July 15, 2009
Dear Hollywood Members:
First, I’d like to thank those of you who attended the annual Hollywood Division Membership Meeting. The elected and staff are always so appreciative to have any opportunity to meet with our Hollywood members and to hear what you have to say.
Hopefully you’ve experienced an increase in SAG auditions and/or actual work since the ratification of the 2009 TV/Theatrical Contract. It is my strong suggestion that the Guild immediately explore the possibility of holding forums for members to discuss any concerns, problems or suggestions regarding work in new media and other contract-related issues. If you have immediate concerns or questions, you can contact the Theatrical Department at (323) 549-6828 or the Television Department at (323) 549-6835, or refer to the updated contracts resources anytime on SAG.org. Also, please share your valuable experiences working under the new contract via e-mail at email@example.com.
I’d like to congratulate our two Ralph Morgan Award recipients and Hollywood National Board members Sumi Haru and George Coe. The award ceremony took place at the membership meeting and both Ms. Haru and Mr. Coe and their families enjoyed a lovely event bestowing an award that both are truly worthy of receiving. Congratulations once again.
It’s been a very challenging year for SAG members and American workers in general. The right to unionize is under attack and the strength of unions seems to be, unfortunately, weakening. Those of us who were members of the original 2008/09 TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee truly believed we were fighting the good fight for all SAG members. The Hollywood members of the committee were determined to bargain for a better contract than what was offered by the AMPTP. We were more than aware of the fact that neither side was going to achieve all that was wanted and/or needed for our respective members. We were prepared to sacrifice in some areas to secure residual payments in an area we all knew and still believe will be extremely profitable for our employers in the very near future. But unfortunately, that never came to pass.
Now more than ever, we must be hyper-vigilant and aware of the changes in our careers and how SAG can assist in the next chapter of how our work is and will be produced and distributed. The Guild cannot move positively forward, with strength and leverage, without the full participation of its members.
Award recipients George Coe and Sumi Haru
National Board members George Coe and Sumi Haru are two familiar faces at Screen Actors Guild, and because of their outstanding behind-the-scenes contributions, they earned the coveted Ralph Morgan Award. They received the Hollywood Division’s highest honor on June 28 at the Division’s annual membership meeting.
Former National 1st Vice President and current National Board Member Kent McCord presented to Coe, a versatile character actor with numerous screen and stage credits. His work on behalf of SAG over the years has been influential in the evolution of its contracts.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be given this by your peers,” said Coe, who has been involved with SAG for more than four decades. “This award is incredibly meaningful to me.”
Coe, whose screen legacy includes such films as Kramer vs. Kramer, an Academy Award nomination for his short film The Dove and a recently acclaimed guest starring role on Grey’s Anatomy, said, “Without the protection of SAG I wouldn’t be here today. I would probably be the oldest living busboy.”
Coe gave a fiery speech about the power of the union and the necessity of solidarity. “If it sounds like I’m giving you a lecture instead of a thank you, I am,” he said. “And why not, I’m 80 years old!”
Actor-artist Bernie Casey presented the other Ralph Morgan Award of the ceremony to actor-producer-journalist Sumi Haru, a National Board member since 1975 and former 1st vice president who, in 1995, served as interim president of the Guild. She also has served on the national board of the AFL-CIO.
Casey worked with Haru and others in the 1970s to create what would become SAG’s Ethnic Employment Opportunities Committee. They both were recruited to the board by then National President Dennis Weaver. Haru also was integral to expanding the scope and coverage of the “American Scene” language found today in our Codified Basic Agreement.
“We were steadfast in our pursuit of justice, equality and fairness,” Casey said, detailing their efforts, which included meetings with the networks to effect change.
Of her fearlessness, he said, “If I had to be in a bunker, I would want it to be with Sumi Haru.”
Haru said her past four decades of advocacy can be boiled down to a simple mission: casting people of color in roles of Americans. “I wanted to play your next door neighbor,” she said. And though she has performed roles on television such as “television reporter” and “public defender, “ she told the audience that she continues to go out on auditions where she is asked to put on an accent to play a “Korean madam” or an “Alaskan Inuit woman.”
Fortunately, for every audition like those, there have been bright spots, too, she said – no doubt reflective of an industry she has helped to change, little by little.
She closed her remarks with warm thoughts for all in the room, which included board members, past Ralph Morgan recipients and a diverse cross-section of the membership.
“I’m really proud to have been in the trenches with you,” she said.
ABOUT THE AWARD: Ralph Morgan was the first president of Screen Actors Guild. The award that is his namesake was established in 1981 and is given periodically to honor individuals for exceptional service to the Guild’s Hollywood membership.
Screen Actors Guild announced June 9 that members voted overwhelmingly to approve the TV/Theatrical Contract by a vote of 78 percent to 22 percent.
For more details, click here.
Rebecca Yee, Shoshana Vogel, Bernie Casey, Aisha Coley,
L. Scott Caldwell, Bill Duke, Kendra Carter and Odetta Watkins
On June 18, the SAG Ethnic Employment Opportunities Committee and SAG Affirmative Action/Diversity Department hosted an African American Membership Caucus in the James Cagney Board Room. The standing-room only crowd consisted of members, brought together around a panel discussion focused on past and current portrayals and the level of employment of African American actors in entertainment.
L. Scott Caldwell, SAG Hollywood Division board member and vice chair of the committee’s Hollywood efforts, moderated the panel of accomplished African American industry professionals, which included actor-artist Bernie Casey, Warner Bros. Director of Programming Odetta Watkins, actor-director-producer Bill Duke, casting director Aisha Coley and Director of NBC Universal Talent Diversity Initiatives Kendra Carter.
Following the conversation with the panelists, members were given an opportunity to expand the dialogue with questions and comments of their own. Duke made the call for actors to diversify their talents to become creators of content. He discussed the limitless possibilities opening up in new media at the same time that the ability to make a movie on one’s own has become a very real technical and financial possibility for more and more people. Casey offered historical perspective on the broader evolution and inclusion of African American actors while industry professionals Coley, Carter and Watkins shared practical advice and personal recommendations. Caldwell provided her perspective as a working actor as well as from a position of SAG leadership. She articulated a sentiment expressed loudly and often throughout the evening: “Keep being an artist, no matter what."
If you would like more information on this and other programming from the Affirmative Action/ Diversity Department, click here, or call the department at (323) 549-6644.
Charlie Hill, Ivy Bethune and George Takei
Original Star Trek cast member George Takei and Native American comedian Charlie Hill are long-time SAG members who were among the artists honored at this year’s Ivy Bethune Tri-Union Diversity Awards, presented on June 29 in Los Angeles at the East West Theater in Downtown.
It was an evening of wit and wisdom – wit from the presenters and wisdom from the recipients. This year’s theme, “Storytellers,” commend individuals who, through sharing their own stories, have encouraged cross-cultural understanding and inspired many to express their dreams and creativity. The awards were presented by the Equal Employment Opportunities Committees of Actors’ Equity Association and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and the Ethnic Employment Opportunities Committee of Screen Actors Guild.
Tri-union member Takei was awarded for his long-standing history of activism for artists of every race and creed, including his work with the Arts in Transit program that creates opportunities for artists within the public sector, in addition to his high-profile work on issues of marriage equality and sexual orientation discrimination.
“I love the word ‘union,’” said Takei, a SAG member for 51 years. “It’s a union of artists. It’s artists that connect the diversity of our society. The artists cross the barrier to be agents of change. It’s the artists who bring people together. Our diversity won’t divide us but bring us together in oneness.”
Stand-up comic and storyteller Charlie Hill uses his humor to share experiences unique to Native American culture. He received his SAG card when he played “Second Brave” in the 1970s TV version of The Oregon Trail.
“Everything we’re going through in this country, we’ll get through it,” said Hill. “It’s the power of the human spirit. You cannot extinguish the human spirit. It’s impossible. But if you really want help in this country, come to the Indian people. We have the owner’s manual.”
The other recipients this year were writer and teacher Dr. Victoria Ann Lewis (AEA) and dancer Cheryl Burke (AFTRA).
Members Pat Loeb, Millena Gay, Diana Jordan and master of ceremonies Jason George presented the humorous, fast-paced show with Mylo Ironbear of the SAG Foundation providing the invocation.
ABOUT THE AWARDS: Ivy Bethune Tri-Union Diversity Awards celebrate individuals and organizations in the entertainment industry that have taken an active role to create a more representational, multicultural community by helping build a foundation for diversity within the industry. The Awards are named after actor and tri-union member Ivy Bethune, who has fought for inclusion and equal opportunity for all.
Screen Actors Guild, the Actors Fund, Sony, Disney, Warner Bros. and Paramount convened with hundreds of individual arts advocates on June 12 for the 2009 L.A. Art Town Hall at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center. The arts-focused dialog was facilitated by Arts for L.A., a non-profit arts organization working to foster a hearty environment in which arts and culture can thrive and be accessible to all Los Angeles residents.
Americans for the Arts President and CEO Bob Lynch gave the keynote address, which discussed how federal and local advocacy efforts are garnering extraordinary results in strengthening investment in the arts, enhancing the value to the general public. Later, a panel tackled the topic of "The Future of Arts Funding in Los Angeles," which noted the sober reality of funding in light of a down economy.
The Hollywood Film Society will continue to accept applications until the society reaches capacity. For an annual membership fee of $90, members and a guest are guaranteed a minimum of 26 first-run feature films at the Directors Guild of America. The 2009-2010 Season began May 29 with Angels and Demons, the sequel to 2006 blockbuster The Da Vinci Code. More recent screenings included a double-feature weekend with Public Enemies starring Johnny Depp and The Answer Man starring Jeff Daniels. Click here for more information and applications.
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Also, don’t forget to come to the SAG/UCLA Blood Drive on July 23! You can make an appointment. See below for more details.
Tuesday, July 14 – SAG Foundation LifeRaft Live Stream Pilot Program – “Journey of the Working Actor,” 6-8 p.m. To participate in this program, visit the SAG Foundation LifeRaft Live Video Stream Gallery here. (Enter show password “liferaft07” at the scheduled show times. Submit your questions to panelists and moderators during the events by e-mailing LifeRaft@SAGFoundation.org.
Wednesday July 15 – SAG Affirmative Action/ Diversity Department presents… “Know your Rights! What EVERY Member Should Know to Empower and Protect Yourself in the Workplace and Entertainment Industry.” Topic of discussion: ageism and age discrimination. James Cagney Board Room, 2-4 p.m. To RSVP or for more information, call (323) 549-6644 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, July 21 – Performing Artists’ Medical Clinic offers free medical services to low-income musicians, dancers, actors and other performing artists. Call The Actors Fund (intake line) for eligibility criteria and appointments, 6-9 p.m. For more information, call (323) 933-9244, ext. 32, or go to actorsfund.org.
Tuesday, July 21 – SAG Foundation LifeRaft Live Stream Pilot Program – “Plan Z: Steps to Surviving the Current Economy,” 6-8 p.m. To participate in this program, visit the SAG Foundation LifeRaft Live Video Stream Gallery here. (Enter show password “liferaft07” at the scheduled show times.) Submit your questions to panelists and moderators during the events by e-mailing LifeRaft@SAGFoundation.org.
Wednesday, July 22 – New member orientation, James Cagney Board Room, 10 a.m.
Thursday, July 23 – SAG/UCLA Blood Drive, James Cagney Board Room, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. For an appointment time, contact Leslie Slomka at
(323) 549-6009 or e-mail email@example.com. Click here for flyer.
Tuesday, July 28 – SAG Foundation LifeRaft Live Stream Pilot Program – “An Evening with Casting Directors,” 6-8 p.m. To participate in this program, visit the SAG Foundation LifeRaft Live Video Stream Gallery here. (Enter show password “liferaft07” at the scheduled show times.) Submit your questions to panelists and moderators during the events by e-mailing LifeRaft@SAGFoundation.org.
Wednesday, August 5 – New member orientation, James Cagney Board Room, 1 p.m.
Wednesday, August 5 – “Getting and Keeping Health Insurance,” a monthly seminar for the entertainment industry and performing arts and visual arts communities who want to know their options for obtaining affordable health insurance and healthcare in the Los Angeles area. Participants will learn to use the Actors Fund’s Access to Health Insurance/Resources for Care website (ahirc.org). Registration is encouraged. The Actors Fund, 5757 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 400. 1:30-3 p.m. For more information, contact Aaron King at (323) 933-9244, ext. 38, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, August 12 – SAG Affirmative Action/Diversity Department presents… “Know your Rights! What EVERY Member Should Know to Empower and Protect Yourself in the Workplace and Entertainment Industry.” Topic of discussion: sexism and sexual harassment. James Cagney Board Room, 10 a.m.-noon. To RSVP or for more information, (323) 549-6644 or e-mail email@example.com.
Thursday, August 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. (Be sure to include name and e-mail address.)
Tuesday, August 18 – Performing Artists’ Medical Clinic offers free medical services to low-income musicians, dancers, actors and other performing artists. Call The Actors Fund (intake line) for eligibility criteria and appointments, 6-9 p.m. For more information call (323) 933-9244, ext. 32, or go to actorsfund.org.
Wednesday, August 19 – New member orientation, James Cagney Board Room, 10 a.m.
SAVE THE DATE
Saturday, September 5 – Hollywood Holiday Host’s 5th Annual Labor Day Picnic. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Camrose Picnic Area at the Hollywood Bowl, 2101 Highland Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90068. Click here for flyer.
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.