Category: mediation

Because the vast majority of my audience is likely not a member of the Screen Actors Guild, I am going to repost a letter from twice-elected Nation President of the guild Allen Rosenberg expressing his outright disdain for the events of the past week that have led to the National Executive Director Doug Allen being fired yesterday.

Doug Allen held his ground amidst much panic induced by certain forces (let’s say A-List actors who also tend to be producers who also tend to be in bed with producers) and those without sufficient foresight or backbone to believe that we can withstand the temporary uncertainty of a strike in exchange for a fair pay scale in the realm of online and emergent media.

Here is the letter from Allen in its entirety:
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In late 2008 I wrote an article about some of Hollywood’s most powerful and influential A-List actors opposing their own guild’s vote to strike in its ongoing negotiation with the AMPTA (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers).

Now I present the other side of the argument by way of several videos featuring well-known actors including Elliot Gould, Rob Schneider and Martin Sheen strongly arguing for a YES from fellow guild members on the vote to strike.

Rob Schneider revealing how FOX TV plans to broadcast reruns exclusively online and not on TV airwaves (but without paying actors their current royalty/residuals rate, but instead only 3% of that for online play)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T26kxvjkPE8

Elliot Gould makes an emphatic appeal and argument in favor of SAG moving to strike as he explains the media wash employed by the AMPTA to control the perception of the actor’s fight for a fair deal.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ktHm39rdp0

And Diane Ladd:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weJUW8Rt5kc

And Martin Sheen:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dv2sT9KrLXg

And me, Keram, who has been a professional actor for almost 30 years and who has given seminars and been invited to speak at conferences about the arts and new media can strongly state that SAG has my full support in moving to strike if it should require it.  The AMPTA claims that it needs time to understand and assess its online broadcast strategies and will be willing to renegotiate in three years.

That’s what they said about DVDs and it never happened.

Presently, the broadcasters are already streaming their programs, even the newest episodes in high-resolution, full screen, online and forcing the viewer to watch 15 second ads at regular commercial breaks, and yet they do not feel that actors should receive the same royalties (or in some cases, any at all) for these presentations.

SAG represents some 150,000 actors nationwide of which roughly 2% earn the majority of the money.  When one considers that the top 1% is earning twenty million dollars per picture, then it clarifies that the remaining percentile are not necessarily slouches, but they are mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters and people who contribute to society and work many other jobs.  The idea that actors live some sort of fantasy life or that they would want to strike out of greed is a gross misrepresentation of the reality.

The concern that many actors presently share about the downturn in the economy and California’s massive financial crisis making it a bad time to strike must remember that the renegotiation of this contract has been known for several years and the possibility of a strike has already slowed work for as long.  My feeling is – we are here, lets get it over with: thinking that delaying this for another three years will suddenly create confidence in the production landscape seems absurd – the only thing we will lose is the momentum and bargaining position.  As cinematographer Steve Gainer said on my podcast (and I am paraphrasing here) – do what we have to do, but let’s just get it sorted out so we can all move forward.  I agree – once a fair deal is struck we can just go back to making movies, television and online content and not suffer from the concern of mounting a production that could fall apart as the result of a looming strike.

So if you read this and are an actor or have dialogues with people who have the ability to vote on this, consider both positions but recognize that the time to get this deal done is now and the the guild needs the support of its members.