An “UNFORTUNATE ,” Dated, Certified, Curt response to the Ol’ SAG Watchdog

from SAG’s Deputy National Executive Director for Contracts Sallie C Weaver. SW BONUS: An epic poem by Raymond Rhime titled “Ode to a Certified Letter.”

Before, getting to Ms. Weaver’s Unfortunate, dated, certified, curt letter, a bit of background to explain why I think the issue under discussion is an important one.

For the last couple of years, I have heard from both former and current SAG board members that certain ISDN endowed members of the New York board continue to work non-union foreign commercials. Not only that, but that in committee, they’ve managed to convince other committee members that they should be able to continue to do this work under the guise that new non-signatory foreign clients could be brought into the fold.

The rationalization being that “they” will be so impressed with “us” that “they” will see the light and become union signatories! Of course the “us” in the little scenario does NOT include ALL of “us, ” but rather only those of “us” in-the-know—and therein lies part of the problem.

The first time, I heard this “Bring ‘Em Into To Fold” theory was a few years back at a meeting of voice-over actors in the AFTRA Board Room. I was a taken aback when the V/O actor chairing the informational meeting talked about the non-union cable promos that he was doing while an AFTRA staff person seated next to him on the podium nodded his approval. Yep, according to the theory being espoused, it was just a matter of time until all those “Overwhelmed-By-Our-Talent” cable executives signed on the dotted line. In the meantime, hey, the “Bring-‘Em-Into-The-Fold” actor could always use the extra cash, ah, you know, wink, wink. Yep, just a matter of time! Hey, CNN has only been non-union for around a quarter of a century.

The only problem with this whole deal is that the “Bring-’em-Into-The-fold” theory is being circumvented in favor of the more appealing “Why-Buy-The-Cow-When-You-Can-Milk-It-Through-The-Fence” theory..

This “Bring-‘Em-Into-The-Fold” tactic, to my way of thinking, is one reason that AFTRA finds itself in such dire straits. And is ample motivation for SAG to do whatever is necessary to stop even one milk stained digit from poking in between the planks of Global Rule Oneno matter how it might pass through.

I sent the following certified letter to SAG’s Deputy National executive Director for Contracts, Sallie Weaver.

Ms. Sallie Weaver
Deputy National Executive Director for Contracts
5757 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036-3600

Dear Ms. Weaver,

This letter is in follow up to the question that I posed at the March 28th 2004 Hollywood Membership meeting in regards to “Made In/Played In” non-signatory foreign commercials.

For the record, is there now, or has there been in the recent past, any understanding, method or process where a SAG member can work a non-union/non-signatory, “Made In/Played In” foreign commercial–and then pay the appropriate percentage of the money earned into SAG’s P&H fund by way of a pass through company?

To be even more specific: Am I, along with ALL SAG members in good standing, allowed, under any understanding, to work “Made-in /Played-in” non-signatory/non-union foreign commercials–then make P&H contributions on that job that would be funneled into SAG’s P&H fund through a pass-through company? I would appreciate a prompt written response.


Arlin Miller

After over a month and a half wait, during which I was subsequently asked to forward an e-mail copy of the letter, I finally received Ms. Weaver’s barbed response. I apologize for taking so long putting it up for your perusal, but I needed to go over it first, and, well, Sallie is a lawyer, and gosh, I had a hell of a time finding a fine tooth comb. Also, we had to send it to the SW debunkalator lab to be dusted for not only fingerprints but tidiness.

Here it is for your enjoyment and enlightenment, Sallie Weaver’s DATED and CERTIFIED letter!

May 25, 2004

Dear Mr. Miller:

I am in receipt of your undated letter received in my office April 6, 2004.

There is not now nor has there ever been since May 1, 2002 (to use your unfortunate phrase) any understanding, method or process where a SAG member can work a non-union/non-signatory, “Made In/Played In” foreign commercial—and then pay the appropriate percentage of the money earned into SAG’s P&H fund by way of a pass through company.


Sallie C. Weaver
Deputy National Executive Director
For Contracts

Meow!!! Ouch! Get out the iodine! Gosh, I feel so ashamed that the page inside my letter was not dated! However, I am rather proud that my certified letter was was not only stamped and DATED but that I have a written DATED receipt from SAG. A little tidbit that was conspicuously missing in Ms. Weaver’s curt, corrective, opening line! Don’t you just hate it when someone gets it only half right!

Like in the second paragraph of Ms. Weavers unfortunate, snippy mischaracterization of my phrasing. Hey, I rechecked my letter and I still can’t seem to find that unfortunate “has there EVER been since May 1, 2002” phrase. You know, I don’t mind being the target of a zinger! But, if you are going to zap my phrasing, please phrase it correctly! Unfortunately, mischaracterization of opposing viewpoints that challenge the current administration’s agenda seems to be the current MO at 5757 Wilshire.

Oh, well, the important thing is that Ms. Weaver has gone ON THE RECORD in her “Since May 1, 2002.” declaration.. Hmmmm? Well, anyway there are a few more folks at SAG that your Ol’ SAG Watchdog would like to get on the record with a couple of reworded questions before we proceed with the elusive “Made-in/Played-in” matter.

A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief

SAG WATCHDOG BONUS: SW Poet lariat Raymond Rhime feels that Sallie took umbrage at his epic poem “Ode to an Eager Beaver” mentioning Ms. Weaver. Heartbroken, he has penned another epic poem of longing entitled “Ode to a Certified Letter”

Poetry Lovers Click here for Raymond and his pet pig Merger