San Francisco 2011:02

The Official E-Newsletter of the San Francisco Branch
The Official E-Newsletter of the San Francisco Branch
February 2011

S.F. MEMBERS SERVING ON
SAG NATIONAL COMMITTEES

We are privileged to have so many of our Branch members serving on SAG national committees on behalf of the Regional Branch Division for 2010-2011. Congratulations to all who were elected or appointed to serve. Following is a list of the committees on which San Francisco is represented and those persons who are serving.

Agent Relations – Denny Delk, Alternate Committee Member

Background Actors – Michael Greggans, RBD Division Co-Chair; Julianne Booth and Lucrecia Russo, Alternate Committee Members

Commercial Performers – Tom Chantler, Committee Member; Cynthia Brian, Alternate Committee Member

Conservatory – Lucrecia Russo, Alternate Committee Member

Dancers – Ronnie Reddick, Vice-Chair

Guild Government Review – Ed Vasgersian, Alternate Committee Member

LGBT – Stephen Pawley, Alternate Committee Member

Low Budget – Stephen Pawley, Charlie Holliday and David Fine, Alternate Committee Members

New Technology – Bob Mascall, Committee Member

Performance Capture – Mike Martinez, Committee Member

Performers with Disabilities – Phillip Ramirez, Alternate Committee Member

Puppeteers – Ed Vasgersian, Co-Chair

Singers – Julianne Booth, Alternate Committee Member

Stunt and Safety – Rocky Capella, Committee Member

dr. t
FRECKLE ON A PYGMY

By George Moffatt

Michael Feinstein and I met in the mid-1980s when he first appeared at The Plush Room. We loved the same music and became good friends and would turn each other on to "new" songs and old recordings. I gave him Kay Thompson's MGM album and taped the Verve stereo LP of Conrad Salinger`s arrangements conducted by Buddy Bregman. I knew it would be perfect for background music before his performances. Michael loved that tape.

Having lunch at my place one day, we found that we both dug the movie The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T and he gave me a soundtrack cassette of the deleted songs and alternate takes that he got from Columbia Pictures. It was great to hear all the cut material. I've seen the movie many times and bought the DVD 10 years ago. I'd love to see the film restored. Michael says all the footage is in the vaults at Columbia. Someone should restore it. Hello, Martin Scorsese? Original screenplay by Dr. Seuss and Allan Scott, music by Frederick Hollander, lyrics by Dr. Seuss, choreography by Eugene Loring, produced by Stanley Kramer and directed by Roy Rowland, the movie stars Peter Lind Hayes and Mary Healy with Tommy Rettig and Hans Conried as Dr. Terwilliker. Over the years I kept hearing that the film was a flop. Then I heard that it was not a flop and doing great business until it was pulled from distribution for unknown reasons.

About 20 years ago, an unauthorized version of the LP of the 5,000 Fingers soundtrack was released. Recently, that same lousy LP bootleg was put on CD. Don`t buy it because it is incomplete and unauthorized. To enjoy the quality only available from a genuine product, I heartily recommend the three-CD set just released on FSM Golden Age Classics. This set has everything: underscoring, ballet music, composer sketches, pre-production material and vocals – even the song "Freckle On A Pygmy," which was not on Michael's cassette or the unauthorized version of the LP.

This Dr. Seuss live action nutty and brilliant fantasy, while it may have been a commercial flop in 1953, is now a cult classic. Composer Frederick Hollander was nominated for best scoring of a musical picture but lost to Alfred Newman for Call Me Madam. Other nominees in that category that year were The Band Wagon, Calamity Jane and Kiss Me Kate.

On the Oscar telecast that year, covers of soundtrack albums of each of the contenders were displayed. What a bummer to find that the cover of the Dr. T. soundtrack was a dummy cover. I checked all the record shops only to find that there was no soundtrack at all. So I waited 57 years. It was worth it.

TINSEL TIP FOR NEXT YEAR: I like Christmas music, but I can't listen to it for a month so I fill up the DVD changer with Crosby CDs and push “random.” Hearing Bing sing anything is festive enough. Sepia Records in England has released 9 CDs. Through The Years is a six-volume collection of singles from 1950 to 1954, with more to follow. If you want to ignore December 25, there's a double set with Bing and Al Jolson. Check out sepiarecords.com and sample some tunes. Great catalog.

HOTEL LABOR DISPUTE CONTINUES

Please DO NOT Patronize Boycotted Hotels

If you are invited to, or asked to appear at, a hotel that is under boycott by Unite Here Local 2, please think about declining the invitation. In addition, you may want to ask the sponsor of the event to move it to another venue – there are many in the Bay Area not on the boycott list.

In August of 2009 negotiations began for new contracts covering about 9,000 San Francisco hotel workers. Hotel companies, including Hilton, Starwood, and Hyatt were proposing rolling back affordable health coverage, retirement benefit levels and proposed increased workloads. On August 14, 2009, the prior contract, which had been in place since 2006, expired. For a complete dispute timeline, click here.

What do Unite Here workers want? Hotel workers want to move forward just as hotel management moves forward. Workers want affordable, high-quality health care; modest increases in wages; modest improvements in pension; the right for workers at non-union properties to choose whether to form a union, free of management coercion and interference; and improved workload conditions.

The following hotels are under boycott:

• Grand Hyatt
• Hilton San Francisco
• Hotel Frank
• Hotel Metropolis
• Hyatt Fisherman's Wharf
• Hyatt Regency Embarcadero
• Le Meridien
• Palace Hotel
• Westin St. Francis
• W Hotel

For more information on the hotels under boycott, click here.

MEDIA ACCESS OFFICE
HOLDS HEADSHOT CLINIC

By Douglas W. Gordy
MAO Program Director

Media Access Office of Northern California held a free headshot clinic for its members at the San Francisco AFTRA/SAG office on October 10. MAO is a program of the state’s Employment Development Department, whose mission is to actively promote the employment and accurate portrayal of persons with disabilities in all areas of the media and entertainment industry, ensuring that the industry recognizes people with disabilities as part of cultural diversity. Utilizing a generous $500 grant from the California Arts Council, administered through the National Arts and Disability Center, 15 MAO members with various disabilities had professional headshots taken by local photographer Nick Lostracco. As many people with disabilities have never had or can’t afford professional headshots, this has impeded their ability to audition competitively for roles in film, television and theatre. AFTRA/SAG Associate Executive Director Karen Lipney graciously gave up her Sunday to allow the MAO to use the AFTRA/SAG office for the headshot clinic.

YOUR UNIONS AND SOCIAL MEDIA

How often have you visited the SAG or AFTRA websites in the last month? How often have you visited Facebook or Twitter in just the last day? In this age of social media, the ratio of visits of union to Facebook/Twitter pages probably isn’t even close for many of you, not even for the most proud or engaged union members.

But fear not. You can still keep abreast of the news and events involving your unions utilizing both Facebook and Twitter. SAG and AFTRA maintain dedicated pages on Facebook and Twitter, where adding the unions as “friends” or “liking” their pages will allow information, including events, updates and discounts to be updated directly into the feed on your “wall.” Adding the unions’ Twitters onto your feed does the same for your Twitter page. The pages are informative sources of lively discussion, and are increasingly speaking to local and national issues. And that’s important. Because after all, aren’t the actions and advisories of your unions, which affect you directly, as important as what your cousin had for lunch?

Today and every day visit the AFTRA Facebook page here and the SAG Facebook page here. Find the SAG Twitter page at this link and the AFTRA Twitter page at this link.

Editor’s Note: For those of you who don’t eat, breathe and sleep new technology, or are perhaps just a bit technologically challenged, don’t go away shaking your heads. The important thing to remember is that your unions are reaching out to members in a variety of ways, and if one doesn’t suit your needs, another will.

UNION MEMBERSHIP PAYS
AT WORK AND AT HOME

The AFL-CIO created Union Privilege in 1986 to provide union members and their families with valuable consumer benefits. With Union Plus benefits, your union membership "pays" at work and at home.

By using the collective buying power of unions, Union Plus is able to offer valuable, discounted products and services exclusively to working families.

Visit unionplus.org and learn how you can take advantage of your union membership.

paperless billing
  

credit union

kathryn howell

Branch President’s Report

By Kathryn Howell
SAG San Francisco Branch President

It was a busy fall for your Guild.

A joint National Board meeting, the SAG fall plenary (including the presidents’ caucus of all 20 Branches in the Regional Branch Division), and successful negotiations of the TV/Theatrical contracts (conducted jointly with AFTRA’s Exhibit A), as well as Basic Cable Live Action and Basic Cable Animation contracts.

The fall joint membership meeting on October 18 was well attended, with a meet-and-greet hour preceding the meeting. There was an informative presentation about the Non-Broadcast/Industrial agreement, and a good discussion followed with helpful input from members as well as ideas for upcoming negotiations. Thank you all. Also, members present were asked to submit ideas and wish lists for guest speakers or panelists at future general membership meetings. I invite you to contact the union office with any suggestions; e-mail them to sf@aftra.com, subject line: “Membership Meetings.”

During one of my six – six! – trips to Los Angeles in a two-month period for SAG business,your SAG and AFTRA representatives had a good first meeting with the new executive director of the San Francisco Film Commission, Susannah Robbins. It was an opportunity to connect with her, express the importance of local filming to our members, and offer our support in her efforts to bring and keep work in Northern California.

I wish you all a very happy new year and hope to see you at upcoming meetings.

W&W Begins for Non-Broadcast
Industrial/Educational Contract

The SAG and AFTRA Non-Broadcast Industrial/Educational Recorded Material Contracts (Non-Broadcast Codes) expire on April 30, 2011. The San Francisco Wages and Working Conditions Committee is seeking input from the San Francisco membership in preparation for the SAG and AFTRA negotiations that will commence in the first part of April 2011.

Discussions regarding contract provisions and policies began in November. The formal (local and national) W&W process for these contracts is set to begin in February 2011. If you have any suggestions for the upcoming negotiations, please submit your comments in writing via U.S. mail to the attention of Business Representative Barbara J. Massey or via e-mail to bmassey@aftra.com, subject line: “Non-Broadcast W&W.”

SAG and AFTRA Members Ratify
New TV and Film Agreements

Members of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and Screen Actors Guild voted overwhelmingly to approve a new, three-year contract covering theatrical and television production under the Producer-Screen Actors Guild Basic Agreement and Television Agreement, Exhibit A to the AFTRA Network Television Code and the CW Supplement, which applies to both unions.

AFTRA, SAG and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers reached a tentative agreement in November on the deal that provides increases in base rates, contributions to the unions’ benefits plans, expanded employment opportunities and other improvements for working performers.

Overall, the memberships of SAG and AFTRA voted 93.52 percent to 6.48 percent in favor of the new agreement. Ballots were mailed to 137,437 members of AFTRA and SAG, of which 25.09 percent returned them. The final vote was certified by Integrity Voting Systems, an impartial election service based in Everett, Wash.

Screen Actors Guild President Ken Howard said, "The success of the referendum is a huge boon for members in terms of pension and healthcare contributions. We have the input of our members and the dedication of our SAG negotiating team to thank for the outcome.”

AFTRA President Roberta Reardon said, “This ratification is a win for union members and it is a critical victory for our health and retirement plans. I thank the working AFTRA and SAG members who served on the negotiating committee for leading us through to a strong agreement that the memberships of both unions have endorsed and approved.”

The new pact goes into effect on July 1, 2011, and will remain in force until June 30, 2014.

The unions began talks with the AMPTP on September 27. A joint AFTRA-SAG negotiating committee of 26 individuals – all of whom are members of both unions – participated daily in the talks. Leading the negotiations for the unions were Presidents Reardon and Howard, along with chief negotiators David White, the national executive director of SAG, and Kim Roberts Hedgpeth, the national executive director of AFTRA.

Members voted on the tentative agreement that had been reached with the AMPTP industry on November 7 and overwhelmingly recommended by the SAG-AFTRA Joint National Board in a meeting on December 4. Ballots were mailed on December 10 to all eligible members in good standing of both unions. Due to the holidays, the customary voting period was extended from three to five weeks.

The San Francisco union office held a joint SAG and AFTRA holiday mixer and Exhibit A and TV/Theatrical informational meeting on December 15, with presentations by Ray Rodriguez, Screen Actors Guild deputy national executive director for contracts and Joan Halpern-Weise, AFTRA national executive director, entertainment programming.

new exec
Maria Leticia Gomez (AFTRA San Francisco local president and co-chair of the Communications Committee), Susannah Greason Robbins (executive director of the San Francisco Film Office), Michael O’Brien (SAG council and co-chair of the Communications Committee)

Meet the New S.F. Film Commission Executive

Susannah Greason Robbins was kind enough to agree to an informal meeting with representatives of AFTRA and SAG the last week of October. For the unions, this was a chance to meet and speak with Robbins as she was transitioning to her new position and not yet weighted down with an impossibly harried schedule. At the time of this writing, we assume her schedule has taken on a life of its own.

Representing AFTRA and SAG were Leticia Gomez (AFTRA local board president), Michael O’Brien (co-chair of the joint Union Communications Committee), Karen Lipney (associate executive director) and Joel Reamer (business representative). Also invited was Curran Engel, from the Academy of Art University. Although we had prepared an agenda of sorts, mostly to guide the conversation, the main point of the gathering was to meet Robbins, to learn about her background, what she wanted to accomplish in her position, and to talk about our mutual goals – bringing more work to this area and making the process of shooting here user friendly. A significant start is the Hemingway & Gellhorn HBO project scheduled to shoot in early 2011.

The discussion was free-flowing and light while we bandied about ideas for everything from the permitting process, to bringing related groups together, to film office media kits that could include information heralding the professional performers that reside and/or work in Northern California. The serious note throughout the meeting was the mutual acknowledgment of the need to bring work to San Francisco and how to accomplish that.

Robbins was energetic, enthusiastic and serious in her desire to make a difference in her new role. She admitted that she had a lot to learn about her job, but her background in the industry bodes well for her success.

'The BookPALS are Here!'

By Carla Hatley
Program Coordinator – San Francisco

There is a good chance that on any day of the week a SAG BookPAL is reading to a group of children in the Bay Area. BookPALS love what they do. They have the privilege of sharing the words of wonderful authors of children’s books, performing in front of sold-out audiences, bringing stories to life with expressive reading, and awakening children’s imaginations.

When a BookPAL reads in a classroom, in the waiting room at Glenn Dyer Jail, at Fairyland on the Emerald Stage, or in a family shelter, the experience is always rewarding. BookPAL George McRae says of the experience: "Fairyland is the fun end of the BookPALS spectrum, and just as important as the other reading opportunities. The wacky versions of the (fractured) fairytales we do are really appreciated by the kids. You see it in their smiles and in their eagerness to participate.”

Our kindergarten through fifth grade classroom program continues to grow since its inception in 1997. Dan St. Paul, who has been a BookPAL from the very beginning, is celebrating 10 years with second-grade teacher Nancy Greenberg at Audubon Elementary in Foster City. He says, "No matter what my mood, I know when I finish reading to my second-graders, I'll feel better."

In San Francisco, Peter Carlstrom has been reading to five classes each Friday at Jefferson Elementary for the past 11 years. Teresa Roberts reads to two classes at Bessie Carmichael and three classes at Redding. Every week, these actors enjoy the happy sound of 20 voices yelling their names as they walk into the room:  “Dan’s here!”  “Peter’s here!” “Teresa’s here!”

Most recently, BookPALS added once-a-month readings at the Glenn E. Dyer Detention Facility in Oakland. This program is sponsored by the Alameda County Library’s Start with a Story Project. There can be a long wait for families visiting a relative. BookPALS’ goal is to bring a little joy to these children by sitting with them and reading and then helping them choose a book they can take home. Wanda McCaddon read Corduroy by Don Freeman in Spanish to one little girl. Wanda wasn’t sure her Spanish was good enough, but after she finished, the little girl wanted another book. Eleese Longino spent 15 minutes with a 9-year-old girl looking for just the right book. All of us who have read at Glenn Dyer know that when the kids leave with books in hand and wave goodbye, we’ve made a difference.

We never know how much of a difference we make as BookPALS, but it doesn’t matter, because for an hour or two we’ve given kids a precious gift – our time and attention.  As Teresa Roberts notes, “There is nothing more joyful than sharing with children. I’m still trying to decide who gets the most out of it, me or the kids.”

To become a BookPAL e-mail sanfrancisco@bookpals.net or call (415) 391-7510, ext. 501, and leave a message.

About BookPALS: The Screen Actors Guild Foundation is pleased to contribute to the advancement of literacy in communities across the country through BookPALS (Performing Artists for Literacy in Schools). This nationwide literacy program was first established in Los Angeles in 1993 by Barbara Bain. BookPALS currently claims 11 chapters throughout the country, with more than 2000 dedicated volunteers who serve more than 100,000 preschool through fifth-grade students weekly by reading aloud at public schools, hospitals, cultural institutions and shelters, as well as on the phone and online.

BookPALS is founded on a clear premise: children must be exposed to the magic of books to develop a love of reading. Who better to make that magic come alive than actors gifted in the art of storytelling? The research shows that one of the best predictors of children’s success in learning to read is being read to aloud,, and we hope you’ll support the SAG Foundation’s efforts for this valuable cause.

S.F. Conservatory Continues Its Good Work

Over the years, the SAG San Francisco Conservatory has been very active, sponsoring presentations and workshops on a variety of topics, including film acting, improvisation, voiceover, teleprompter use, self-marketing, iActor training, auditions, cold readings and work in independent films. Casting directors offer tips on auditions, and the “Donuts with the DGA” panel is an annual favorite.

Conservatory workshops run year round, although they are limited in August and December. The workshops are open to all members, and there is generally no cost to participate. We have dedicated and talented union members as well as members of the production community who willingly give of their time to share their expertise to benefit others. Members are notified of upcoming events via e-mail.

The Conservatory Committee, chaired by SAG Executive Council member Phil Ramirez, meets once a month, and the sole agenda is to continue to bring union members workshops that are meaningful. The members of the committee include Ann Fields, Duane Lawrence, Julie Ow, Lucrecia Russo, J. Russell Slack, Shirley Smallwood and Kevin Walton.

If you are interested in joining the Conservatory Committee, have an idea for a workshop, or can lead a workshop, please contact the union office at (415) 391-7510, or e-mail Jessica Bowker at jbowker@aftra.com.

It's Not Cool to Waive the Rules

Signatory employers are prohibited under the terms of the commercials agreements from asking, demanding, requiring, etc., performers to waive any term of the Commercials Contracts. Conversely, no individual performer can agree to waive the terms and conditions of the agreements. This applies to both principals and background actors.

Producers Do Ask for Waivers

At some recent television commercial shoots, members have been asked to sign waiver forms. Waivers have been called by various names, including: “Name and Likeness Release,” “Print Release,” “General Release,” “Consent and Release,” “Waiver,” or “Nondisclosure Agreement.” These forms are sometimes presented to the member as waivers that apply to print media only, or as non-disclosure agreements or confidentiality agreements, but the waivers almost always have provisions that say the actor releases the rights to his/her image for use in print, broadcast, or film in perpetuity.

Members presented with waivers at the time of reporting for the shoot or on the evening before often find it difficult to consult an agent or union representative with such short notice. If you are asked to sign a waiver, you have the right to refuse and should do so. 

Strategies to Stay Waiver-Free and Pressure-Free

Many members feel unduly pressured to sign waivers when asked by an employer. It is not always easy to “just say no” and decline to execute waivers when other members don’t seem to care or don’t feel comfortable speaking up.

Strategies for avoiding confrontation when asked to sign a waiver include:

1. Call your local union representative immediately. He or she can make a set visit without indicating why the visit is being made or on behalf of whom. The union representative will request the employer stop handing out the waiver forms and, if necessary, advise that such behavior could be considered to be an unfair labor practice under federal law.

2. If you are not able to speak with your union representative, call your agent (manager, attorney, etc.) and ask your agent to speak to the producer or contact your union representative.

3. Explain that you are unfamiliar with the form and refuse to sign. For example, you can say, “I know nothing about signing anything unless it is the standard employment contract. I need to run this by my agent” or “I can’t sign this now without asking my agent (manager, attorney, etc.), but will take it to my agent (manager, attorney, etc.) to review.”

4. Talk to members on the set and make sure that you are all aware of your rights under the union contracts and coordinate your refusals to sign.

Other Successful Strategies

Let us know if you have used these or other successful strategies and share the info with your brother and sister AFTRA and SAG members. And don’t forget, next time you see a union representative on the set, “waive” hello.

WELCOME NEW SAG
MEMBERS AND TRANSFERS


New Members: Liz Anderson, Amanda Boggs, Jarrett D. Battenberg, Bryson James Cooke, Ashley Everett, Josh Kelling, Ehren Diesel Koepf, Tommy McFadden, John McLeod, Lillie Morrisson, Veronica Sophia Rocha, Sandy Rouge, Brian Runser, Patrick Sieler, Laura Zimmerman

Transfers-In: Robert Adle, Gigi Benson-Smith, Suzanne Birrell, Shavi Blake, Tom Bresnahan, Senta Burke, Anthony Cistaro, Samuel Bliss Cooper, Cara Delizia, Michael Fachetti, Shilo Frontierro, Phillip D. Hirsch, Yvonne Hyatt, Leslie Intriago, Carla Leon, Andrew Mckaige, Cole Panther, Robyn Rice, Pam Rittelmeyer, Sharif Rosales-Webb, Jolene Rust, Christopher Symonds, Darlena Tejeiro, Joseph Vain, Carl Gabriel Yorke

BEST WISHES FOR A HAPPY
AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR!

From all of us at the San Francisco SAG/AFTRA office:

Screen Actors Guild

San Francisco Branch
350 Sansome Street, Suite 900
San Francisco CA 94104
Phone (415) 391-7510
Fax (415) 391-1108
E-mail: sf@aftra.com

National Officer: Tom Chantler

Local Officers: President Kathryn Howell, Vice President Denny Delk

Executive Council Members: Geoff Bolt, Matt Cates, Cabran Chamberlain, Robert Curé, Kathy Goodin, Charlie Holliday, Michael O’Brien, Phillip Ramirez, Ed Vasgersian