December 2008

WigiliaIt is Christmas Eve – for me at least because I was raised in a Catholic family. From my father’s side came the Polish traditions – Wigilia, the poor man’s dinner consisted of a late night family meal where only fish could be consumed, accompanied by the beet soup called Borscht with mushroom perogies. We would sing traditional songs at the piano and attend a Midnight Mass.

Then the my mother’s Ecuadorian traditions took over. We would return from Mass to open presents until two or three in the morning. Often the most bearded member of the family would play the surrogate Santa Clause and everyone would take turns accepting gifts from him and take pictures and so on.

Our house was the central HQ for the holiday season and so all the uncles and aunts and their growing legions of offspring would descend upon it. We could numbers in the dozens and the piles of wrapping paper could become quite formidable.

These traditions often came with some bemoaning as we opined about the gluttony and greed and consumerism, but also they maintained something else that was very important – the spirit of togetherness in a time of year that becomes quite cold and quiet and dark. It was a reminder that we all came from somewhere and that the things we believe, our perception of the world has direct roots to our upbringing. They also provided some sense of constancy in such a volatile reality and thus afforded us an anchor in the storm.

Years ago I studied Kaballah under the tutelage of a mystic named Gahl Sasson. One year, when I couldn’t make it home for Christmas, Gahl talked about a pattern that existed among all the great religions and traditions at this time of year – that is – that they all celebrated the Light in one form or another. I never forgot this teaching and was never quite so jaded about the holidays again. I Googled Gahl and sure enough he had a recent blog entry recapitulating what he had taught us in that ashram years ago. Rather than paraphrase I include a quote from his blog at CosmicNavigator here:

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Recent stories from the Associated Press are relaying strong opposition from the very actors the guild represents to the proposed vote to strike as negotiations continue between the powerful American actors’ guild and the AMPTA that represents the producers.

The actors feel that the already bleak production landscape created by the ongoing struggle would be rendered disastrous for too many struggling performers should the strike be approved in these harsh economic times.

Some excerpts from the Associated Press articles:

More Than 130 A-List Actors Oppose Strike Vote

December 17, 2008 – LOS ANGELES — Delivering a rebuke to the leadership of the Screen Actors Guild, more than 130 actors signed a letter urging their colleagues to reject a strike-authorization vote in January.

“We don’t think that an authorization can be looked at as merely a bargaining tool,” said the letter, signed by “Desperate Housewives” actress Eva Longoria Parker, “Spider-Man” star Tobey Maguire, and others. “It must be looked at as what it is _ an agreement to strike if negotiations fail.”

“We do not believe in all good conscience that now is the time to be putting people out of work,” it said.

Other signatories included Tom Hanks, Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Cameron Diaz, Heather Graham and Edward Norton.

The letter, sent to guild board members and staff, is the latest sign of unhappiness with the leadership of the 120,000-strong union.

On Friday, the New York representatives on the guild’s board demanded a halt to the strike vote and called for an emergency meeting to replace the negotiating committee.

Guild President Alan Rosenberg planned an emergency meeting for Friday in Los Angeles, but rescinded it after New York members complained about the short notice to travel. A new meeting has not been scheduled.

The guild wants terms that are better than the deals accepted by directors, writers, stagehands and another actors union earlier in the year.

[read the whole article here]




Second article:

Film workers protest against strike at SAG meeting

From the Associated Press:

December 18, 2008 – LOS ANGELES – A dozen film industry workers protested outside a town hall meeting of the Screen Actors Guild on Wednesday night, pleading with actors not to authorize a strike that would bring the entertainment business to a halt.

The workers held up signs saying “Please No Strike Now – The Crew” in the rain outside the complex housing the Kodak Theatre, home of the Academy Awards.

[snip]

The group of protesters, location scouts, technicians and camera-equipment vendors, said work has dried up since the actors’ contract expired in June because studios have delayed making new movies for fear of a damaging walkout.

“Since the last contract expired in June, it’s basically killed the feature film business,” said Rob Frank, a 48-year-old location manager from Los Angeles. “People are losing their homes. I just think the timing is off for a strike.”

Since wrapping location shooting on Disney’s “Bedtime Stories” in August, Frank said he has been out of a job. “I’m usually going from movie to movie to movie with no break in between,” he said.

[snip]

But some of the 400 actors attending Wednesday night’s meeting remained determined to press their case with the major Hollywood studios.

Actor Ed Asner, 79, said a strike was necessary to achieve the guild’s goals and that the length of a possible walkout depends on the Hollywood studios. “It all depends on how greedy they are for product.”

[snip]

The strike vote must be approved by 75 percent of voting members to succeed. If it is approved, the SAG national board can call a strike. Votes will be counted on Jan. 23.

[read the whole article here]

[end articles] Found at NAB365

My own opinion is somewhere in the middle.  After so much time bargaining with the AMPTA, it would be even more harmful not to come to an agreement now because I would mean the matter will have to be reopened eventually and so the industry would remain somewhat paralyzed.  SAG has the momentum going now.  The AMPTA must acknowledge that the need to establish the groundwork for compensating actors for work broadcast online is now, not some time in the future.

On the other hand, a strike would prove devastating for 90% of the over a hundred thousand actors represented, not to mention all the other industry workers that include everything from the art departments and camera crews to the technicians, writers, directors and so on who would not be able to land jobs until the matter was resolved anyway.

Do you think the screen Actors Guild should wait for the economy to improve, or should SAG strike now?