Houston 2011:01

days since last accident 181
The Official E-Newsletter of the Houston Branch
The Official E-Newsletter of the Houston Branch
January 2011


On December 4 the Joint National Board of Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists overwhelmingly approved the tentative agreement reached with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on November 7 – a deal which it is now recommending to the respective union memberships.

Eligible SAG and AFTRA members will vote on the proposed successor agreement to the Producer-Screen Actors Guild Codified Basic Agreement for feature motion pictures, scripted network primetime television and pay television programs; Exhibit A of the AFTRA National Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting, covering scripted network primetime and pay television programs; and The CW Supplement, which applies to both unions.

The board passed the motion to approve and send to the memberships a recommendation of a “yes” vote by 89.29 percent to 10.71 percent.

Ratification ballots mailed to all eligible AFTRA and SAG members on Friday, December 10, with a return deadline of 5 p.m. (PST),  January 14, 2011. Due to the holidays, the time period for reviewing and returning ballots will be extended to five weeks (rather than the traditional three-week time period) in order to afford every member the opportunity to carefully review the terms of the proposed agreements before voting. Tabulation will occur immediately upon the conclusion of balloting.

Additionally, informational meetings for members will be scheduled in select cities across the country including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Florida, Washington, D.C.-Baltimore, San Francisco and Atlanta.

Also on December 4, the National Board of Screen Actors Guild overwhelmingly approved the tentative agreement reached with the AMPTP on November 10 regarding the new Basic Cable Live Action, Basic Cable Animation and Television Animation agreements.

The National Board voted to send the Basic Cable Live Action tentative agreement to the membership for ratification by mailed ballot with the Board's positive recommendation. Those ballots will be mailed to eligible SAG members in late January, with an expected return date in early February. Tabulation will occur immediately upon the conclusion of balloting.

The board ratified the smaller Basic Cable Animation and Television Animation contracts directly, effective upon the ratification of the Television and Motion Picture contracts.

For more details on these tentatively approved deals, including deal highlights, visit SAG.org.


The 2011 season for Austin Actors Conservatory promises another year of events to help you hone your skills, learn the contracts and create work opportunities. SAG and AFTRA members can join the Austin Actors Conservatory for $25 and attend any of the events for free. To see the 2011 AAC schedule of events, click here. Join the Austin Actors Conservatory and watch your network grow.


Dallas/Ft. Worth and Houston Branch SAG members can now get up-to-the-minute information on Texas and regional castings. Go to Twitter.com and ask to join the TxSAGNetwork. This is a members-only site providing casting information and notices to SAG members around the clock. Adjust your own setting to keep your information “private,” if you choose, and enable your mobile device to send the information directly to you. Sign up, stay tuned and break a leg!


It’s time to update our SAG Stunt Performer Directory for 2011. Are you listed? Click here to determine if you are included or if your information is still current.

To request a change or add your information to the directory, request a stunt performer form from Sheila Cooper at sheila.cooper@sag.org or call (800) 724-0767, option 7, or (214) 379-1171.


New: Trai Allgeier, Cora Michelle Campbell, Andres Elizondo, Jerry Goff, MVP, Tim A. Moore, Scott Muller, Valerie Posas, Allison Victoria, Misty White, Michael Whitener

Transfers-In: Ronald S Cohoon, Amy Gillespie, Derick James, James C. Leary, Julie Lund, Porscha Radcliffe, Dwayne A. Thomas


The Guild has been contacted by these productions about becoming signatory to one of our collective bargaining agreements. These producers may not have completed the signatory process at this time. It's the responsibility of each member to confirm each producer has signed the applicable contract before making an agreement to render services. Failure to confirm the signatory status before rendering services may lead to disciplinary charges being filed. If you have any questions, please contact the office at (800) 724-0767, option 7, or (214) 379-1171.

Negotiation is Complete – 
The Next Step is Up to You

By Robert Nelson
Houston President and National Board Member

Well, the TV/Theatrical Contract is done and now it is time for the membership to vote. I am sure that you will be bombarded with the usual information and misinformation that accompanies each of these contracts. A series of informational presentations will be provided, including one at the Houston Branch membership meeting January 7.

I have seen a lot of concerns coming down the Internet - such things as the deal was completed too soon, travel rollbacks are too severe, the increases were too low, and we are still behind AFTRA. These are all legitimate concerns. Of even greater concern to the members of the Houston Branch might be new media, DVD residuals and perhaps performance capture.

It is for that reason that you should read the agreement, voice your concerns, attend informational meetings and cast a vote for your contract.

I look forward to seeing you at our membership meeting.

Houston Branch SAG/AFTRA Membership Meeting

When: Friday, January 7, 2011
5-7 p.m.

5 p.m.: Houston Board/Council Mixer with New Members
6 p.m.: Catch the latest news on work in Texas, TV/Theatrical Contract negotiations, leadership team activities and the creation of one union for all performers.

Where: Rainbow Lodge
2011 Ella Blvd.
Houston, TX  77008
(in the Heights just inside Loop 610 at East T.C. Jester Blvd.)

RSVP is required. 

RSVP to Lane Buckman at lbuckman@aftra.com, (800) 922-3872 or (214) 363-8300. SAG and AFTRA members only. Only active, paid-up members in good standing are eligible to vote at the meeting. Parents/guardians of young performers under 18 years old are welcome.

Master Class with Beth Sepko

When: Saturday, January 29, 2011
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Where: Houston Community College Spring Branch

Cost: Free, for current SAG and AFTRA members only

Casting director Beth Sepko will hold a master class in January for SAG and AFTRA members only. This double Emmy nominee for her work on Friday Night Lights and the HBO movie Temple Grandin will bring her expertise to Houston for one day only. Class size is limited. Make sure your headshot and resume are posted and viewable on iActor and sign up now!

To RSVP/register, send picture and resume to Sheila.Cooper@sag.org by January 25.

Leadership in 2011

The current Houston Branch Council began its new term of service in September. Newly elected National Board Member and President Robert Nelson and Vice President Tommy Townsend join Secretary-Treasurer Kit Gwin and Council Members at Large Bob Boudreaux, Dee Dawson, Sonny Opiela and Pamela Denise Weaver. The current Houston Branch Council represents members in South Texas, including Austin and San Antonio.

The Houston Branch Council provides direction and leadership for the Branch and welcomes any and all who wish to participate at the committee level throughout South Texas. Areas that need member involvement are:

• Houston Conservatory
• Union Members Developing Work
• Austin Actors Conservatory
• Screen Actors Guild Awards Viewing Party
• Script to Screen Program

If you are interested in participating, please contact Trish Avery at trish.avery@sag.org or call (800) 724-0767, option 7 or (214) 379-1171.

Concerning the Contract

By Linda Dowell
Regional Branch Division Executive Director

Occasionally a contract issue will surface, become the hot topic of the day, and quickly become mired with confusion and mixed messages. Let me try to clear up what I may in regard to the issue of local hire.

“Local hire” is one of those terms that is used, and often abused, in our neck of the woods. You, as a performer, want to work, and it can be very tempting to want to negotiate your services in order to secure a job. Your agent, likewise, wants to seal a deal in a competitive environment where many other agents are submitting talent for the same roles. Producers (i.e., your employers) are looking for the best performers for the job, but have budget considerations and are typically eyeing the bottom line with every move they make. The crux that is sometimes created by what I’ve described comes when a producer offers less than SAG minimum terms as they pertain to travel provisions, and whether directly expressed or implied, you or your representative accepts that offer.

Local hire is when you work in the market of your current residence. You are able to drive to the work location in the morning, return home in the evening, and are not in need of accommodations to rest at the end of the day. Conversely, if you are not “local,” you are considered on “overnight location.” By nature of your distance from the location, you are treated with travel provision coverage under the terms of SAG’s negotiated agreements, including but not limited to, airfare or mileage reimbursement, accommodations and per diem to cover any meals not provided on set. Your workday begins when you depart from the hotel and return to the hotel. This workday structure is what we refer to as “portal to portal.”

If you are working on an overnight location, there are only two exceptions that would allow for these terms to be reduced or waived. First, if a producer working on location in our region brings in overnight performers within a 500-mile radius, he or she may opt to take advantage of our 500-mile travel waiver. This waiver allows for waived travel pay (your compensation for travel time) for the incoming and outgoing travel days for daily performers working on television or theatrical projects. For example, if a production company from Los Angeles films in Dallas and hires a performer from Houston (or anywhere within 500 miles), the salary for the day of travel when no other work is performed that day may be waived. Aside from this, all other provisions of the contract (transportation, accommodations, portal to portal workday, per diem, etc.) are applicable, and you must be treated as an overnight location performer.

The second circumstance involves a producer working at the producer’s base of operations. Our TV/Theatrical Contract provides that when a producer is working at his or her home studio or base of operations and brings you to that home base, the producer is obligated to pay a $75 travel allowance up until the commencement of employment and must pay for your transportation (airfare or mileage reimbursement).  All other terms such as accommodations and per diem must be negotiated. For example, a producer’s base of operations is in Austin and he or she regularly produces in Austin. When a producer hires a performer from Dallas to work in Austin, the performer would receive $75 plus mileage (currently reimbursed at 30 cents). Any other provisions related to travel would have to be negotiated by the performer or the performer’s representative.

Waiving any of the travel provisions weakens the contract terms members fight so hard to gain in negotiations. Falsely claiming local hire and traveling at the end of a long workday is unsafe and could put you at risk. It is your responsibility to report misuse of the terms of the contracts in order to keep strong contracts for your future. Your SAG staff is available to answer any questions pertaining to the travel provisions or, if issues arise, do not hesitate to call Linda Dowell or Trish Avery at (214) 379-1171 or (800) 724-0767, option 7.

paperless billing


SAG announces a new addition to member services with paperless billing and online dues paying features. It’s easy to pay your dues today!

Why bother? Only active members are able to serve on the council or committees, register on iActor and vote for the SAG Awards. If you have any questions regarding your dues, please contact the Membership Department at (800) 724-0767, prompt 2.

For more information on paying dues online and our new paperless billing, click here.