Just when we thought the Screen Actors Guild was close to negotiating a new contract with the AMPTP, which represents the big movie studios, more drama disrupted the plans.
SAG ousted its director, Doug Allen, last week, replacing him with more moderate leadership, which seemed ready to negotiate a new agreement with the AMPTP. A two-day negotiating session was set between the two sides, meant to start today. But last night SAG's hard-line leaders intervened and threw off this progress.
SAG's national president, Alan Rosenberg and his VP Anne-Marie Johnson notified the guild they're seeking legal action and are planning a lawsuit to reinstate Allen. With this new issue to manage, SAG had to postpone its planned negotiations. This is the remarkable continuation of a brutal battle at SAG that has caused a cloud of labor conflict to hang over Hollywood for the last seven months since SAG's contract with the AMPTP expired. It's the moderates who want to negotiate a new contract and get back to business and the smaller group of hard-liners, led by Alan Rosenberg, who wanted the option of calling a strike to use as leverage in negotiations with the AMPTP.
What leverage does SAG have now? Its members have been working under the terms of its old contract, which means they aren't benefiting from the gains that its sister guilds have gotten. In this economy it's pretty clear SAG wouldn't be able to get its membership to authorize a strike. And movie production has slowed dramatically in the past seven months-- only a few big movies have been shot. Studios don't want to worry about having to shut down production mid-shooting, so they're opting to wait until all this is resolved.
What does Alan Rosenberg achieve by suing SAG to get his old colleague reinstated? What does SAG achieve by continuing to delay its negotiations with the AMPTP? Not much, as far as I can tell. The sooner the two sides sit down, the sooner this town can get back to business.
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