Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"Yes, I Can. Yes, I Can!" Uphill movement in the right direction today at SAG.

So now that Doug Allen has stepped down as executive director of the Screen Actors Guild and head negotiator in the union’s attempt to seek and settle on a new contract, what happens next and what does this mean to the business of acting for both union and non-union actors?

In short, I’m encouraged.

The greatest fallout from what has been the SAG dilemma can be measured in terms of both negative public and internal relations. The infighting at SAG has not played out well in the public arena. Instead of garnering support for the predicament it finds itself in (as the Writers Guild did during the strike), SAG leadership, in fact the entire union, has come off in the public eye as rather unlikable. Then there is the infighting pitting one celebrity name against another in a war of rhetoric and best acting. Next year’s SAG Awards ought to have a category for Biggest Idiot in the War of Words.

Of course all of this has absolutely nothing to do with a new contract that must be secured as soon as possible. As in all campaigns, there comes a time when aiming for a sound bite on the evening news has to end and the real work begin. Even President Obama had a dinner honoring John McCain shortly before the inauguration ceremonies.

My advice: It’s time to start fresh and with a clean slate – and under the new team in place at SAG, under the leadership of David White as interim director, the union and its board have a good starting point and an opportunity to actually get some work done that will benefit both their current and future members.

I’m happy to help SAG spin this in the right direction, when the time comes – and that will be soon. That’s if I’m asked. You see, those of us who represent talent also feel the impact of the stalemate. SAG needs to reassure the industry as a whole that it’s getting it’s act together – and taking it on the road – that is on the road to reasonable discussions, reasonable expectations and a reasonable, new contract that its membership will embrace and the rest of us can support in the journey of getting back to both the fundamentals and to work.

Then there is the curious case of Alan Rosenberg. He’s in a tough spot, personally and professionally. After all, when all is said and done and his term as SAG president has expired, I assume he intends to return to the ranks of “working actor.” If that’s the case, then, indeed, he has some PR strategy to work on, as well.

Full steam ahead …


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