I had willed myself to not only go to the Hollywood Membership Meeting but to get there early because, well, as Watchdog Editor & Chief, I have a certain responsibility to our readers. Then of course, I wanted to ask our President a couple of questions, and as usual I was “curious” as to what she might be wearing.
As I pulled to a stop in the Writers Guild parking structure entrance, I asked the attendant if they validated for SAG members. He waved me on without a ticket and told me to park anywhere. Hmmm, curious. The Writer’s Guild didn’t want it in writing!
The small lobby was not only hot, it was packed! After a few “howdies,” I perused the room for some Crystal Geyser. I was thirsty! No bottled water, no water fountain and nary a coke machine. In desperation, I peered into the auditorium and noticed several bottles of water on the dais. Maybe, aaaahhh, I could just slip by the security guybut, No Dice THAT water was for Mike Farrell, James Cromwell and other SAG Leaders!
Stumbling outside grasping my parched, throbbing throat, I had a sudden realization that Two-Tiered membership must have already kicked in.
Outside, among the pamphleteers, I noticed a guy wearing an AMPTP button sipping a bottle of Avian, and carrying a sign that said “Pisano Rocks!” Having learned from the Restore Respect Slate that producers where a generous group, I looked at him with pleading eyes and cried out “Water!” He smiled and pointed toward the curb. I rushed over and yanked up a little Ol’ Lady by the back of the neck, and took her place at the pool of water in the gutter! Seeing no carcasses nearby–I dipped in!
Once, refreshed, I noticed Melissa walking toward the entrance! She was wearing the most delightful little red checkered dress. Gosh, she looked cute, and her shoulders didn’t look broad or anything. She saw me in the gutter and smiled—and for the first time I felt that she really meant it.
The eager crowd was seated, and the meeting began with Mike Farrell chairing it!
Photo by Papa Razzi I found out later that Melissa made a token appearance then blew the joint! Oh, well, we’d always have the Credit Union. Mike began by saying he didn’t have much to say! Hey, I don’t blame him, it’s not all that healthy to call people Misanthropes and Craven to their faces!
Anyway, starting things off was SAG’s Deputy National Executive Director for Planning and External Affairs, Pamm Fair. She gave a fairly brief report concerning planning and external affairs. She did a good job, but lets face it, the main reason members go to these meetings is because it’s the one time of the year they can get together and let their voices be heard. Unfortunately, at this meeting that would take a while!
In the meantime we got to hear from, Deputy National Executive Director for Contracts, Sallie Weaver who gave us a Power Point Presentation on the benefits of the new TV/Theatrical Contract Extension! The only point that she lingered on was the ‘slide’ extolling all the wage increases—ah, the only thing she failed to mention was that all those mythical increases would NOT affect even ONE show now on television. Ah, I ain’t sure, but I gotta think that if she had mentioned that little tidbit, the applause she received would have been somewhat diminished!
Then, it was time for the speaker we had all been waiting for! The guy who was there to give us a lecture on “Identity Theft.” Huh? Well, he started, and he went on, and on, and onfinally, I had had enough, and as I made my way out of the auditorium, I came to the sudden realization (I do that a lot) that the only thing that was being stolen from the members was their annual time at the mike!
Apparently, I wasn’t the ONLY one who’d had enough, as the lobby was quickly filling up and was soon at capacity! The general consensus was that although “Identity Theft” was indeed an interesting subject, it had NO place at our membership meeting. The fact of the matter was…that several people had already seen it at a seminar at SAG.
FORTY-FIVE MINUTES LATER, once the Identity Theft man had finished, members began to file back into the auditorium! I heard one member sigh with relief, thank God the Juice Man couldn’t make it. As I said, members were filing back into the theater, but apparently NOT fast enough for Chairman Mike Farrell who exclaimed, something along the lines of, if they couldn’t get seated “They could leave at anytime!”
Finally, after everyone was seated in what now was a half-full theater, “Key Staff Guy” Gavin Troster gave a humorous and informative report directed to our background and stunt folks. This was followed by a couple of more reports— and then THE BIG MOMENT. It was time for statements and questions from the members.
There was still a little more than an hour left before the writers would ask us to leaveah, and after the way we had treated them on this extension thing, I was sure they wouldn’t be all that lenient on the “time” thing. Which is probably why the theater was picked in the first place.
For the most part, the statements and questions were all first rate. The first person at the mike got a positive response, from what was left of the audience, when he suggested that guest speakers (i.e. the Identity theft Guy) should be limited to the same two minutes that members at the mike were limited too. Another member advocated more diversity in films. One member had a beef about the change from Time & Salary to the 3-2-1 residual policy. Then the current leadership was admonished by a member for their lack of support for FTAC!
The highlight for moi was when the indefatigable Peaches Johnson took on Mike Farrell for his unwarranted usage of OUR SAG ACTORS MAGAZINE to attack members that he disagrees with.When Peaches admonished Farrell “You continue to criticize members you don’t agree with,” Mike Farrell’s response was so, well, so Mike Farrell. Rather than apologize to members for usage of their magazine to attack them, he went into a litany of self absorbed rationalization.
Farrell: That statement was in regard to the contract extension. I said, as I see it, there were a couple of reasons to oppose it. And those who opposed the contract extension for political reasons, I thought were being CRAVEN. And people can only judge that for themselves.
One of the great things about democracy is that everybody has a right to make a decision for themselves and the issues that come-up are debated and discussed not only in publications, meetings, in the streets, e-mails and in things that are handed out. Some are done clearly for political reasons.
Peaches:(Adamant) But NOT in our magazine!
Farrell: I was speaking of people who were voting for something not because it was wrong, but I believe for political reasons.
Peaches: I’d like for you to think about us before you write these letters.
Farrell; (Smirking) Oh, I do!
Like I said, it’s so Mike Farrell. He rambles on and on to justify his unethical political attacks in the membership’s magazine, but then when the opportunity arises to get in another wise ass remark , he just can’t help himself– even though that remark completely refutes what he’s just said.
Of course, in Peaches heartfelt, guileless statement she is reaching out to him to think of her and others before making hurtful remarks— with his smirking “Oh, I do!” he unwittingly reveals his true nature and the true intentions of his remarks.
Check us again for part two of our report on the Sunday Membership Meeting and find out the response from the dais when questioned about Melissa’s infamous “Union Buster” remark. Poor Melissa wasn’t there to respond, and those on the dais left her to hang out and dry, Baby! Oh, and find out about the wavering waiver on non-union foreign commercials! And, yikes, Mike Farrell takes offense at your humble reporters “political” statement.
A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief..
* Thanks to SW’s Staff stenographer, Shorty Hahn for his notes on Farrell’s remarks, and Staff photographer, the lovable, Papa Razzi for his candid photo of the elusive Peaches Johnson.
** the crowd photo was not of the actual audience but of a group of paid “union” look-a-likes.