EmptyDear Mr. Richmond,
Sorry for the informality. I know we don't actually know each other, though I have read your uninformed dribble in The Hollywood Reporter (Past Deadline, HR 5/12). I would like to take this moment to give you some perspective on the current SAG negotiations.
I am classified as "the middle-class actor." It is only recently that I have had to take a second job to support my acting career. That's not supposed to happen as your résumé grows. I'm working harder than ever and making less. I have lost my health insurance, and I can't afford to pay my bills. C-A-N-N-O-T. Period! Our current contract sucks, and the one the WGA and DGA accepted isn't much better for us.
Let's talk AFTRA.
My last AFTRA job, (Nickelodeon) show "Zoey 101," paid me $167 for an eight-hour day, about $21 an hour. I can make more working as an extra. … My guess is that my episode has aired more than 100 times, for which each showing the producers have been compensated by the advertisers and I haven't received another penny. I received a dues bill from AFTRA for $281.30. After taxes, paying my agent and manager, I lost $181.10.
I want to know in (AFTRA's) criticism of SAG and what it calls SAG's "one size fits all policy," whose size does AFTRA's crappy contract fit? They are screwing actors. There aren't any actors working under the AFTRA scale contracts who are happy. AFTRA is forcing SAG to accept lower offers from producers by undercutting scale rates; as the result, actors have lost their insurance and can't pay their bills.
AFTRA broke off joint negotiating, not SAG. Why? Because they want the opportunity to poach contracts and offer producers lower rates. They are supposed to be working for actors, not defending producers. I wonder who they're really working for.
As for your concern that Mr. Rosenberg and Mr. Allen are negotiating with their egos, I think you ought to sit down and talk with these boys. If there's one thing I can say about SAG, it is that we finally have leadership that genuinely cares about us actors who aren't famous yet.
I think this town needs to realize that it's not the unions that are the bullies anymore. It's the corporations, (and they) don't really care about making movies and TV shows, they only care about a bottom line! They are bullying actors out of the business. Why aren't you asking them to put their egos aside and make a deal? The unions need to stand together, and the town needs to understand that what is good for one is good for all. It seems that in the current environment, (a strike) is the only way to get a fair contract.
The Hollywood Reporter always seems to report on the side of producers and not actors. Is this because THR is another expense for my level of actor that I may not be able to afford for much longer? I have never read anything in THR that gives the perspective of the working-class actor. Maybe you can change that?
I love what I do, as I'm sure you love what you do, but it is getting more and more difficult to make a living at it. What you need to understand is that a strike isn't going to hurt the middle-class actor too much. We already can't afford to make a living acting. We all have second jobs and will make it through. For us, a strike could mean a future in acting!
Mickey Maxwell, proud SAG member