UPDATES Behind-The-Scenes Of Basic Cable Pact: Members Almost Lost Right To Vote
Los Angeles (August 26, 2009) – Screen Actors Guild announced today that members have approved a two-year successor contract to its Basic Cable Live Action agreement by a vote of 93.71% percent to 6.29% percent. The agreement is effective retroactive to June 10, 2009 and will expire concurrently with the Guild’s Theatrical Motion Picture and Television agreements on June 30, 2011.
With this vote, representing a 25.83% percent return, the Guild has now ratified its sixth contract this year. Integrity Voting Systems of Everett, WA, provided election services and tonight certified the final vote tally upon completion of the tabulation.
The terms of the agreement include a 3 percent wage increase retroactive to June 10, 2009, a .5% increase in pension contributions also retroactive to June 10, 2009 and a 3.5 percent wage increase on June 10, 2010.
Screen Actors Guild President Alan Rosenberg said, “The members have spoken and I am pleased that they had an opportunity to have their voices heard.”
“We are pleased to have this negotiation concluded so that our members can enjoy the enhanced benefits guaranteed under the new agreement,” said Screen Actors Guild Interim National Executive Director David White. “Cable is a burgeoning marketplace for our members and will continue to be an area of focused attention for SAG.”
SAG Chief Negotiator and Senior Advisor John McGuire said the new agreement “delivers
… Read More »
Dominick Dunne’s friends and fans emailed me Tuesday night that he’d been given last rites. Then he died Wednesday at his Manhattan apartment after a long bout with cancer that included several surgeries. On a professional level, with some well-publicized exceptions (he went over the line during the Condit feeding frenzy), he was a superb celebrity/crime storyteller for Vanity Fair and bestselling author about the monied classes, and, before that, a Hollywood director/producer. On a personal level, he was one of the kindest colleagues I’ve ever met. A friend who communicated with him during his last days emailed me, “When I was listening to him tell me how badly he felt, mid-last week, I interrupted to ask, ‘Well, are you too sick to hear some really great dish?’ There was a pause, and then Dominick said, ‘Well. You know how I am.’ I told him the dish and he laughed strong. Then said, ‘That’s the kind of news I like to hear!’” Vanity Fair has a lovely tribute to Dunne on its website.
UPDATES WME Cuts Off Fired Agents Who Found Jobs
EXCLUSIVE: This is a case of “Don’t get mad, get even” Hollywood-style. Last month I had the exclusive news that WME sent bad news letters to certain laid-off William Morris agents who found work at CAA, UTA, ICM and Paradigm. The point of the missives was to cut off these agents from receiving whole or part of their William Morris salaries because they’d signed contracts calling for mitigation. (This meant that if the tenpercenters had time left on their deals and could find work as agents elsewhere, then WME would be on the hook for paying them the salary difference between their new jobs and their old ones.) WME claimed those letters went out to “only” those agents playing fast and loose with the mitigation terms. (For instance, if an agent making $250K at Morris went to work at a rival agency for a new salary of $25K, WME had to pay $225K for the life of the Morris contract. That’s not how mitigation is supposed to work.) But rival agencies suspected that WME was using economic duress to cut deals only worth $.70 on the dollar with those agents lucky enough to find jobs in this tough market.
Understandably, the agents receiving these WME letters first began freaking out. Then four of them fought back. Their attorney, Century City pitbull litigator Bryan Freedman of Freedman and Taitelman, filed and immediate demand for arbitration. This time, it was … Read More »
2ND UPDATE: Here is the response from “Saving The Lives Of Our Own”:
Los Angeles—In reaction to a “pre-eviction” notice released by the Motion Picture Television Fund today, residents of the MPTF long-term care facility and their families rejected the letter as an example of continued strong-arm tactics by the Fund and its administrators. In an interview, the MPTF’s Ken Scherer insists the facility will be closed by the Thanksgiving holiday.
The letter was released to the media before being delivered to the residents and their families, in the presence of security guards, in a further attempt to intimidate and frighten the elderly out of the Home they were promised would be there for them until the end of their days.
Lynn Medford, whose husband Don, 91, is a director and long-time resident of the Home says, “They gave us a letter already stating what was stated before. It’s the easy way out for them in lieu of an eviction letter. Nothing’s new.”
“The more the MPTF tries to defend its indefensible position, the more public outrage is generated in support of the 80 frail, elderly residents who are being forced out of their homes. Dr. Tillman’s letter is a blatant attempt to circumvent and deprive the elderly, including my mother, of their rights. Families will not be fooled into ‘voluntarily’ relocating their loved ones,” insists Melody Sherwood, whose mother Kay Meyer, 93, is a resident of the facility.
“When they carry me out of my home in a
… Read More »
DHD’s September Elections coverage will continue today below this post, spotlighting the WGA candidates statements and endorsements. News will break above this post.
Paul Haggis is a WGA activist who also opines/writes frequently about Guild issues.
A Message from Paul Haggis
I hate long statements of support, so this ain’t gonna be one of those. I just truly believe that Elias and his team are our best option at this juncture. They were a big part of pulling us through what could have been a disastrous strike. Did we make all the gains we wanted? No. But they walked a razor’s edge and brought us back a pretty good deal, when some of the louder voices on the studio side were being completely intransigent and insisting on major rollbacks. Should we have weaved left at times instead of right, or vice versa? Of course. But I’ve walked the sidewalks a few times in my thirty years in the Guild, and I have seen too many negotiations botched by hot-head radicals or please-don’t-hurt-me capitulators. I was really impressed with how this group held us together and got us what we needed, if not what we wanted. Are the other folks who are running against them terrific people too? Absolutely, and many of them are friends, colleagues, and all people that I really respect. But my money is on Elias and his team. I ask you kindly to look at their record and consider giving them your support.
Jeff Melvoin is co-founder and chair of the WGA’s Showrunning Training Program.
JEFF MELVOIN Endorsement
The mounting complexities of our business demand a leader of discernment who can employ the tools of both confrontation and conciliation as needed to steer a steady course through the uncertain seas that face us. With full respect for the leadership that has brought us to this point in our history, I believe John Wells is that man. Few figures anywhere in Hollywood command the respect that John engenders on both sides of the street, creative and corporate. He has earned that respect though his talent, intelligence, diplomacy, and determination. I trust him completely with our future and urge his election as our next President.
John F. Bowman chaired the WGA 2007/2008 Negotiating Committee.
My Fellow WGAW Members,
As Chair of the 2007/08 Negotiating Committee, I’d like to point out some of the things which I believe gave us leverage and power in our last negotiation:
Unity with the WGA EAST
For the first time in decades, our two Guilds spoke with one strong and unified voice. We organized together, walked the sidewalks together, and stayed on the same page at the bargaining table. This time, there were no mixed signals for the companies to exploit.
Our Alliance with SAG
From 2005 until the contract was negotiated in 2008, the WGA leadership worked tirelessly to make alliances with SAG, DGA, the Teamsters, IATSE, and all our brother and sister unions. Due to historic differences between our unions not all those efforts bore fruit, but one key alliance did. Regardless of the direction SAG took after we settled, the unwavering public support from SAG leadership and members, many of whom picketed with us, others of whom were publicly willing to forego both the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards in order to stand with us in solidarity, was a tremendous boost.
Executive Director David Young
Hired in 2005-6, David hit the ground running with successful campaigns to prevent network webisodes and mobisodes from becoming mandatory non-WGA work. In the negotiations and meetings before and after the strike, David was incredibly prepared, always respectful across the bargaining table, honest, patient, flexible when necessary, and a
… Read More »
UPDATE: This just in… Here’s the rebuttal from opposing WGAW slate Elias Davis, Tom Schulman, and David N. Weiss, to Scott Frank’s support statement of John Wells, Howard Michael Gould, and Chris Keyser:
If Scott Frank had attended more than six board meetings (of the 22 held during his two year term) he would know how much he got wrong in his statement.
He would know that the “millions of dollars” he thinks were spent on organizing reality were actually only a few hundreds of thousands of dollars that resulted in WGA coverage for hundreds of writers working on Comedy Central shows, broadcast game shows, independent films, new media webisodes, and even a few reality shows like Dancing With the Stars, Intervention, and Extreme Makeover (all of whom make direct contributions to the pension and health plans about which he would worry even more if those projects weren’t under contract).
He would know that, despite a downturn in the Hollywood economy, the Guild’s residual department is now collecting more money than ever, with an uptick of $18 million in enforced collections over the past year, due largely to enhanced member-staff interaction. He would know that the PAC he derides (which has yet to endorse any candidates in any race in Kentucky) has made our union a player in political circles in Washington and Sacramento where our employers have enjoyed a free reign for too long when it comes to influencing communications law and
… Read More »
Phil Alden Robinson is on the WGAW Board Of Directors & co-founded Writers United.
I’d like to take a minute of your time to write about six excellent people I had the honor to serve with during the last four years.
Four years ago, we belonged to a 20th-century union trying to find its footing in a 21st-century industry. We were losing members, losing market share, losing jurisdiction, losing health care coverage, losing our fair share of the future.
So we tried something new. New ideas, new leadership.
It went by the name of Writers United, which was more than just a slogan. It was based on the idea that everything this Guild ever gained for us was gained through unity, forward thinking, member involvement, and intelligently-applied strength.
Writers United – led by Patric Verrone, Elias Davis, David Weiss, Tom Schulman, Howard Rodman, and Dan Wilcox – changed our course, stopped the downward trends of the ancien regime, and re-shaped this guild so that it is finally succeeding in this new era.Writers United gave us back our future.
And now we have another opportunity to choose between the future and the past. Because, like all elections, this is truly about the future.
A future in which the WGAW continues to grow stronger – as it unquestionably has in the last four years.
We need a future in which we continue to add coverage in new media, cable, and other media – as we have in the past
… Read More »
Robert King is on the WGAW’s Board of Directors and co-founded Writers United.
Dear Fellow WGA Member,
I’m one of the proud founding members of Writers United; I am a strong supporter of our Executive Director, David Young; I was a fervent proponent of the 2007-8 strike; and I’m urging you to vote for John Wells for President, Howard Gould for Vice-President, and Christopher Keyser for Secretary-Treasurer. To my mind, this is the only way—and I do mean the only way—we can build on the gains of the 2007-8 strike. I have three arguments that can be summed up as follows…
1. Let’s start with EST. My take on the 2007-8 negotiations is this: we won the strike and lost the contract.
We all made amazing sacrifices; we walked more miles than Lewis and Clark; we pulled together in a way the Guild never has before; and we did this for one shared and very important reason…
To make improvements in our contract.
And one of the key ways we did this was in EST—Electronic Sell-Through—or in laymen’s terms: itunes. When a show of ours is sold on itunes (or other services), the companies wanted us to accept the old hated DVD rate—a horribly low percentage—and we fought for something superior. And…
We doubled the DVD rate on itunes sales for all features going back to 1971 and all TV episodes going back to
… Read More »
…are coming within the hour on Deadline Hollywood Daily.
In the meantime, check out the opposing websites:
Elias Davis, Tom Schulman, David N. Weiss
John Wells, Howard Gould, Chris Keyser
SUNDAY AM: Now that official numbers are in, controversial Inglourious Basterds opened with $14.3M Friday, but then dropped -10% Saturday to $12.9M from 3,165 theaters. So, with a Sunday estimate of $10.3M, that’s a bigger than expected $37.6M first weekend for director Quentin Tarantino. (The most moolah anybody projected for Friday-Sunday had been $30M.) “The Weinsteins live to fight another day,” quipped one rival studio exec about the World War II film on which beleaguered The Weinstein Company had hung its financial future (along with next weekend’s reboot sequel, Halloween 2). But the producers aren’t out of the weeds, even though Basterds scored Tarantino his best North American opening since the $25.1 million earned by Kill Bill Vol 2. And eased Harvey Weinstein’s fears of another Grindhouse-like flop. Expected to dominate on both coasts, the “Hard R”-rated pic was predicted to play much softer in the middle of the country. Still, after all that buzz — a lot of it awful – at the Cannes Film Festival in May, it’s a miracle the movie didn’t tank. Especially since Tarantino changed up the film but didn’t cut its 2-hour, 32-minute, running time, which is now a minute longer. Universal has both foreign theatrical distribution, and international and domestic home video, while Weinstein is self-distributing in North America and also has pay TV. There’s a single-pot worldwide deal split 50/50.
But there was stiff competition for male moviegoers from the Peter Jackson indieprod District 9, a Sony pick-up, which … Read More »
UPDATE 4:30PM: Paramount Chief Brad Grey has now released a statement: “Our 2009 slate was greenlit in a very different economic climate and as a result we must remain flexible and willing to recalibrate and adapt to a changing environment. This is a situation facing every single studio as we all work through the financial pressures associated with the broader downturn. Like every business, we must make difficult choices to maximize our overall success and to best manage Paramount’s business in a way that serves Viacom and its shareholders, while providing the film with every possible chance to succeed both creatively and financially.
“Leonardo DiCaprio is among the most talented actors working today and Martin Scorsese is not just one of the world’s most significant filmmakers, but also a personal friend. Following a highly successful 2009, we have every confidence that Shutter Island is a great anchor to lead off our 2010 slate and the shift in date is the best decision for the film, the studio and ultimately Viacom.”
EXCLUSIVE 10:40AM: This Shutter Island decision is now the second major studio pic to jump from Fall 2009 to February 2010 (after Universal’s The Wolfman recently moved off November). But Paramount’s adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel directed by Marty Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio looked entrenched for October 2nd and this coming awards season. For godsakes, the pic is already on people’s Oscar list. Such a surprise delay is just going to compound all the buzz surrounding … Read More »
Awareness studies from Nielsen go to all the networks to help them determine how many potential viewers are aware of their new shows… And if the broadcasters need to adjust their marketing messages… Some of this is a slippery slope because, say, a network show is premiering late and the marketing has barely begun… Spinoffs and remakes (NCIS, Cleveland Show, Melrose Place, SNL) tend to have higher awareness than new originals… Dramas usually have higher awareness than sitcoms at this stage of the summer because they start production earlier and have more footage to show… So, with those warnings:
Best Awareness Among 18-49 Demo By Network
Flash Forward (strong intent-to-view sentiment among those aware of this show)
NCIS: Los Angeles (also strong intent to view)
The Good Wife
Worst: Three Rivers (doesn’t premiere until October)
The Cleveland Show (very strong intent to view)
SNL Weekend Update (good intent-to-view)
Vampire Diaries (strong intent to view)
Worst: The Beautiful Life
UPDATE: Universal is reporting that Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds opened #1 in Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Serbia, Slovenia, and Switzerland, while the opening day grosses in Germany, Greece, Hungary and Russia are the best ever for a QT film. Second-day grosses in France and Belgium (and French-Switzerland) were big, and the pic continues No. 1 in both countries. So overall, the pic grossed $4.1M yesterday, raising the international total to $8M.
Weekend Prediction: Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Inglourious Bastards’ $30M
‘Inglourious Basterds’ Overseas Highest Tarantino Openings Ever In 3 Markets
UPDATES WHAAAAAT? Tom Sherak New AMPAS Prez
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned the Board Of Governors for the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences wanted Tom Hanks to serve as president for the new term. And that he was nominated by Tom Sherak who thought Hanks could be a “Gregory Peck-type” AMPAS leader. But insiders tell me Hanks declined, saying he “didn’t feel he could put the time in”. So his name was withdrawn, and that’s when Sherak got the gig. At least it’s comforting to know that AMPAS’ and Sherak’s heads were in the right place by wanting an actor instead of two back-to-back studio shills.
Here’s more AMPAS news: Larry Marks and Bill Condon have told the Academy they’re not available to produce and direct the Academy Awards broadcast again because they’re both working. I understand the AMPAS board wanted them back. Now the panel has to come up with a new producer within 30 days. The Academy wants to build on the last telecast’s small ratings gains and find a motion picture veteran with broadcast experience. (Any suggestions?) And because singer-dancer Hugh Jackman worked out so well as host, AMPAS wants another multi-talented big name this time around, too. (No more TV comedians and that awful standup.) Even better, how about two big names, preferably a man and a woman, to host together? (Any suggestions?)
Finally, Hollywood will know as soon as the AMPAS executive committee votes on September 10th who’ll be honored at the 1st … Read More »
UPDATES WME May Lay Off 2 Big WMA Grossing Agents
FRIDAY AM: There may be 15 to 18 agents laid off in coming weeks at WME. The Morris China office is closing. Miami will be kept open but with a miniscule staff. Sports will be gutted if not shut down.
I hear that WME co-CEO Ari Emanuel flew to NYC to personally have that wrenching “you’re out” conversation with 30-year Morris veteran Jim Griffin who’s under contract until January. The agency has promised to find him a gig. “No one is enjoying the process, but you can’t be afraid of tough decisions in these economic times,” an insider tells me. This layoff was a big deal internally because Griffin is a former WMA board member with big clients like Regis Philbin and Emeril who made gobs of money over the years for the Morris agency and transformed Griffin into one of the highest grossing tenpercenters there. But WME showed him zero loyalty and figured that all the money that needs to be made off packages like Regis & Kelly is already coming in.
THURSDAY PM: Paul Bricault was the former William Morris board member, EVP, and head of Morris Worldwide Consulting, working over the years with MySpace, General Motors, Anheuser-Busch and others. Now Endeavor’s Mark Dowley will run the department.