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Actors Fund Connects Thousands Of Low-Income Pros With Obamacare

By | Friday July 25, 2014 @ 12:25pm PDT

Actors Fund Connects Thousands Of Low-Income Pros With ObamacareObamacare has been a blockbuster success in the entertainment industry, and the Actors Fund has played a vital role in helping thousands of low-income actors, writers and other industry professionals obtain low-cost health insurance. Earning enough to qualify for union health benefits always has been one of the most difficult challenges facing industry workers, but since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, obtaining health benefits has become a whole lot easier.

Related: New Rule Lets Actors Combine SAG & AFTRA Earnings To Qualify For Health Care

logoprep“In the performing arts unions, you only have about 20% of the members who are eligible for union benefits at any given time,” said Jim Brown, the Actors Fund’s national director of health services. “People move in and out of insurance coverage, and when they move out of that, we’re there to help them move into another insurance plan.”

Related: Split Decision: New SAG-AFTRA Pact Calls for Sharing of Pension And Health Contributions

CoveredCaliforniaSince open enrollment for Obamacare began October 1, the Actors Fund’s Covered California helpline has contacts by more than 15,000 industry professionals seeking assistance in signing up for government-subsidized health care. The Actors Fund has been working with Covered California to provide outreach and education to arts and entertainment professionals in Los Angeles, Alameda, San Francisco, Sacramento and San Diego counties. Since last summer, the fund has held more than 200 workshops attended my nearly 3,000 industry workers. Read More »

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18 Writers Vying For 8 WGA West Board Seats

By | Wednesday July 23, 2014 @ 2:25pm PDT

18 Writers Vying For 8 WGA West Board SeatsThe WGA West has issued its final list of 18 candidates, including five incumbents, who will be competing for eight seats on the its board of directors in the September election. Incumbents Chip Johannessen, Scott Alexander, Michael Oates Palmer, Katherine Fugate and Marjorie David will square off against challengers Shawn Ryan, Chris Derrick, Cynthia Riddle, Peter Lefcourt, Shernold Edwards, Peter Murrieta, Doug Atchison, Stan Chervin, Jonathan Fernandez, Courtney Ellinger, Mark Amato, Aaron Mendelsohn, and Aaron Fullerton. The guild will host its annual Candidates Night forum, where members can grill the candidates, on September 3 at the guild’s LA headquarters. Ballots will be counted September 16.

Related: WGA West Report: Film Writers’ Earnings Down For Fourth Straight Year

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Hey Tom Cruise, Johnny Carson, George Clooney, Frank Sinatra, Channing Tatum And Others: SAG Owes You Money But Can’t Find You

Hey Tom Cruise, Johnny Carson, George Clooney, Frank Sinatra, Channing Tatum And Others: SAG Owes You Money But Can’t Find YouEXCLUSIVE: The Screen Actors Guild exists to collect wages and benefits and disperse them to dues-paying members, but a Deadline investigation begs a multimillion-dollar question: Why are so many living and deceased thesps owed unclaimed residual checks worth $40 million, money that is drawing interest for the union’s general fund? The roll call of Who’s Owed is a Hollywood Who’s Who, including more than 75 Oscar-winning actors or their estates and dozens of Emmy winners who likely are unaware they are owed residuals. A union spokesperson tells Deadline the union is working to locate those members, but it is difficult because people change agents and don’t notify the union, or they move and mailed checks are returned by the post office and never cashed.

Still, could it really be that hard to find some of these performers? Deadline found that if you threw a rock on the red carpet of any major industry event, chances are you’d hit somebody SAG owes money to.

Jodie Foster Warren BeattyLike: reigning Best Actress Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, and Tom Cruise, George Clooney, Bradley Cooper, David O. Russell, and former Oscar host Steve Martin. Or Michael Douglas, Dustin Hoffman, Elizabeth Taylor, Jodie Foster, Warren Beatty, Jay Leno, Sally Field, Sean Connery, Christopher Plummer, Channing Tatum, James Franco, Jim Carrey, Sharon Stone, Owen Wilson, Justin Timberlake, Melissa McCarthy, Julianne Moore, Pierce Brosnan, Zac Efron and Andrew Garfield.

The music side of the ledger of Who’s Owed reads like a wing … Read More »

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WGA West Brass Use Fox-TW Drama To Drum Up PAC Money

By | Tuesday July 22, 2014 @ 7:42pm PDT

WGA West Brass Use Fox-TW Drama To Drum Up PAC MoneyWGA West President Chris Keyser sent a “private” email today to select members of the guild in a pitch for money to support the WGA political action committees’ lobbying efforts. Guild leaders, who oppose virtually all media mergers, used Fox’s proposed takeover of Time Warner as the drumbeat to scare up money to support its PAC’s ongoing political activities.

According to the guild’s latest filing with the Department of Labor, its political action committee spent $347,037 last year WGAwestblackandwhitelogoon “political activities and lobbying,” and it wants to raise even more this year. The PAC was formed in 2009, and the guild says that it is funded solely from voluntary contributions from its members. “WGAW assets will not be used to fund contributions to the WGAW PAC,” the guild told the Department of Labor. “WGAW PAC will solicit and raise voluntary contributions from the WGAW members, which will be used to support political activities on behalf of writers.” The guild’s PAC is administered by an 11-member committee that includes the guild’s elected officers and executive director. Day-to-day operations are delegated to a firm of election law attorneys.

Related: Time Warner Changes By-Laws To Help Block A Hostile Takeover

In the supposedly private email, Keyser and negotiating committee co-chairs Chip Johannessen and Billy Ray pointed to a New York Times headline about the proposed Fox takeover of TW (“$80B Offer From Rupert Murdoch Puts Time-Warner In Play”) saying, “If this headline scares you — and it should — then consider this a call to arms.” The email said the pitch letter was “paid for” by the guild’s political action committee. Read More »

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Split Decision: New SAG-AFTRA Pact Calls for Sharing of Pension And Health Contributions

By | Monday July 21, 2014 @ 6:45pm PDT

Split Decision: New SAG-AFTRA Pact Calls for Sharing of Pension And Health ContributionsEXCLUSIVE: While SAG-AFTRA officials have been touting all the benefits of the union’s proposed new film and TV contract, they’ve remained mum about one key issue: How will the 17% of actors’ earnings that employers pay into the union’s two separate pension and health plans be allocated? It’s a key question because the two plans – the SAG Pension and Health Plan and the AFTRA Health & Retirement Fund – have different eligibility requirements and offer different benefit packages.

Related: SAG-AFTRA Posts 10 Reasons To Vote Yes On New Contract; Do Members Agree?

Deadline has learned that SAG’s Pension and Health Plan will receive contributions from new one-hour network shows (mostly dramas), new half-hour basic cable shows (mostly sitcoms), and everything new made for syndication, other than shows made for the CW. Contributions on earnings from new TV shows made for new media, pay TV and home video also will go into the SAG plan.

Related: (Non) Shocker! SAG-AFTRA Board Approves New Contract

AFTRA’s Health and Retirement fund will receive contributions on earnings from new half-hour network shows (mostly sitcoms) and new one-hour basic cable shows (mostly dramas), all new longform TV shows (such as miniseries and telefilms), and everything made for CW. Read More »

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UPDATE: Judge Denies Seven Arts Founder’s Motion To Have Louisiana Tax Fraud Charges Dismissed

UPDATE: Judge Denies Seven Arts Founder’s Motion To Have Louisiana Tax Fraud Charges DismissedUPDATED, 1:47 PM: A federal judge has denied Seven Arts Entertainment founder Peter Hoffman’s motion to dismiss the fraud charges against him stemming from $1.13 million he obtained in Louisiana tax credits to refurbish a run-down old New Orleans mansion and turn it into a state-of-the-are postproduction facility. Hoffman declined comment until he’s had time to study the judge’s 27-page ruling. A trail is set for January 20.

peter-hoffman-seven-artsPREVIOUSLY, June 2: The founder of Seven Arts Entertainment claims that he did nothing wrong in obtaining tax credits to restore a rundown New Orleans mansion and convert it into a modern postproduction facility. Peter Hoffman has filed a motion to dismiss the criminal tax fraud charges (read it here) brought against him by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Louisiana in February. The 22-count indictment accuses Hoffman, a former business partner, and Hoffman’s ex-wife, producer Susan Hoffman, of conspiring to secure $1.13 million in Louisiana tax credits without having done the work they told state officials they were going to do. All three have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Related: Peter Hoffman Says He’s Being “Targeted” By Federal Prosecutors In Louisiana Film Tax Fraud Case

Read More »

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WGA Makes Last FCC Pitch On Latest Net Neutrality Rules

By | Wednesday July 16, 2014 @ 7:13pm PDT

WGA Makes Last FCC Pitch On Latest Net Neutrality RulesWarning that Internet video distribution could, like cable television, become “dominated by a few vertically-integrated conglomerates,” the WGA West made its last pitch to the FCC today for proposals to protect Internet neutrality. The FCC is expected to hand down its new policy on the issue within a few weeks, following the close today of a public-comment period on the latest proposal to regulate Internet transmission of video and other data.
In January, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. struck down parts of the FCC’s 2010 rules, leading to a new round of guidelines, including a controversial provision that would say Internet Service Providers “may not act in a commercially unreasonable manner to harm the Internet.”
Read More »

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SAG-AFTRA Posts 10 Reasons To Vote Yes On New Contract; Do Members Agree?

By | Wednesday July 16, 2014 @ 6:52pm PDT

SAG-AFTRA Posts 10 Reasons To Vote Yes On New Contract; Do Members Agree?Taking a cue from David Letterman, SAG-AFTRA has released a “Top Ten” list of reasons why its members should vote “yes” on the union’s just-negotiated film and TV contract. We’ve laid out the list here, with some heavy-handed editing for, ahem, excessive length, but all the words are theirs, not ours. What do you think about their list? Do you have your own list of reasons (yes or no) to back the contract?

Read More »

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Seth MacFarlane Sued Over Source Of ‘Ted’ Idea

Seth MacFarlane Sued Over Source Of ‘Ted’ IdeaThe creators of web series about a foul-mouthed teddy bear with a penchant for drinking, smoking and prostitutes has filed a copyright infringement suit against Seth MacFarlane, Universal Pictures and the producers of Ted, the 2012 film about a foul-mouthed teddy bear with a penchant for drinking, smoking and prostitutes. Bengal Mangle Productions claims that Ted “is an unlawful copy” of its own animated teddy, who was featured in two different web series, Charlie The Abusive Teddy and Acting School Academy. The suit (read it here), filed today in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, states that those web series aired in 2009 and 2010 on You Tube, FunnyOrDie.com and other streaming websites.

“Both Charlie and Ted reside in a substantially similar environment, including that both Charlie and Ted spend a significant amount of time sitting on a living room couch with a beer and/or cigarette in hand,” the suit claims. “Charlie and Ted each have a substantially similar persona, verbal tone, verbal delivery, dialogue, and attitude.” Read More »

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Art Directors Guild Draws Up Lifetime Achievement Award For Jim Bissell

Art Directors Guild Draws Up Lifetime Achievement Award For Jim BissellLegendary production designer Jim Bissell will receive the Art Directors Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which will be bestowed January 31 at the 19th annual awards ceremony at the Beverly Hilton. Bissell, the production designer for E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, is currently in pre-production on his second film in the Mission Impossible franchise, and was the production designer of four of the five films directed by George Clooney, including this year’s Monuments Men.

“Jim Bissell’s work as a production designer is legendary and we are proud to rank him among the best in the history of our profession,” said John Shaffner, guild’s council chairman. “He is an extraordinary artist and accomplished leader in the industry, and it is our pleasure to name him as this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.”
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(Non) Shocker! SAG-AFTRA Board Approves New Contract

(Non) Shocker! SAG-AFTRA Board Approves New ContractAs expected, the national board of SAG-AFTRA voted overwhelmingly tonight to approve the terms of a new three-year film and TV contract. It now will go to the union’s 165,000 members for final ratification. The new contract had been unanimously recommended to the board by the union’s negotiating committee, which included SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard and National Executive Director David White. The board tonight voted 90% to 10% to approve the new contract, which achieved the major goal of the union going into the talks: the unification of its two separate television contracts.

Related: Guild Official: Merging SAG And AFTRA TV Deals Key Goal Of Talks

When SAG and AFTRA merged in 2012, the new union was stuck with two separate pension and health plans, and two separate TV contracts. The unification of the TV contracts, which guild leaders called “historic,” is considered a major milestone in the still-evolving merger of the two unions.

Related:
WGA Members OK New Contract; Turnout Less Than 15%
DGA, Producers Reach Tentative Deal On Terms of New Contract

Read More »

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Original Media Writer-Producers Vote To Join WGA East

By | Friday July 11, 2014 @ 10:20am PDT

Original Media Writer-Producers Vote To Join WGA EastIn another victory for the WGA East’s ongoing campaign to organize reality TV shows, the writer-producers at Original Media have voted to be repped by the guild in collective bargaining. The vote, held under the auspices of the National Labor Relations board, was 42-9 to join. Original Media produces shows including Swamp People, Inkmaster and Stormchasers. “We look forward to sitting down with the company and negotiating a contract that will provide health benefits, paid time off, minimum compensation levels, and other basic union protections,” said Lowell Peterson, executive director of the WGA East, in announcing voting results today.

In the last five years, the guild has negotiated contracts with three New York-based reality TV companies in Sharp Entertainment, Lion TV and Optomen Productions. It trying to get two others – ITV and Peacock Productions – to sign its contract. During recent hearings before the New York City Council, the guild presented evidence of unsafe and “sweatshop” working conditions at the city’s largely nonunion reality TV industry.

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Pacific Ocean Post Closing Today; Up To 20 Jobs Lost

Pacific Ocean Post Closing Today; Up To 20 Jobs LostEXCLUSIVE: Pacific Ocean Post, the postproduction sound facility in Santa Monica, is closing its doors for good at the end of business today, throwing some 15-20 employees out of work. The company did post sound for blockbusters including The Avengers, Iron Man 3, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Despicable Me 2 along with Best Picture Oscar winner Argo.

Pacific Ocean PostPOP Sound’s closure is the latest chapter in the collapse of a once-vast empire of sound mixing and editorial facilities owned by Empire Investment Holdings. Empire-owned Soundelux, Hollywood’s largest independent post house, recently filed for bankruptcy, and its facilities in Hollywood, Burbank and Santa Monica have been closed, resulting in the loss of more than 100 jobs.

Related: Soundelux Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy; Pink Slips For 30

“Everything is being closed,” Soundelux bankruptcy attorney Leslie Cohen told Deadline. “It’s moving into equipment liquidation mode under Chapter 11.” And a POP sound mixer said: “I’ve never seen so many companies going down all at once. I absolutely loved working here, and to see it all going down is incredibly sad.” Read More »

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SAG-AFTRA, Producers Reach Tentative Agreement On New Film & TV Contract

SAG-AFTRA, Producers Reach Tentative Agreement On New Film & TV ContractEXCLUSIVE: It’s a happy Fourth of July in Hollywood. After nearly two months of talks and three last-minute 24-hour extensions, a tentative agreement has been reached on a new three-year SAG-AFTRA film and television contract. Terms were not announced.

Here is the sides’ verbose joint statement: “Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) today reached tentative agreement for motion picture production. Negotiations, which began on May 5th, resulted in a new 2014 Producers-SAG-AFTRA Codified Basic Agreement and an industry-wide 2014 SAG-AFTRA Television Agreement as the successor agreement to Screen Actors Guild Television Agreement, Exhibit A of the AFTRA National Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting, The CW Supplement, and the basic cable agreements. The terms of the new agreements will be presented to the SAG-AFTRA National Board of Directors at its July 12 meeting.”

Related: DeadlineNow Morning Report: ‘Midnight Rider’ Criminal Charges, July 4th Holiday Box Office, SAG-AFTRA Talks Extended Again (Video)

The deal still must be ratified by the guild’s members. It replaces the old contract, which had been set to expire on June 30 but was extended to allow bargaining to continue. The ratification process will take several weeks to complete, during which time the terms of the old contract will remain in effect.

Related:
WGA Members OK New Contract; Turnout Less Than 15%
DGA, Producers Reach Tentative Deal On Terms of New Contract

Read More »

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SAG-AFTRA Contract Talks Extended Again, Will Resume Thursday

SAG-AFTRA Contract Talks Extended Again, Will Resume ThursdayNegotiations for a new SAG-AFTRA film and TV contract have adjourned for the night and will resume Thursday in the hope that an elusive deal can still be reached. The current contract had been set to expire on June 30 but now has been extended three times to allow bargaining to continue.

The sides issued a joint statement: “Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) have jointly agreed to extend for a third day the current TV/Theatrical contracts, which are set to expire at midnight tonight. The extensions will expire at midnight on July 3, 2014. Negotiations will continue under the previously announced media blackout.”

Related: DeadlineNow Morning Report: ‘Tammy’ Kicks Off July 4th Holiday Box Office, ESPN Scores Again With World Cup Ratings, SAG-AFTRA Still Talking (Video)

While it was widely expected that SAG-AFTRA’s negotiations with the studios and networks would be more difficult and take longer than the other big Hollywood unions, few anticipated the talks would go past the expiration of the current contract. The DGA reached an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers after just a few weeks of talks late last year. And while the WGA’s negotiations took longer and were more tense, the writers also reached an agreement with the studios and networks after … Read More »

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SAG-AFTRA Film And TV Contract Talks Extended Again

SAG-AFTRA Film And TV Contract Talks Extended AgainFor the second day in a row, negotiations for a new SAG-AFTRA film and television contract have adjourned without an agreement and the old contract has been extended for another day. The talks for a new three-year actors contract, which began May 5, will resume Wednesday morning.

The sides issued a joint statement: “The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) have jointly agreed to extend for a second day the current TV/Theatrical contracts, which are set to expire at midnigh ttonight. The extensions  will expire at midnight on July 2, 2014.”

The parties had agreed late Monday to extend the talks for 24 hours in the … Read More »

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WGA West Report: Film Writers’ Earnings Down For Fourth Straight Year

By | Tuesday July 1, 2014 @ 1:01pm PDT

WGA West Report: Film Writers’ Earnings Down For Fourth Straight YearMore evidence of an ailing film economy is evidenced in the WGA West’s 2013 earnings report, which shows that employment and earnings for writers of motion pictures declined for the fourth year in a row. Film writers earned $331 million last year, a 7.2% drop from 2012 and down nearly 25% from $437 million in 2009.

The report also shows that only 1,595 writers reported motion picture earnings last year, down 1.9% from 2012. That number also has decreased every year since 2009, when 1,848 guild members found work in the film industry. Read More »

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Reality Producers Get Their Own Trade Group; NATPE Veteran Rick Feldman Named Executive Director

Reality Producers Get Their Own Trade Group; NATPE Veteran Rick Feldman Named Executive DirectorFormer NATPE President Rick Feldman has been named executive director of the newly created Nonfiction Producers Association, a nonprofit trade group representing companies that produce documentaries and reality TV shows. Feldman, who served as president of the National Association of Television Program Executives from 2003-12, also was the longtime president and general manager of KCOP-TV Los Angeles. In his new job, he will be the chief spokesman for producers of reality TV shows. Companies that have signed up for the NPA membership include Leftfield Pictures, Original Media, True Entertainment, , Magilla Entertainment, Atlas Media Corp, Big Fish Entertainment, Jane Street Entertainment and Loud TV.

RickFeldman“This organization includes men and women who run companies that, for the most part, have a high degree of employee loyalty and want to have a business where everybody succeeds at all levels,” Feldman told Deadline. “And we’re going to work hard to make sure that that happens.”

In a statement on its founding, the NPA said that it was “created as a professional body that can provide industry information, training and assistance to production companies, their staffs, and production employees, and promote ‘best practices’ that ensure production employees, independent contractors, vendors and other stakeholders have a voice and platform for meaningful discourse that can encourage and contribute to the continued success and welfare of all parties within the nonfiction television industry.”

WGA East Executive Director Lowell Peterson, who has been trying to unionize reality TV writer-producers, said the formation of the new trade group “shows that reality TV is consolidating, is profitable and wants to play in the big leagues. I look forward to sitting with Mr. Feldman and talking about working conditions and respect for the right of employees to bargain collectively.”

Read More »

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New Rule Lets Actors Combine SAG & AFTRA Earnings To Qualify For Health Care

By | Monday June 30, 2014 @ 2:04pm PDT

New Rule Lets Actors Combine SAG & AFTRA Earnings To Qualify For Health CareAs negotiators work to beat the midnight deadline for a new SAG-AFTRA film and TV contract, the union has taken the first major step toward merging its two separate health care plans. Effective tomorrow, actors for the first time can combine their earnings under SAG and AFTRA’s separate film and TV contracts in order to reach the minimum threshold of $15,100 to qualify for SAG Plan II health benefits. Until now, hundreds of actors who didn’t earn enough under either of the union’s separate TV contracts had to go without union health coverage.

Related: SAG-AFTRA Extras Squeezed Out Of Health & Pension Plans

Income from SAG and AFTRA’s separate contracts earned from April 1, 2013, through March 31 will be combined. Going forward, all earnings reported to both plans during each applicable 12-month base earnings period will be combined to allow for greater access to union health benefits. It is, at least in part, a fulfillment of the promise that one day the union’s two separate plans would be merged into one — which a SAG-AFTRA official said last month was a key goal of the merged union.

Related: SAG-AFTRA Takes “First Step” To Merge Health Plans

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