The following must read from the latest SAG’s Hollywood Callsheet.
In My Opinion
1st National Vice President
Dear Hollywood Division Members:
I wish I had positive and encouraging news to share with Hollywood SAG members, but I don’t. Seventy-nine pilots. Seventy-nine scripted dramatic programming pilots.
Seventy-nine work opportunities for which our members
could possibly work, earning pension credits and qualifying for the ever elusive health coverage.
Unfortunately Screen Actors Guild has missed out on
all of those opportunities. Take a look at Variety’s article of February 9, “AFTRA the Deal of Choice,” written by Dave McNary. (Article posted below.)
: “Deal” being the operative word. Although according to our SAG jurisdiction mandated by our 4A’s charter and confirmed by the NLRB ruling, SAG has jurisdiction over ALL SHOWS except those “DONE IN THE MANNER OF A LIVE BROADCAST!” Despite this irrefutable fact, AFTRA with the help of the big agents (who bought them off with a HALF-A-MILLION DOLLARS)to let them sell out actors–and, then give these big agencies a deal. It’s a deal that let’s a select few super power agents, not only represent actors, but act as their employers.) It’s the kind of subservient leadership that encourages producers to unlawfully take their shows to AFTRA in an effort to weaken, if not destroy, he once great Screen Actors Guild.
Very sobering. And to add more insult to the injury, filming permits in L.A. have declined, significantly, once again. Work is everywhere but HERE. Productions are quickly gravitating to states that offer producer-friendly
discounts, with a growing and experienced work force. And more importantly, these productions are gravitating away from SAG coverage. Some consider these huge discounts/incentives a race to the bottom. Some also opine that the shift in union coverage could be the end of SAG in the area of primetime television. Whatever your opinion regarding the whys or the what fors, television work is leaving SAG at a dizzying pace.
And will continue to do so, unless actors wake up, and demand that their SAG leadership enforces our jurisdiction instead of idly standing by as our union is destroyed.
My hope is that we, as a collective, find our way back on course, and fast. If this trend continues, thousands of SAG members will no longer earn enough for SAG health coverage or pension credit points, which will trickle down, negatively impacting our Pension and Health Plans. And as far as California’s tax incentives go, it’s a beginning (albeitlate to the party), but they don’t go far enough. Why weren’t commercial productions included?
Look, this is more than a trend. It is a scheme hatched between AFTRA and agents during the union/agents hassle to weaken the Screen Actor’s guild. And it was done in order to empower top agencies to control actors and the industry. And in the process, they allowed AFTRA, the broadcaster based union,and their staff leadership, to survive and take over shows that should be under SAG’s jurisdiction. This excerpt from a January 26 Message from then President John Connolly:
It’s an acknowledgement of AFTRA’s readiness and resolve to organize the digital markets of the 21st century proof positive that AFTRA is the future in media.
I can’t express strongly enough how dire this is. And Iknow I’m not talking in a vacuum. Not a day goes by that Idon’t have these conversations with fellow actors at auditions, on sets, on the streets and in the board room. Those who I’ve spoken to believe SAG needs to do more
to offer all of its Hollywood members a forum to hold a healthy dialogue regarding these key career/union issues. I agree. And as your 1st vice president, I’ll do my best to make that happen.
Our great Screen Actors Guild is going down the tube, and thousands of our members are on the verge of losing their health insurance because of the illegal division of their income by AFTRA’s predatory take over of what should be SAG shows–but you wouldn’t know it by reading the rest of the magazine. Hey, everything is just hunky dory.
Well, it is with SAG President Ken Howard and his USAN/UFS AFTRA First sycophants. After all this has been part of their plan all along, but, but, but’what happens, if now that they have all the shows, AFTRA decides they don’t need SAG’
A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief
Posted: Tue., Feb. 9, 2010, 9:04pm PT
AFTRA the deal of choice
TV producers shun SAG
By DAVE MCNARY
AFTRA has clearly become the deal of choice this pilot season, as producers shun SAG — which once dominated primetime.
With the season starting to wind down and move toward casting, a total of 62 pilots shot on digital have signed with the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists thus far, according to the union’s internal tracking.
Conversely, insiders believe that only few pilots have inked deals with the Screen Actors Guild — even though minimum terms of primetime deals in the SAG and AFTRA master contracts don’t vary significantly.
Hello, they are going with the AFTRA that will( and has) sold out actors.
SAG and AFTRA, which share jurisdiction on primetime shows shot in digital formats, had no comment Tuesday. But this pilot season appears to be a repeat of last year, when strike saber-rattling by SAG leaders sent nearly all of the studios and producers into the arms of AFTRA.
This is BS; One only has to read the SAG/AFTRA charters that are still in effect. AFTRA only has jurisdiction over shows “Done in the manner of a live broadcast!”
AFTRA has signed 23 ABC pilots, including “Mr. Sinshine” with Matthew Perry; “The Whole Truth,” produced by Jerry Bruckheimer; and “No Ordinary Family,” starring Michael Chiklis. The union has also signed 14 at NBC, including “The Rockford Files” and “Prime Suspect”; a dozen at CBS, including “Hawaii Five-O” and Chuck Lorre’s “Mike and Molly”; and 10 at Fox, including Shawn Ryan’s “Ridealong.”
SAG appears to be paying the price for its aggressive stance during 2008 and 2009, when AFTRA split off from joint negotiations and SAG insisted on a better deal than the other Hollywood unions.
Not really. SAG’s issues were different.
That led to AFTRA concluding a deal a year before SAG in July 2008 — despite SAG’s fervent opposition to ratification on the grounds that the AFTRA deal fell short in new media compensation.
Translation AFTRA, a union that had only a couple of network shows, sold out actors, with the likes of Tom Hanks and USAN/UFS “go-along-to-get-alongs” by voting for a producer friendly deal that undercut everything that SAG NED, President Alan Rosenberg, and the MF negotiators were fighting for.
Studios and producers are able to choose between SAG and AFTRA jurisdiction now that most pilots are shot via high-definition video. SAG has exclusive jurisdiction over projects shot in film — but that medium is no longer common in TV production.
“We shoot all of our shows in HD,” one studio exec said — adding that their decision to shoot digitally has nothing to do with the guilds. (Instead, the flexibility is a beneficial byproduct of the shift from film to digital.)
Well, that’s good, because as I just pointed out, jurisdiction has nothing to do with what the show is shot on, but, rather, the manner in which it is performed…live or on film,tape, digital or whaever.
SAG dominated pilot jursidiction until last year.
Producers have continued to opt for AFTRA deals — even though SAG members have voted in more moderate leaders who have moved toward mending fences with AFTRA.
Agreed! When Membership First Leadership was in charge, the rollovers in SAG didn’t make their move but when their group took over, the sellout/fix was in, and unless the ordinary SAG member steps up to the plate, it will remain in, until their health insurance is gone, and their hopes of making a living as an actor are completely decimated.
Advocates of a SAG-AFTRA merger contend that the issue of split jurisdiction’s a potential headache for working members amid tightened qualifications for the joint industry-union health and pension plans. SAG earnings aren’t counted toward the AFTRA plans and vice-versa.
In a development that’s troubling for SAG members, thesps were told at the guild’s membership meeting on October that declines in TV work had led to producer contributions to SAG’s health and pension plans sliding between 10% and 11% for 2009.
SAG’s national board voted on Jan. 31 to seek a joint negotiation with AFTRA on a new primetime deal, a weak after AFTRA’s strategy cabinet took the first step toward joint negotiations by voting to create a committee to explore that option.
Right! And what is it gonna accomplish, but to give all the power to AFTRA to keep any deal week–and, of course, AFTRA will continue to get all the shows for their service to the AMPTP. And until, SAG members kick out their betrayers, and get in leadership that will retake SAG’s jurisdiction, and hammer those who would destroy our once great guild, our rank and file actors will have to be content with acting as a sideline or hobby.
SAG has about 120,000 members, and AFTRA has 70,000, with about 45,000 thesps holding dual membership. Both primetime deals expire in June, 2011. SAG is obligated to begin talks with the companies in October for seven weeks; AFTRA’s talks have not been set.