After the Watchdog post concerning the credit scroll, (since described by Mr. Beil as a “thank you” list) on Hasbro’s DVD trivia game “Shout,” I got an email from Norman Beil, the games creator, informing the Ol’ Dog that “The facts are completely wrong.” Mr. Beil invited me to give him a call–and he would fill me on “the entire history” of the game.
This led to a very enlightening hour and forty minute conversation! During our little tte–tte, Mr. Beil was offered an opportunity to send an email with his side of the story– and it would be posted on the SAG Watchdog site, unedited–and sans any comments from moi accompanying the post. I did however inform Mr. Beil that I would respond to his email in a separate post.
His email was posted several days ago. The following comments are in response to that email and our aforementioned telephone conversation.
First off, I would like to thank Mr. Beil for being cooperative and cordial! And no, I don’t thank he is the bad guy in this little scenario! Hell, I wouldn’t even cast Hasbro as the villain. They are a giant corporation in the business to make money, and when they were offered this ‘deal’where, basically, the entire industry, except for the musicians, would waive their rights to these movie clips, you can’t blame them for snapping it up!
The culpability for this “waiver” belongs to those who “arranged it” without bothering to take it to the National Board for approval as dictated by SAG’s Constitution. And whoever signed off on Howell Begle’s misleading letter to those whose clips were to be used by Hasbro.
The waiver letter was crafted to appear to be just another charitable solicitation from the MPTF. It began:
“I am writing to request your support for a major fundraising initiative on behalf of the Motion Picture & Television Fund (MPTF)”
The solicitation contained no mention of Hasbro, nor any specifics detailing the potential value of the members donation. As I have stated previously, it was written in such a way, as to be set aside to be answered later– or simply tossed! And according to the information Mr. Beil gave me in our telephone conversation–that’s pretty much what happened!
For out of the EIGHT HUNDRED LETTERS sent —only TWO HUNDRED RESPONSES were received!
Yep, there are SIX HUNDRED of our members that may be in the game, and they don’t even know it.
Now in Mr. Beil’s post he claims that…
“Your article also contains some significant misstatements about the nature of the limited waiver. Here are the facts: Any actor who advised us that they did not want to be in the game will not be in the game. Any actor who failed to respond to our letters will receive their full share of the profit pool if they appear in the game (there is NO automatic donation to the MPTF).”
Well, they may be ENTITLED to receive their full share of the profit poolTHAT DON’T MEAN THEY’LL GET IT!
Here’s what the SAG Waiver says:
“If a performer comes forward after the fact, he or she will be entitled to a share of the 2% Royalty Pool. He or she will be offered the opportunity to contribute his or her share to the MPTF.”
Huh? How, can actors come forward if they don’t know they are in the game? Ah, in the mean time that loot will be in what is described as a “SAG administered revenue pool.” (An aside! In SAG’s administered Missing Residual Pool, there are 36,000 participants that still ain’t got their money!)
Just think SIX HUNDRED out of EIGHT HUNDRED didn’t reply to Mr. Begle’s solicitation! Now what if the solicitaion had began:
” Congratulations one of your movie clips has been chosen to be used in Hasbro’s new Trivia DVD Game “Shout!” –and you could make between $2,500 to $19,000 Dollars a year”
You think they might have gotten a better response? Or better yet, why didn’t they follow the procedure that will be used with the writers! They’ll get their revenue sharing checks, and will be given the opportunity to donate whatever portion of them they chose to the MPTF!
Okay, I would now like to address a few other comments made by Mr. Beil in his posted email.
Mr. Beil states:
“For Scene It, the bulk of the royalties are being paid to the studios. For Shout, the studios have contributed all clips gratis for the benefit of the MPTF!”
You’ll notice Mr. Beil says the studios have contributed all clips gratis for the benefit of the MPTF. Well, yes some have–but not ALL! This despite the fact that SAG told the 13 members who voted on the waiver that the waiver was contingent on ALL of the studios along with the WGA and DGA granting similar waivers!
This didn’t happen! The DGA did. But neither the writers nor ALL of the studios granted waivers! In fact, according to the Ol’ Dogs sources many of the studios are NOW approaching Hasbro to cut their own deals. This was confirmed by Mr. Beil.
Mr. Beil went on to say
“What I find objectionable about your article is the notion that Hasbro exploited the MPTF to clear clips they could not otherwise clear. I can assure you this is not the case. Hasbro never approached us; we approached them!”
I will accept Mr. Beil’s version on this! However, it is true, that as I stated, Hasbro had tried a more traditional source to get clearances for an earlier DVD trivia game. Clearances, that turned out to be too time consuming and expensive. They ended up doing it on the cheap with clips in the public domain, foreign commercials, etc…!
Whether, Hasbro, Mr. Beil or the MPTF approached the studios and guilds with the waiver idea, the fact is Hasbro entered into the deal only after getting a promise of a waiver!
Mr. Beil, himself says,
” For Scene It, the lawyers and paralegals that cleared the clips were paid hundreds of thousand of dollars and a royalty. By negotiating this deal with SAG instead of individual agents, actors got a good deal, kept the right to opt out, and the savings in legal fees was passed along to the MPTF as part of their million-dollar guarantee.”
Which was my point exactly! Once Hasbro had a way of avoiding paying hundreds of thousands of dollars or MORE to all those pesky, lawyers, paralegals, clearance companies, studios, agents and actors, they came aboard! Now, I’m not a bookkeeper but I suggest that perhaps Hasbro got the best of the deal! They had a set price at the outset! This apparently appealed to them more than going through traditional channels. As to actors getting a good deal! I would suggest that perhaps those SIX HUNDERED ACTORS mentioned above might disagree! Ah, that is, if they ever FIND OUT!
Oh, another point according to Mr. Beil,
“Only the MPTF benefits from the generosity of the studios, guilds and the cooperation of talent. I personally made sure of that.”
Once again not exactly the full story! In our conversation I asked Mr. Beil if it was true that he was getting THREE PERCENT of the profits? He confirmed that YES he was getting a percentage of the profits–but that the exact amount was CONFIDENTAL!
He went on to explain that his sharing in profits was Hasbro’s idea–not his! And that perhaps, he might donate them to the MPTF! Hey, if he created the game, I have no problem with him sharing in the profits, but,ah, please let’s be up front about everything here. If indeed he is getting 3 percent that’s his business —but it don’t coincide with his statement that ONLY the MPTF benefits from the deal!
Heck, Mr. Beil’s THREE PERCENT is more than the TWO PERCENT allotted to all EIGHT HUNDRED actors asked to participate! Money that THEY are being encouraged to contribute to the MPTP! And if he decides to contribute his share to the MPTF, at least he’ll know THAT he is contributing–and HOW MUCH he is contributing!
What I “find objectionable” about Mr. Beil’s email is his mischaracterization of legitimate objections to this Hasbro Waiver as
“the “big lie” that’s been spread by those who wish to undermine this project for their own selfish interests.”
Selfish Interest? What Selfish interest? Trying to assure that our members are not deceivedand that their rights are protected?
This unfortunate, unsubstantiated statement by Mr. Beil is indicative of the type of political rhetoric that CEO Pisano and the Restore Respect gang spews toward those who oppose them–and their agendas! You’ve heard before from Mike Farrell. Those that disagree with him are selfish, craven, misanthropes that “put politics over the welfare of the members” Or CEO Pisano who classifies those who oppose him as “arrogant, belligerent” obstructionists. And to President Gilbert–opponents are “Union Busters!”
So, there! You’ve heard from Mr. Beil and my response! You decide who has their facts straight! And who may have selfish interest in regards to this waiver! To me, the more important issue here is that members rights and INCOMES are protected, and that they are given all the facts before being asked to contribute to any charity! Mr. Beil indicated that he might help make that happen. Now that would truly be something to SHOUT ABOUT!!
In the meantime, another offer to Mr. Beil: If he’d care to elucidate and expand on his “selfish interest” comment, the Ol’ Watchdog will be more than glad to post it on this website!
A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief
PS, if you’d like to read more on this subject, including the Shout “thank you” list, Mr. Beil’s email, an original photocopy of Begle’s “fundraising” letter–and morejust go up and CLICK Search, thenCLICK on posted between 22, Aug. 2003 and 13 Dec. 2004. Next, CLICK on Articles containing any of the following keywords and in that box type in the word Shout! And finally CLICK on Search Articles.