This little tale of media manipulation involves a hard working SAG Board member, actress Susan Savage, and a high priced PR firm, 42 West, two of their high priced clients, Tom Hanks and George Clooney, and an anonymously run website which the Ol’ Dog has dubbed “SAG Watch On The Rhine,” since it is covertly routed through Germany to cover the tracks of whoever is behind it.
Our story begins with Ms. Savage sending out the following email.
We’re doing all we can to stop AFTRA from ratifying a bad deal that will affect ALL of us. The time is now! YOU must get involved if you want to stop this. The AFTRA board is meeting this weekend to decide whether or not to send out a referendum to AFTRA members to vote on.
IF THE AFTRA BOARD DOES VOTE TO SEND THIS TO ITS MEMBERS, YOU MUST VOTE DOWN THIS HORRIBLE DEAL!
It does not protect your image (the clips of your TV work); no protection from product integration, NO increase on DVD’s, a little over $25 for 6 months of air time on New Media.that’s right, your TV show that ‘moves over’ to New Media could potentially net you a whopping $25 for six months of play, and trust me, lots more to make you just go ballistic.
If you don’t want to ever make a living as an actor, by all means, feel free to vote this up. But if you are as angry as I am that an organization like AFTRA (masquerading as a Union) makes a deal with the AMPTP thirty days BEFORE the Television/Theatrical contract expires (which hurts all of us!) then I suggest you stand up and be counted and stop this.
I’m forwarding you an email below from a fellow SAG Board member with more details. If AFTRA decides to go forward with this bad contract, then we will rally this MONDAY @ SAG! Please, stand up and be counted.
And fyi, to those of you who’ve expressed concern about some of our high profile members not getting it, happy to say, George Clooney and Tom Hanks called Alan Rosenberg directly to offer their total support!
In Solidarity and hope,
Now, not long after the email went out from Ms. Savage, the Bag Head Bloggers who run “SAG Watch On The Rhine” made the following post mischaracterizing Ms. Savage’s comment about Clooney and Hands.
June 5, 2008 – CLOONEY AND HANKS DENY MEMBERSHIP FIRST CLAIM!!!! – Updated
hould we say “TOLDJA?”
Both George Clooney and Tom Hanks have repudiated the Membership First claim that the two A-Listers are opposing the AFTRA Exhibit A contract! As we reported below, in an e-mail sent today, the Hollywood-based faction falsely said that Clooney and Hanks had endorsed the activities of the Allens, whose faction is trying to whip up some opposition to the AFTRA deal, which achieved bargaining goals on which SAG had failed in its first round of talks with the AMPTP.
Hmmmlet’s look at that quote again, ” And fyi, to those of you who’ve expressed concern about some of our high profile members not getting it, happy to say, George Clooney and Tom Hanks called Alan Rosenberg directly to offer their total support!”
Obviously, this was not part of the bulk of the message, but an added word of encouragement to those, who had expressed concern about the likes of Hank’s and Clooney, and that they were finally getting it and offering their support to SAG.
Ms. Savage makes no claim that the two hi-profilers endorsed opposition to the AFTRA Deal, but rather that they called SAG’s leader to offer their support. By the way, in all of the cleverly worded responses to Ms. Savage’s email has anyone denied that the phone calls offering support took place?
Okay, now back to our tawdry little “Tempest in a Teapot” tale of duplicity.
Well, surprise, surprise, it wasn’t long after this article appeared on this obscure website that Mr. Hanks and Mr. Clooney’s, “Cracker Jack” high priced PR firm, 42 West, which constantly searches the internet for any mention of their clients, was on this, like a fly on a hot, ah, tortillaand it wasn’t long afterward that the following statements were released to the press.
This statement is from George Clooney
“I have had no conversations with SAG concerning that issue. Any reporting to the contrary is false.”
Okay, fair enough. But then, again, no one had said that he had any conversations on that issue!
The response where 42 West really serves ALL of their clients is the one they issued on both Mr. Hank’s and Mr. Clooney’s behalf:
“Further to the false report spread by SAG that Tom Hanks and George Clooney personally called Alan Rosenberg to offer their support, here is a statement from Tom Hanks: “Someone name(d) Susan Savage has used my name in a letter, suggesting I have taken the position of not ratifying the new AFTRA agreement. This is a hoax, not true, a complete fabrication.”
(Press Release posted on Deadline Hollywood)
The statement issued by our high priced PR firm begins with a falsehood stating that the report came from SAG, it hadn’t, it had come from a SAG member. By stating that the report had come from SAG, 42 West, put SAG in a bad light: Bad for SAG, but good for another one of their clients yet to be mentioned in our little tale. (More on that in just a tad.)
So, anyway, here is, apparently, Mr. Hanks characterizing the letter as, not only a hoax but a complete fabrication. Hmmmcould it be that Mr. Hank’s never actually saw the letter, ah, which was actually an email, but only heard his PR firm’s characterization of it.
But you may ask, how would falsehoods on PR firm 42 West’s part and orchestrating a “Tempest in A Teapot” making SAG look bad help their clients.
Oh that other client of 42 West’s that hasn’t been mentioned yet in our tawdry little tale of duplicity is none other thanta da!
Sharp, huh? This whole thing orchestrated out of a comment that under most circumstances would have been no big deal. But there are big bucks at stake here, baby. And anyone, who can be used, will be used. Most of us involved in SAG politics are amateurs, and when we go up against pros, we are going to lose.
Let’s face it most of these cats don’t care who they hurt or what they have to do TO WIN.
In the Ol’ Dogs opinion, a firm that Hanks and Clooney hired to service them, did, indeed, service them, but in another sense of the word; They were used by 42 West in a little scheme to put SAG in a bad light. But, but, but.how would that help AFTRA?
But look is anyone surprised by this? I mean considering two of the participants in this little tale? (And I ain’t talking about Hanks or Clooney.)
First off, The “Two Allen’s” website. Who would take seriously a website that, after all this time, still doesn’t even know how to spell “Alan?”
And secondly who can trust a PR Firm called 42 West, whose headquarters are in New York City.*
A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief
See ya, at the big SAG Solidarity Rally tomorrow between 10 A.M and Noon (6/9/08) at SAG Headquarters, 5757 Wilshire Blvd.
Oh, by the way, if you are wondering why AFTRA hired 42 West read the following.
Rehabilitating AFTRA’s public profile?
Man have they ever got their work cut out for them.
I was asked to forward this email, which pretty well sums up the situation that actors now find themselves in.
URGENT: VOTE DOWN THE AFTRA CONTRACT
Send AFTRA back to the table to get a contract that can sustain working actors in their ability to make a living wage. AFTRA’s strategy of going it alone so that they can put out a cheaper contract effectively makes them the “company union.” They want to sell all actors on the cheap to the studios so that they can increase their jurisdiction. AFTRA is sick, financially and morally and actors are the ones who are footing the bill for their addict grab for power.
YOU HAVE THE POWER TO STOP AFTRA!!!
Join the Screen Actors Guild and bring every one of your actor friends to the Screen Actors Guild Headquarters at 5757 Wilshire Blvd. for a rally on Monday morning (time TBA in following email), June 9 to let the world know that AFTRA’s contract is NO GOOD for actors and that that contract MUST be voted down by any actor who is a joint card holder in order to allow the Screen Actors Guild to negotiate a better contract. By sending this sub-standard contract out for ratification while S.A.G. is negotiating is detrimental to S.A.G.’s ability to negotiate the best possible deal and to any actor that ever aspires to work under our contracts and earn a decent wage.
The main issues are:
Product Integration: Anyone who does or ever wants to do a commercial could find themselves working on an AFTRA show, forced to do a product endorsement within that show and effectively cutting themselves out of any future commercial for any competing product. (They make you hold a Budweiser and say “The King of Beers goes down smooth.” Don’t ever expect to do another commercial for any competing beer maker.)
Clips: Do you have the clout to say no to management’s demand that you sign away your right to clips when you’re negotiating for your contract to work on a new series? What about as a co-star or guest-star? Under AFTRA’s deal you could be taken out of the running for a job unless you sign away consent to the studios to take clips of your performances and turn them over to sweaty little kids in their basements who want to take that footage and turn it into a new short where you kill babies or mate with farm animals or whatever else they can dream up.
DVD: S.A.G. wants the employers to pay your Pension & Health contributions on top of your residual, instead of taking it out of your share of DVD revenues. The entire eligible cast shares only 1% of that revenue. You shouldn’t have to pay your own P& H contributions out of that percentage. AFTRA got ZILCH.
FORCE MAJEURS: S.A.G. contract has longstanding provisions for down periods when a project goes out of production because of an Act of God or strike by another union. We have said no to management’s proposal to wipe away pending claims and to force you to negotiate these rights by yourself. AFTRA negotiated nothing they want to piggy back on whatever S.A.G. is able to negotiate.
NEW MEDIA JURISDICTION: S.A.G. wants to cover ALL new media projects, no matter how low the budget. We should not allow major studios and networks to produce non-union new media projects without SAG actors because they have low budgets. AFTRA’s contract effectively creates a workplace where the studios will be able to employ union actors right next to non-union actors.
IT’S HERE. IT’S NOW. THIS ISN’T A TEST. THIS IS WHAT IT IS TO HAVE THE RIGHT TO VOTE. GET OFF YOUR ASS, PEOPLE. IT’S TIME TO STAND UP AND BE COUNTED!
Please forward this information about Monday’s rally to your acting networks ASAP!
Oh, by the way, not only was I denied a look at the final vote in the Network Code Referendum, but, get this, they won’t even let their board members see the number of votes.
Wise up, actors, unless you say enough, this is what you have to look forward to; a union controlled by a couple of AFTRA Big Wigs, (Only three people have seen the vote, unbelievable)and a union where, not only can members not see the contracts they work under, but hell, they won’t even let members see the complete election returns!
This message just in from SAG President Alan Rosenberg:
June 8, 2008
Screen Actors Guild’s negotiating committee continued its bargaining with the AMPTP this past week. We continue to negotiate for a new contract that will be fair for actors and we are not done yet as there are still a number of significant outstanding issues including:
* More than cost-of-living improvements for working actor compensation, with real improvements in money breaks and schedule breaks and a significant increase in the major role minimum.
* Make real improvements in background coverage and compensation.
* Guild coverage and residuals for all original new media programs. Our employers should not have the right to produce non-union new media programming under our contract. We continue to fight hard to preserve residuals for actors now and in the future.
* Product integration you should have the right of consent and to be compensated for scripted in-program product integrations in which an actor extols the virtues of a product or service.
* Improving DVD Residuals we are holding on our proposal that management pay P&H contributions on top of the residuals instead of deducting it from your residuals payment. This would mean a 15% increase in DVD residual payments.
* An increase in mileage for the ﬁrst time in 30 years. A gallon of gas cost about 63 cents in 1978. It’s almost $5 per gallon now a cost jump of around 700%. I think we can all agree that it’s time for an increase in mileage.
These are examples of priorities for actors that were not achieved in the AFTRA deal.
I also want to bring you up to date on other recent actions. As you may know, your negotiating committee unanimously voted to ask AFTRA to delay the ratification of their tentative deal in order to allow Screen Actors Guild to successfully conclude its negotiations with the AMPTP. We believe that the tentative AFTRA deal and its pending ratification coming as it does within several days of SAG’s June 30 contract deadline is a distraction that the employers are using to delay significant progress in our negotiations.
Delaying ratification of the AFTRA contract could benefit all actors. AFTRA members too would benefit by increased leverage in our negotiations and through any favored nations clauses SAG might be able to achieve that would provide improvements in the AFTRA deal.
Regrettably, AFTRA President Roberta Reardon and Executive director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth informed us by letter that AFTRA will not agree to a delay in their ratification schedule. I assure you, this is NOT about union politics. It is about using our combined leverage to achieve the best terms possible for actors–in both unions.
We appreciate the attendance of observers from other unions who attended our negotiations throughout the week, as they have in the past.
Please watch your email and the SAG website at www.sag.org for further updates. Feel free to contact the committee at Contract2008@sag.org with your ideas, observations and comments.
And, if you are in the Los Angeles area, please come to our Solidarity Rally tomorrow, Monday, June 9, from 10 am until noon at SAG National Headquarters, 5757 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA. Your presence at the rally will mean a lot to your fellow actors on the negotiating committee as we resume negotiations on Monday afternoon.
*Yeah, I know what street 42 West is located on in Manhattan, but, but, it still struck me as funny. But, but, then it is getting late.
In fact it’s Post Time!