September 16, 2008
1ST VICE PRESIDENT'S LETTER
By Kent McCord On September 1, Screen Actors Guild lost one of its finest, most dedicated and professional members -- Don LaFontaine. During his career he recorded more than 5,000 movie trailers and countless commercials and TV promos. On a personal level, when I first signed with the Tisherman Agency (now TGMD Talent Agency) many years ago, Don was one of the first to welcome me aboard and offer me career advice about voiceovers. He was open, accessible and generous to everyone. He was truly unique. On behalf of Screen Actors Guild, I extend our deepest sympathies to Don’s wife and three daughters, and to his extended family throughout our industry. With the holidays quickly approaching and 2008 winding down, another important Screen Actors Guild deadline will take place before the end of the year: On December 31, 2008, SAG’s Rule One will be vigorously enforced for all new media productions. What's Rule One? No member shall work as a performer or make an agreement to work as a performer for any producer who has not executed a basic minimum agreement with the Guild, which is in full force and effect. (A.) No member shall perform any services as a performer nor make an agreement to perform services as a performer for any producer against whom the Guild is conducting a strike, nor shall any member otherwise violate any strike order of the Guild. SAG has been covering new media productions for the past few years. In fact, we have more than 700 productions signed to new media agreements, and the number keeps growing. New media has changed the way the world of production works and the new order offers unprecedented opportunities for actors to create and own their projects. Until recently, producing even a short video required a production team and tens of thousands of dollars. Because of the risk involved, only a lucky few ever got the opportunity to produce. The cost of production, promotion and distribution has been drastically reduced, and it’s open season for industrious actors and other creative artists to make their own work and showcase their talents. SAG’s new media contracts make it easy to become signatory. So don't let the rumor mill, misinformed agents, or non-union producers and actors fake you into doing non-union new media work. You and your family deserve health and pension benefits and the protections that come with your SAG contracts. We know the Internet and other new media platforms are here to stay and traditional media companies are retooling to get on this fast track. DO NOT be left behind and find yourself working without union protections and risk being fined, suspended or expelled from your union. Call the Guild at (323) 549-6777 before you accept new media jobs. You can also e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. In closing, I’d like to thank all of you who participated in our year-long 75th anniversary celebrations. We kicked-off the festivities last October with the unveiling of our Award of Excellence star on Hollywood Boulevard. More recently, we enjoyed a hike in Griffith Park, watched a 4th of July movie screening, had a great night at Dodger Stadium and joined together for two fantastic family picnics. Next month we can look forward to SAG dedicating a tree in Griffith Park to all past, present and future members, and the event also will recognize the brave men and women who have fought fires in the park. On the evening of Monday, October 27, the Guild will be honored at the Hollywood Film Festival Awards in recognition of our members’ contributions to the silver screen. SAG members will be afforded a special offer for the festival’s week-long screenings at the Arclight Cinema. (See the Hollywood page of SAG.org for details.) It truly has been an extraordinary year with so many Hollywood members participating in these historic events. Thank you to each of you for your continued support and solidarity. ***IMPORTANT NOTICE***
ATTEND THE NEXT TOWN HALL
What: Update regarding the status of TV/Theatrical contract negotiations for Hollywood members When: Tuesday, September 23 7-9:30 p.m. Where: WGA Theatre (NOT at WGA Headquarters) 135 S. Doheny Drive Beverly Hills, CA 90211 Speakers: National President Alan Rosenberg and National Executive Director & Chief Negotiator Doug Allen Parking: Validated parking available in rear garage one block south of Wilshire Blvd. Note: Please bring your SAG membership card (paid thru October 2008) for admittance. Parents/guardians of SAG members under 18 may attend with the minor. * * *
NEGOTIATIONS UPDATE - SAG FIGHTS ON
As back-channel talks continue between Screen Actors Guild and management in an attempt to resolve differences in the proposed TV/Theatrical Contract, SAG members are making their thoughts known regarding the employers' latest offer -- via response cards they received in the Guild's recent special bulletin. The bulletin outlines key discrepancies between the June 30 offer put forward by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and the goals members like you have asked SAG to achieve in these negotiations. The following excerpts from the bulletin remind actors what's at stake and why a better offer is worth fighting for: Why SAG is Holding the Line
- We cannot endorse a contract that makes non-union production in new media acceptable.
- You deserve residuals in new media, which will be the distribution path for most television and film in the near future.
- You should have the choice whether to promote a product in a scripted TV show or film, and you should be paid to do so.
- There hasn't been an increase in the mileage reimbursement rate since 1980. Meanwhile, gas prices are nearly $4 a gallon.
- "Force majeure" ensures actor pay in the event that unforeseeable circumstances shut down a production. Your employers want to take away that collective bargaining provision.
- The needs of background actors and stunt coordinators have been ignored for too long.
The bulletin elaborates on these key points and answers questions frequently asked by members: Why not just take the deal – other unions have? This contract represents serious income for you, both now and in the future. It’s simply not wise for a union to endorse non-union work or to sell out residuals in new media, which represents the future of our profession. And, we cannot agree to rollbacks that gut our contract of provisions we have had for 75 years. The working life of an actor is not the same as a writer’s or director’s and our contract solution can’t always be the same. Why do we insist on residuals in all new media now? Because it is all but certain that giving up on residuals in new media will mean the beginning of the end of residuals in all media. We know this is a relatively new business model, but like everyone else, we know it is growing by leaps and bounds. We can’t let residuals slip away, because once they’re gone – they’re gone for good. Why not allow some non-union work in new media? Because it guts the meaning of unionism to encourage our signatory companies to produce non-union. These are companies that sign our contracts and agree to abide by our terms. Being a SAG signatory means something – it means the studio or network produces union. We can’t ever let that change. We owe it to our fellow actors around the country to make sure that work opportunities stay union. SAG members already fight a pitched battle against the encroachment of non-union production. What’s so important about protecting the “force majeure” provision? Force majeure provides a compensation mechanism for actors’ salaries when a production gets shut down indefinitely due to an “act of God.” That is a collectively bargained provision that actors shouldn’t have to bargain on their own. Why shouldn’t actors just be flexible and endorse whatever products are slipped into their scripts? Because product integration is really just unpaid commercial endorsement and could put an actor in conflict with his or her commercial work or personal convictions. An actor should be notified and have the right of consent and the ability to bargain for compensation.
COMMERCIALS CONTRACT EXTENDED
On August 27, Screen Actors Guild, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the advertising industry’s ANA/AAAA Joint Policy Committee on Broadcast Talent Union Relations (JPC) jointly announced an agreement to extend, through March 31, 2009, the terms of their commercials contracts. The extension adds six months to the previous two-year extension the parties agreed to, which covered the period from 2006 to 2008. That extension was set to expire on October 29, 2008.
SAG FOUNDATION ACTORS CENTER OPENS DOORS
The dream of a place where all actors can congregate and develop their art, regardless of experience level or union affiliation, has become a reality. The Screen Actors Guild Foundation Actors Center was dedicated in late July. While preference will be given to Screen Actors Guild members, any actor will be able to use the abundant resources at the new facility, located on the mezzanine level of SAG National Headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard. Actors can take advantage of the center’s video and audio equipment to edit demos, use the center’s computer lab to update their resumes and do research in the center’s library, which has a wealth of books about acting and the industry. “This space will truly allow us to develop and maintain the artistic community in accordance with the Foundation’s mission,” said SAG Foundation Executive Director Marcia Smith. Smith added that the inspiration for the center was Chicago’s Kauffher Center. The center also will be home to popular foundation programs such as the LifeRaft professional development seminars, the Conversations series, which features discussions with high-profile actors, and the Casting Access Project, which creates introductions and dialogue between SAG members and casting directors. Special guests including Candy Spelling, wife to the late producer Aaron Spelling, for whom the Aaron Spelling Place portion of the center was dedicated, were among the first to check out the facility on July 24. “One of Aaron’s main legacies in this business was the discovery and development of new talent,” Spelling said. “My hope is that the Actors Center will continue to do just that.” For more information about the center, go to the SAG Foundation website by clicking here, or by calling (323) 549-6708. REVAMPED SAG FOUNDATION WEBSITE Visit the newly redesigned sagfoundation.org, where we invite you to log on and create your own password so that you may explore the programs and benefits we continue to offer, free of charge, to eligible SAG members as part of our mission to assist, educate and inspire actors to their fullest career potential. You’ll also want to read about the Actors Center, a one-of-a-kind resource space in Los Angeles with a multi-purpose room, classroom, computer lab, library and lounge where actors can learn, hone their skills and network. The Screen Actors Guild Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1985 and funded independently of the Screen Actors Guild. The foundation does not receive SAG member dues or initiation fees, but offers substantive services to Guild members, free of charge. We are funded entirely by grants and donations.
LABOR DAY PICNIC
More than 500 attendees celebrated a day of camaraderie and workers’ rights at the 4th Annual Labor Day Picnic on August 30. President Alan Rosenberg, 1st Vice President/Hollywood Chair Kent McCord and National Executive Director/Chief Negotiator Doug Allen spoke to the crowd to give an update on contract negotiations. Then the Hollywood Holiday Host provided a day of fun activities and entertainment. The Holiday Host Committee wishes to thank all the raffle donors and volunteers whose efforts made for a most enjoyable day.
SAG DODGER NIGHT
President Rosenberg throws the ceremonial first pitch. In excess of 1,000 tickets were sold to SAG members and their guests for the Dodgers-Phillies game on August 14, where SAG was honored on its 75th anniversary. Highlights included the first pitch by President Alan Rosenberg and singing of the national anthem by Secretary-Treasurer Connie Stevens. During warm up, Dodger Tommy Lasorda shared laughs with Stevens and Rosenberg.
YOUR CREDIT UNION IS SOLID
You’re always on solid ground at AFTRA-SAG Federal Credit Union. Troubled financial times like these may, in fact, best illustrate the value of AFTRA-SAG Federal Credit Union membership. Regardless of economic climate, ASFCU steers a steady, prudent, conservative course, never adopting practices that would jeopardize your money. The credit union has weighed every policy and direction very carefully during its 46-year history – with the “best possible benefit” to members always top-of-mind. ASFCU has never made high-risk real estate loans, and the credit union does not have a single one of this loan type in its current portfolio. And even in rough financial times like these, the credit union continues to maintain a higher-than-required capital (cash) ratio to operate. For more information, visit aftrasagfcu.org.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
Hollywood Film Society applications will be accepted until capacity is reached. Even though the season has opened already, there are still plenty of movies to see. The season began on May 30 and runs until April of 2009. While full rate ($75) applies, you will still be guaranteed a minimum of 26 films over the course of the season as the film society generally schedules two films for most screening weekends. Additionally, the studios invite our members to numerous off-site bonus screenings (some with Q&A sessions). Film screenings are held at the Directors Guild of America. Members are issued a card that admits the member plus one guest. Click here for more information and application. SEPTEMBER Tuesday, September 16 – Performing Artists’ Medical Clinic offers free medical services to low-income musicians, dancers, actors and other performing artists. Please call The Actors Fund (intake line) for eligibility criteria and appointments. Income requirements apply. These services are available on the third Tuesday of every month, 6-9 p.m. For more information, call (323) 933-9244, extension 32, or go to actorsfund.org. Tuesday, September 23 – Member Town Hall. See details earlier in this newsletter. Wednesday, September 24 – New member orientation, James Cagney Board Room, 10 a.m. Wednesday, September 24 – Joint Interactive Games and TV Animation Caucus, James Cagney Board Room, 7-9 p.m. All paid-up SAG members who work under the Interactive Media agreements and the TV Animation agreements are urged to attend this important contract caucus. This could be the last meeting before negotiations begin on the Interactive and Animation Contracts, and it is vital that you attend. Come early and bring your membership card. For more information, contact Elizabeth Moseley regarding interactive at (323) 549-6821 or Deborah Berg regarding TV animation at (323) 549-6833. OCTOBER Wednesday, October 1 – iActor resume workshop with casting director Bonnie Gillespie. RSVP at email@example.com. For more information, please contact (323) 549-6001. Thursday, October 2 – MOVE (Members Organizing Volunteer Efforts) meeting, James Cagney Board Room, 7-9 p.m. The MOVE hotline is (323) 549-6683. Monday, October 6 – Hollywood Division open board meeting, James Cagney Board Room, 6 p.m. A light meal will be provided. Reservation is required. Wednesday, October 8 – New member orientation, James Cagney Board Room, 1 p.m. Thursday, October 9 – Low budget contract signatory workshops. James Cagney Board Room. 6-8 p.m. Reservation is required by visiting sagindie.org or calling (323) 549-6064. Monday, October 13 – Guild offices closed in observance of the Columbus Day holiday. Tuesday, October 21 – Performing Artists’ Medical Clinic offers free medical services to low-income musicians, dancers, actors and other performing artists. Please call The Actors Fund (intake line) for eligibility criteria and appointments. Income requirements apply. These services are available on the third Tuesday of every month, 6-9 p.m. For more information, call (323) 933-9244, extension 32, or go to actorsfund.org. Wednesday, October 22 – New member orientation, James Cagney Board Room, 10 a.m. NOVEMBER Monday, November 3 – Actors Work Program Orientation offers group and individual career counseling, job training and education, financial assistance, and job placement services. Services are offered the first Monday of every month, 1-2:30 p.m. at The Actors Fund, 5757 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 400. For more information, call (323) 933-9244, extension 50, or go to www.actorsfund.org. Wednesday, November 5 – New member orientation, James Cagney Board Room, 1 p.m. Monday, November 10 – Hollywood Division open board meeting, James Cagney Board Room, 6 p.m. A light meal will be provided. Reservation is required. Wednesday, November 12 – Screen Actors Guild Alternative Health Fair, James Cagney Board Room, 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. The fair is presented by the Hollywood Healthcare Safetynet Committee and is open to all industry union members and their dependents. Please arrive early. Attendance does not guarantee service from all providers. Click here for the flyer. Thursday, November 13 – Low budget contract signatory workshops, James Cagney Board Room. 6-8 p.m. Reservation is required by visiting sagindie.org or calling (323) 549-6064. Tuesday, November 18 – Performing Artists’ Medical Clinic offers free medical services to low-income musicians, dancers, actors and other performing artists. Please call The Actors Fund (intake line) for eligibility criteria and appointments. Income requirements apply. These services are available on the third Tuesday of every month, 6-9 p.m. For more information, call (323) 933-9244, extension 32, or go to actorsfund.org. Wednesday, November 19 – New member orientation, James Cagney Board Room, 10 a.m. Wednesday, November 26 – Guild offices closed at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, November 27 – Guild offices closed in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. Friday, November 28 – Guild offices closed in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. The above listings are subject to change. Check SAG.org for the most up-to-date information. If you’d like more information on an event and there is no contact information listed above, call the Hollywood Executive Office at (323) 549-6459.
Westside Rentals is offering a 25 percent off corporate discount for Screen Actors Guild members with at WestsideRentals.com membership. For more information, contact Sean Anderson by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (310) 576-1444. NOTE: Discounts are administered by entities independent of SAG. Questions about each offer must be handled by the providers. The Guild does not endorse any of these services.
HAVE A QUESTION OR COMMENT FOR YOUR GUILD?
Hollywood members can submit ideas, questions and concerns for the Guild's Hollywood Division at email@example.com. You may also call the Hollywood Executive Office at (323) 549-6459. Your letters and concerns may be addressed in a future publication. For questions or comments regarding negotiations, e-mail Contract2008@sag.org.
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