(Photos, Lea Thompson and Sally Kirkland rally while Carlos Granda of ABC News reports; SAG president Alan Rosenberg with actress and former SAG VP Anne Marie Johnson; Keith Carradine speaking at rally; SAG’s exec director Doug Allen; and board member Justine Bateman. All except Carradine photo by Jim Stevenson.)
LAPD unofficially estimated the SAG Solidarity Rally crowd at 550. SAG leaders Rosenberg and Doug Allen gave impassioned speeches explaining that they want to negotiate a fair deal for actors and a cohesive pay grid on New Media. Rosenberg began his remarks by reminding the rally that 75 years ago at the height of the depression the studios instituted a 50% pay cut for actors, and the actors responded by founding the Screen Actors Guild on June 30, 1933 — almost exactly 75 years ago. Also taking the podium was actor Keith Carradine. In the crowd could be seen former SAG prez Ed Asner, David Arquette, William Mapother, Joe Bologna, Renee Taylor, Justine Bateman, David Clennon, Scott Wilson, Lisa Ann Walter, Kate Flannery, Willie Garson, Joely Fisher, David Marciano, Erica Gimpel, Michael Dorn, Marg Helgenberger and more. WGA leaders Patrick Verrone and Dave Young also spoke and urged SAG to improve upon the writers’ terms and “move the ball down the field.” Other WGA members spotted were Joss Whedon, Dianne Burroughs, Joey Gutteriez, Alan Sereboff, Jill Kushner. As expected, the subject of the AFTRA-AMPTP deal came up. Hundreds of assembled SAG/AFTRA dual-card holders chanted “Vote no! Vote no!” when the subject of the current AFTRA contract proposal came up. One of their signs read, “Vote no on AFTRA’s ‘give away’ contract! Send them back to get a better one!” As one SAG board member attending told me. ”They understood that a ‘yes’ vote on that proposal would have us agreeing to sub-par conditions considering what SAG can potentially achieve for us. Really, I think you can better rates by standing out in front of Home Depot.”
Some members of the SAG negotiating committee from regional branches said they wouldn’t attend the rally in Los Angeles because they saw it as an action to “thwart” the ratification of the AFTRA contract vote. There has been a huge schism between SAG NY vs LA for months now. NY division president Sam Freed said in a statement: “This is one of a series of miscalculations by Membership First that jeopardizes our negotiations and the interests of the membership. There is absolutely no evidence that this effort to defeat the AFTRA contract will help us. It will only serve to create more uncertainty in a community that is desperate to get back to work. It is an irresponsible embarrassment.” Negotiating committee co-chair Mike Pniewski echoed: “We cannot support anything which jeopardizes our negotiations at this very sensitive time and that is just what this ill advised action does. There’s simply too much at stake to engage in such a divisive initiative.”
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