SAG board runs lines for ensemble meeting

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It didn't take long for the afterglow of the Golden Globes to burn off in the festering fog of the SAG contract strife.

The guild's national board is meeting today in Los Angeles as part of an emergency two-day face-to-face gathering. Ostensibly a forum to debate the guild's proposed strike-authorization vote, the meeting is likely to entail fireworks over any number of related issues: the possible disbanding of the negotiating committee, the fate of national executive director Doug Allen and the parameters of the new contract on the table.

The national board consists of 71 members, a slight majority of which skew toward a moderate stance on the contract and authorization vote. The private meeting's time and location were not disclosed.

As SAG's leadership attempts to convince local and regional members of the necessity of the strike authorization, e-mails and videos from rival factions have continued to pierce the relative quiet.

On Wednesday, SavetheBiz.org, described as "an informal but devoted coalition of film professionals," posted a short PSA featuring James Cromwell that advocates a resolution to the dispute without a strike authorization.

A day later, a provocative e-mail began making the blog rounds suggesting that SAG members could use their upcoming SAG Award ballots to punish nominated actors — including Alec Baldwin, Steve Carell and Sally Field — who have publicly advocated abandoning the strike-authorization vote. The missive, forwarded by SAG board member Frances Fisher, was roundly blasted by former SAG president Richard Masur as despicably reminiscent of the infamous Hollywood blacklist.

The more hardline MembershipFirst wing of the guild published its January issue of the Call Sheet on Thursday, turning it into a lengthy case for passing the authorization. And SAG has added several more video testimonials to its site advocating the vote.

On Friday, SAG members who don't support strike authorization began organizing via Facebook a rally for this morning outside the board meeting.

Ballots for a strike-authorization vote originally were scheduled to go out to members Jan. 2, but in mid-December the moderate faction of the guild persuaded Allen and guild president Alan Rosenberg to delay the vote until further concerns could be addressed at today's meeting. A second day of discussion is scheduled for Tuesday. (partialdiff)

Rosenberg and Allen spent the weekend in New York with representatives of AFTRA for a meeting of the Joint Wages & Working Conditions Commercial Contract Plenary Committee as a preliminary effort to draft a proposal for a new commercials contract.

The Hollywood Division Board meets Thursday. (partialdiff)
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