San Diego 2007:04

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San Diego 2007:04


Save the Date: San Diego Membership Meeting with New Member Orientation

When: 5:30 to 7 p.m. New Member Orientation (SAG eligible welcome)
7 to 9:30 p.m. Membership Meeting (7–7:30 p.m. meet and greet)
Thursday, May 31, 2007

Where: IBEW Headquarters
4545 Viewridge Avenue
San Diego, CA 92123
(One block west of the I-15 off of Balboa Ave. to the north)

New SAG members and SAG-eligible actors are welcome to attend the orientation. Come hear from staff and experienced actors about how to make the most of your membership in Screen Actors Guild.

Following the orientation, the San Diego SAG Branch will hold its annual membership meeting (for members only). This will include reports on the branch and the chance to enjoy each others’ company with a light barbeque during the meet and greet.

Casting directors Samuel Warren and Iris Hampton have accepted our invitation to attend as special guests. We will also discuss local plans and activities, as well as report on national developments.

Please join your fellow actors, the SAG San Diego Branch Council and staff for this informative evening of camaraderie and cheer.

Note: Only SAG members will be permitted to attend the membership meeting--except a parent may accompany a child member. In order to gain entrance to the meeting, you must present your current SAG membership card.

If you have any questions, please contact the San Diego Branch Executive Director, Hrair Messerlian at or call toll-free (800) SAG-0767 or direct at (323) 549-6440.


The vote to increase dues and initiation fees passed, giving a great degree of security to the Guild at a minimal amount of cost to the individual actor. This is only the second dues increase in 19 years.

Starting in May 2007, the bi-annual increase will be $16 a year for members earning less than $500,000 per year. The initiation fee for Hollywood and New York will rise from $1474 to $2211. Most of the branch offices continue to have a lower initiation fee.

There was much discussion and deliberation that the initiation fee for San Diego have the same increase as Hollywood. The reasoning was not unjustified if taken on the geographical differences of the two cities, but we are Divisions apart--literally! Distance between the two cities is measured in time and money, not miles. San Diego is not the little border town of 20 years ago, standing in the shadow of Hollywood. We represent a large casting and filming industry that sends jobs and money into the Guild's coffers.

San Diego is a part of the Regional Branch Division because, for the most part, our members are background and under-five workers. We are the atmosphere behind the stars and guest stars that are cast in Hollywood. Together, we make a total film of professional actors.

The fears that face Hollywood are that prospective Guild members could join SAG in San Diego at a substantial savings, and that SAG San Diego members may then go to Hollywood to work, taking jobs away from higher-paying members.

SAG President Alan Rosenberg and National Executive Director Doug Allen are working hard to give the branches considerations based on their unique circumstances. A fair solution has been agreed upon:

  • *The initiation fee will be determined by an annual analysis of the total number of active San Diego members and earnings compared to Hollywood (measured in percentages)
  • *Based on these percentages, the branch falls within a certain tier that then determines the initiation fee for the branch
  • *Members working in a market with a higher initiation fee will be assessed a difference of the initiation fee if it is greater than the initiation fee the member previously paid

If there are any eligible non-union performers that feel they are professionally qualified and competition-ready, now is the time to join SAG.

My job is to bring you news on the national level, however, I want to take time here to give justified accolades to your SAG San Diego Branch Council members.

Our committees have become active in ways that allow us to meet and network with the same confidence we had when we had our office here. President Tom Norwood has taken on his job with enthusiasm, and it is easy to see the pride he gives to the San Diego members he represents. Chris Bricker, also a member of the Hospitality and Tourism Union (UNITE HERE), has been responsible for various outstanding venues, some at no cost. Selena Parker has given the SAG San Diego Branch Women's Committee a whole new meaning. On behalf of her committee of one, she made arrangements for our annual December membership meeting to be served in style with the most delicious food since we were separated from our AFTRA brothers and sisters.

San Diego was one of only a few cities outside of Los Angeles to hold separate celebration affairs to honor the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Selena was instrumental in arranging the location, complete with hors d'oeuvres.

No one on the council works harder or accomplishes more than Lorenzo Rodriguez and his SAG San Diego Branch Conservatory Committee. Marty Alvillar drives from his home in Palm Desert or Burbank or anywhere he may be working to help on every Conservatory workshop. His dedication is matched by Tom Worth and Ruth Stehle. Due to Ruth's work and responsibilities outside the council, she has had to step down from her position. We shall miss her, her little dog and her beautiful singing voice.

Don Ahles, our new vice president, had to act as national representative on my behalf at the February meeting. He is a smiling, smart, competent participant on the board. Thank you, Don. You made us proud.

Linda Lutz and Gene Anselmo have faced the recent challenge of loss of family and health, but they have never missed a meeting nor had to ask someone take over their jobs. Linda and Gene are inspirations to us all.

And then there is our leader, the Screen Actors Guild Executive Director of Nevada and San Diego Branches (a long title for a big job). If it were not for Hrair Messerlian's expertise, and especially the care that he gives us, we would not be able to carry out the needs of our San Diego members.

Your council are working members that keep us together as a team and a union. I am so very proud to be in their company.

Respectfully submitted,

Virginia Hawkins


When iActor rolls out to casting directors and industry professionals later this year, will you be there? Don’t wait. Register and load your résumé, headshots and clips on iActor.

By displaying your résumé, headshots and clips on iActor, you put yourself at the fingertips of major casting directors. It’s the online directory casting directors want, but don’t take our word for it, read what casting directors are saying:

“More casting directors are utilizing electronic casting options. Advanced technology enables us to work faster and more efficiently, and with a laptop we can take our work with us. How terrific to have access to the SAG Web site anywhere, any time.”--Nancy Foy, Vice President Feature Casting, 20th Century Fox.

“Every member should be in there. It’s such a great opportunity for SAG members to generate more work and have casting directors tap into them when they wouldn’t have had access otherwise.“--Elsie Stark, Casting Director, New York.

iActor is Easy
To get started on your own, simply sign in to the SAG Web site at and click on the iActor button to access iActor. If you need additional assistance, just call the help desk at (800) 724-0767 or email


First of all, it was wonderful to see so many of you at our SAG San Diego membership meeting this past December. A time for friends, food and fun, all leading to a great meeting. I would like to thank our guests Cathy Anderson of the San Diego Film Commission, Vivian Chang of Background San Diego and Tina Real of Tina Real Casting for their insight and contributions to our industry.

To those of you that attended our SAG Awards Viewing Party, I am sure you’ll agree it was a great success! I hope members that received screening copies of nominated films enjoyed an opportunity to screen them privately at home, as most theater screenings are located in the Los Angeles or New York areas. We will continue to work on receiving copies in the future for your consideration.

I have pleasant news to report on the SAG National Board of Directors Plenary I attended in Hollywood on February 9 and 10. Both our National President Alan Rosenburg and our National Executive Director Doug Allen are especially concerned about protecting our middle class of actors and are well aware of the struggles of working actors today. Mr. Allen emphasized unity, leadership, leverage and resources--all very encouraging as we look to the future of our union.

I am pleased to announce the passage of a revised initiation fee structure to our members. The new initiation fee is $2211, a significant amount above the previous rate of $1474. My interest at a local level was the incentive for new members to join at three times the day rate, when we already have seen a reduction at two times the day rate. I am elated to bring news of a revised lower fee of $1216 for San Diego actors intending to join SAG. For non-union actors, both background and principals eligible to join--now is the time!

Another resource available to members is the launch of iActor, the new online casting directory, which is a great tool offered through our SAG Web site. You can enter résumés, headshots, credits, skills, and audio and video clips, all as a free service to our members. I encourage everyone to sign up today at

Once again, I am looking forward to big gains this year and thank you for the opportunity to serve you.

Don Ahles, SAG San Diego Branch Vice President


By Selena Parker, San Diego SAG Women’s Committee Chair

San Diego SAG Awards Celebration
The San Diego branch hosted more than 100 guests (see photo to right by Edward Cook) at its first SAG Awards Viewing Party at Postcards in the Handlery Hotel. Selena Parker (chair of the San Diego SAG Women’s Committee) hosted the event, which was free for members of SAG, AFTRA, and the fashion and entertainment community. The Handlery Hotel supplied delicious hors d’oeuvres and Judy Ames coordinated the talented singers who entertained throughout the evening.

The festivities included a contest for “best-dressed,” with prizes donated by the SAG Awards Show Committee as well as dinners donated by Souplantation. Prizes were also given to guests who correctly guessed the winners in the various categories. In addition, a free class was donated by Lorenzo Rodriguez on behalf of the SAG San Diego Branch Conservatory.

Academy Awards
San Diego and Hollywood came together on Oscar night when Selena Parker of "Selena’s TV Showcase" hosted a successful Oscar Viewing Party at the Holiday Inn on the Walk of Fame. The event was listed in the Back Page weekly planner of Back Stage West which helped give the event a bit of buzz.

San Diego Latino Film Festival
The 14th annual San Diego Latino Film festival took place at the Ultrastar Mission Valley Cinemas in Hazard Center. The festival founder and director Ethan van Thillo was proud to announce the festival as the longest-running Latino festival in Southern California. Tortilla Heaven featuring George Lopez was the opening night film.

Peter Falk (Columbo) was in San Diego recently promoting his book and talking about his career.

Fond farewell to the legendary Frankie Laine, the actor, singer and entertainer extraordinaire who lived in San Diego in his later years.

Email Selena Parker at


By Hrair Messerlian

Hope everyone has been keeping busy. Thanks for maintaining your discipline and professionalism. Our members have been doing a commendable job in representing the professional actor. While you’ve been busy working, the Guild has been active in bringing you more work opportunities. One such example is the launch of iActor.

iActor is a free online service for paid-up members of SAG only. It identifies you as a SAG professional to the casting and production communities, not only in San Diego but in Hollywood and all major production centers. It highlights your talents, skills, look and geographical location. It is absolutely vital for all San Diego SAG members to take the time to load their information onto the SAG Web site (see the previous article in this e-Newsletter for instructions). We currently only have 48 San Diego members who have taken advantage of this tremendous marketing resource. Don’t be left out!

The San Diego SAG Conservatory has also been very active in helping performers hone their skills. This year's season has included “Acting For Kids,”“Cold Readings,” “Musical Improvisation,” an industry panel called “Casting Director, Photographer, Established Actor,” “Tax Preparation for Actors” and “How To Be a TV Host.”

Are you a new member or know someone who wants to join? We will be holding a New Member Orientation prior to our May 31 membership meeting from 5:30-7 p.m. It is open to new members and SAG-eligibles actors, and you are encouraged to attend and get the answers you need. I will be there, and experienced actors from our SAG San Diego Branch Council will be making the presentation.

Speaking of new members, we’d like to take a moment to welcome the following new members to the SAG San Diego Branch this year: Michael Andrews, Mike Gaarde, Roma Watkins, Mike Barber, Jeff Minkin, Andrea Brook, Alicia Klein, Owiso Odera, Melissa Maki, Travis Seaborn Weaver, Timothy Daniels, Marti Berg, Mary Ann Tacho, Kat Seelos, Billy R. Taylor, Gilbert Omens, Robert Fulbright, Alec Musser, Kat Seelos, Eric Michael East, Matt Biedel, Michael Thomas, Dustin Nelson, Alana Ethrige, Marbernisa McGlory, Kyla Thomas, Daniel Polo, Karen Michelle Berg, Kaine Bennett Charleston, Joost Janssen, Adeline McKinley, Chris Evan, Eric C. Cobb, Ariana Taylor McClure, Adam Hutson and Patrick De Boer. Please let us know if we missed anyone.


Have a question about contracts, talent agents or your dues status? Need to file a claim? The San Diego Branch office is ready to assist.

Contact the office by:
Telephone: (800) SAG-0767, extension 6440 or (323) 549-6440
Fax: (800) 549-6500
Mail: 5757 Wilshire Blvd., 7th floor, Los Angeles, CA 90036


SAG General Information: (800) 724-0767
SAG Pension & Health: (800) 777-4013
SAG/AFTRA Federal Credit Union: (800) 826-6946
SAG Foundation: (323) 549-6649
Membership Perks: (310) 779-2812
San Diego Film Commission (619) 234-FILM
The San Diego SAG Production Hotline (619) 744-8900
The Hollywood Infocast Hotline (323) 937-3441
San Diego SAG Conservatory, Lorenzo Rodriguez