SAG Terminates Chief Negotiator27 Jan, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Following weeks of internal bickering, the Screen Actors Guild has ousted its chief contract negotiator in the currently stalled contract negotiations with studios and producers.
Citing a leadership crisis, SAG let go Doug Allen and appointed a new negotiating team headed by senior advisor John McGuire. Former general counsel David White will act as interim executive director beginning Jan. 27.
SAG President Alan Rosenberg, a staunch supporter of Allen, retained his position.
It is hoped McGuire will jumpstart negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the union representing studios and television producers. Actors have been working under an interim contract after the previous agreement expired last June.
Rosenberg and Allen, dissatisfied with the studios final offer, had actively been lobbying support within SAG’s membership for the first actor work stoppage in Hollywood in 20 years.
Among Rosenberg’s complaints with the studios’ offer was the non-revisiting of the DVD residual agreement. He believed SAG was being railroaded into a similar lowball offer with new media, including downloads and streaming.
Citing the declining economy, however, a growing number of board members and high-profile actors had banded together in opposition to a proposed strike. In recent weeks they began urging for a change of direction in the negotiations, including accepting the studios’ offer that mirrored recent labor agreements with unions representing directors, writers, daytime TV actors and stage workers.
“I feel confident that with this move we can get a livable deal soon and start repairing the damage that has been done,” actor Matt Damon told the Los Angeles Times.
White said in a statement: “This is a difficult time for Screen Actors Guild and a particularly challenging period for working actors. I am deeply committed to the guild and its members and I believe that, working with the national board, we can help guide this transition.”