leaders currently calling the shots reminds one of that Old Joke “How can you tell if they’re lying?” THEIR LIPS ARE MOVING!”
A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief
*The Memorandum to Agents states “With respect to ATA/NATR agents, SAG, for the time being, shall maintain the status quo that has been in effect since January 20, 2002, provided that these agents continue to comply with all the requirements of Rule 16(g), as it now exists or may in the future be amended.
As always, SAG values its association with agents. SAG will take any action necessary and proper to advance the welfare and interests of its members in their relationships with their agents”
Hmmm, little did we know that “necessary action” would be limited to telling those members being proffered “onerous” GSA’s— TO GET A LAWYER!
Now, I don’t know about you but it seems to be the Best way to Bust a Union is to imbue it with innuendo, half-truths and bald faced lies in order to accomplish a specific agenda!