SAG Elects New Prez26 Sep, 2005 By: Holly J. Wagner
Change is in the wind at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), where leadership shifted Sept. 23 from former guild president Melissa Gilbert, who chose not to run for a third two-year term, to actor Alan Rosenberg, who won 40 percent of the vote in a three-way race.
Rosenberg, who played Eli Levinson on the 1980s legal drama series “L.A. Law,” won the election on a promise to take a harder line in negotiating for residuals from DVDs and other release windows. In particular he criticized the union's capitulation in earlier negotiations for DVD residuals. The union agreed to a contract months before deadline and with no gains for the actors in DVD.
Criticism from Rosenberg and his internal party, MembershipFirst, had focused on Gilbert and the guild's former national executive director, attorney Robert Pisano, whom the faction labeled as too eager to compromise with studios. Gilbert opted not to run for a third term. Pisano left his post six months ago and takes as the Motion Picture Association of America's president and CEO Oct. 1. He also remains a member of Netflix's board of directors, a role that rankled some SAG members in the past.
Rosenberg said he hopes to turn the tide for actors.
“I am honored that the members of this great union have placed their confidence in me,” he said. “I ran a campaign that offered a simple and straightforward promise: I will fight like hell to get actors their fair share. For working actors the stakes have never been higher. Our employers must understand that we will aggressively protect the interests of working performers — and we will not yield on residuals. The coming months are going to be particularly challenging as we negotiate new Basic Cable Agreements, prepare for the renegotiation of the Commercials Contract and continue to work towards a solution to the impasse with talent agents.”
Also elected was Rosenberg's running mate, actress Connie Stevens, as secretary-treasurer. Stevens won 68 percent of the vote to replace actor James Cromwell who, like Gilbert, chose not to run.