The Trade Papers take on the Hollywood Board’s resolution demanding the resignation of CEO Pisano. Read, compare, and you decide who best covered the story.
Posted: Wed., Jun. 16, 2004, 10:27pm PT
SAG takes swing at Pisano
Board votes for CEO to resign
By CLAUDE BRODESSER
The gloves are clearly off at SAG, but it’s unclear whether the opposition has enough reach to connect on the punches it’s been throwing at union CEO Bob Pisano.
On Monday, the Hollywood boardwhich reps a majority of all Screen Actors Guild members and two-thirds of the monies earned by the unionvoted to demand not just that Pisano step down as chief negotiator of the union’s upcoming contract but also resign as the guild’s CEO.
Led by opposition group Membership First, the Hollywood board majority cited what it deemed “the lowest gains in history” in the union’s commercials contract and three failed (and Pisano-spearheaded) referenda: to make peace with talent agents over a long-expired master franchise agreement, merge with AFTRA and raise dues.
As usual, the opposition also took Pisano to task for his role as a board member of Netflix, the DVD rental company that has yielded him millions in stock, despite two external reviews by SAG’s outside legal counsel stating his directorship was not a conflict.
Gretchen Koerner, a Hollywood board member who voted for the “no confidence” measure, conceded that while Membership First doesn’t have the number of votes necessary to win approval from the national board, she also cautioned, “I would never assume how the New York and branch members might vote.”
Koerner said that while Pisano’s timetable for negotiations with producers called for talks to resume in the fall, the Hollywood board majority would instead prefer to form a search committee to spend the summer and fall looking for a new CEO and chief negotiator.
Amy Aquino, a Hollywood board member who voted against the resolution, decried the no confidence vote as “a publicity stunt,” adding that “It’s hard to imagine that how someone could care so much about politcs and so little about people making a living that they would undermine a contract negotiation. These people are our employers’ best friends.”
A SAG spokesman declined to comment on Monday’s nonbinding vote, which was made in executive committee and therefore without the presence of SAG staff.
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East June 16, 2004
SAG Board Battles
Pisano’s L.A. Foes Call for His Resignation
By Roger Armbrust
The Membership First factionwhich represents a majority of the 55-member Hollywood board of the Screen Actors Guildhas spearheaded a “no confidence” resolution demanding the resignation of Robert Pisano, the guild’s national executive director-chief executive officer.
The faction also wants Pisano not to be involved in this fall’s negotiations on a new feature-film and television contract.
Apparently following a walkout by Pisano supporters at a Hollywood board meeting Monday night, the faction approved the resolution by a vote of 24-1-1, with one vote against and the other abstaining.
The faction, according to Membership First board member Anne-Marie Johnson, holds 33 seats of the 55 in L.A. Seven of the 33 members were not present, with some of those out of town, she said. However, the 26 remaining members made up a quorum, allowing the vote to occur.
In a press release issued late Tuesday, Membership First said that its resolution would now go before the entire SAG board of directors at its plenary in July. However, whether that will actually happen wasn’t clear at press time, because the board’s plenary agenda has yet to be set. That will be up to Melissa Gilbert, SAG’s national president. She is a strong supporter of Pisano, and has equally strong support herself through her Restore Respect slate, which includes most of the national board representatives from SAG/New York and the branches.
A call to Gilbert Tuesday evening wasn’t returned by press time.
Seth Oster, SAG’s deputy national executive director for communications, said Tuesday evening that he understood the vote had been taken, but he wasn’t present at the meeting, which was an executive session.
Johnson told Back Stage at press time that the L.A. board’s Restore Respect members left the meeting en masse Monday night before the vote on the resolution occurred.
The Membership First statement cited three proposals supported by Pisano that were the catalyst for the group’s opposition to him: “the agency agreement proposal which would have allowed agents to partner with companies that employ actors, the consolidation proposal with AFTRA which would have dissolved the Screen Actors Guild’s autonomy, and [the failure] to address the Pension and Health ramification and, most recently, the proposal for a dues increase.”
The “agency agreement” refers to the talent-agency franchise agreement that SAG members voted down last year. The “consolidation proposal with AFTRA” would have formed a new union, the Alliance of International Media Artists; SAG fell 2% short of the 60% supermajority needed to approve the merger. The dues-increase proposal, which members voted down earlier this month, would have raised base dues 30%.
Johnson also complained about Pisano’s handling of SAG’s contract talks: “The commercials contract, which offered the lowest gains in memory, and the one-year extension of the TV/theatrical contract, which failed to get even one additional dollar of DVD money, and consequently cost SAG members tens of millions of dollars over the next year, indicate that Mr. Pisano has no business being in the negotiation room,” Johnson said in the press release.
SAG members overwhelmingly approved a new commercials contract last fall. They also recently approved a one-year extension of the feature-film and TV pact, with eyes on bargaining a complete contract this fall. Pisano and Gilbert have both said they will negotiate DVD residuals at that time.
However, Pisano has been under fire from Membership First for his connection with Netflix, an online DVD rental firm. His relationship with Netflix “appears to be a conflict of interest due to his simultaneous role as SAG CEO and as board member of the DVD rental company Netflix, and this fact is cited as another reason for Pisano to step down before negotiations begin on the 2005-2008 TV/theatrical contract,” Membership First’s release stated.
Pisano had received stock options from Netflix for his service as a director. Earlier this year, he netted $2.4 million in a sale of Netflix stock for his living-trust fund.
Frances Fisher, an outspoken leader of Membership First and an L.A. board member, provided the press release to Back Stage Tuesday evening. Gretchen Koerner, an alternate national board member, was listed as the contact on the release.
June 16, 2004
The Hollywood Reporter
SAG board casts anti-Pisano vote
Members of SAG’s Hollywood board who are politically opposed to the union’s current leadership have issued a no-confidence vote for SAG chief executive and national executive director Bob Pisano and asked for his immediate resignation. The vote, taken late Monday at a meeting of the Hollywood board, is nonbonding but will be raised as a potential topic of discussion at the summer plenary meeting of SAG’s national board next month. While critics fault Pisano for the terms of the contracts he has negotiated and initiatives like consolidation with AFTRA, supporters say he has taken great strides to shore up the guild’s finances and that the last two contracts were overwhelmingly approved by members.
Oh, by the way the Reporter blurb appeared on the next to the last page. Hmmm, I get the feeling that if they had micro printing capability they would’ve printed it on the outside edge of the page.
A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief