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 …


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Want to know what casting directors really think of actors?

Now playing on “Inside the Business of Acting,” on the Virtual Channel Network, is our four-part interview with the wonderful, Los Angeles-based casting director Michael Donovan. Whether you’re new to the business or looking for a fresh perspective on how the changing landscape has impacted the business of talent casting, what Michael has to say will help, comfort, inspire and empower you. It’s the best 50 minutes you’ll spend in support of your career.

I hope you take the time to watch this – and I hope you’ll share your comments about it with me afterward.

By the way, if you want to really know how to maximize the services of ActorsAccess.com in ways that can help you be both smart and pro-active in both the pursuit and support of your acting career, access our five-part interview with Breakdown Services founder and president Gary Marsh, also available on-demand in the episodes listing section of the “Inside the Business of Acting” Web TV series home page at VirtualChannelNetwork.com.

It's all free.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Another fine mess for SAG

I have been silent for the last month eagerly anticipating something positive to comment on regarding the internal (and public) bickering with the seemingly endless Screen Actors Guild to-authorize-a-strike or not-to-authorize-a-strike serial melodrama.

Is it just me, or have you had enough of this already?

I know it’s important; I know it’s about what actors deserve. But, I also know that now months into this struggle, it appears that the industry is no closer to a new SAG contract than it was when the issue for the union was focused on their members voting down the new AFTRA contract (which, as we know now, was also unsuccessful).

While it appears unlikely that the SAG leadership will get 75% of their actor members to vote “yes” on a strike authorization (should they still decide to seek it), the bigger picture, which is really the smaller picture, might matter most. That is, aside from seeking a strike authorization, SAG also needs to think about seeking unity from among its membership – and how to get everyone effected back on the same page.

It doesn’t much matter who’s in, who’s out or who’s on first as much as it will matter if the union is ever able regain the respect of all of their actor members they’re supposed to be representing fairly and equally.

Is it just me or is it time for some movement in a positive direction beginning with a fresh look at what makes sense for the people effected and the impact of this long stalemate on the perceived and real health of the business of acting?

The only good news of late is that SAG and AFTRA are actually casually dating again, sitting down together in search of a new commercial contract. Bravo to the SAG powers-that-be that realized the sense of both building this bridge and crossing it. It makes me wonder whether these same people at SAG now wish they did this a lot sooner.

Another fine mess, indeed.