SAG brass cheered as members coalesce

Leadership urged to be tougher in negotiations

SAG made a major push at solidarity with more than 400 of its rank-and-file members at a town hall-style meeting to discuss the recent formal negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers.

The meeting late Monday in Beverly Hills came after SAG and the AMPTP broke off talks May 6 after 18 days of negotiations. The AMPTP is currently bargaining with AFTRA on the performers union's primetime contract.

At Monday's meeting, SAG president Alan Rosenberg and national executive director and chief negotiator Doug Allen were given standing ovations by the crowd, who urged the leaders to be tougher with the producers, according to one member who attended the meeting.

"The reception was great," the actor said. "Generally, it is divided into political factions with the people who get up to the microphones, with one side who wants to take a stronger stance and another side who wants to take a compliant stance, and that wasn't the case."

The duo gave about a 90-minute presentation to members packed into the WGA Theater, before opening up the floor to questions. Many expressed their displeasure with AFTRA, the insider said, though Rosenberg cautioned them to not focus on AFTRA bashing but rather the negotiations, which might resume May 28.

SAG also handed out a four-page update to members, which it posted Tuesday on its Web site, outlining the "remaining obstacles" in the negotiations, including new media, force majeure provisions in their contract and product integration.

On the new-media front, three key issues remain: the AMPTP's proposal to sell TV and film clips online and have actors give just blanket consent for the use, rather than the individual use they have had for decades; jurisdiction over new media and the AMPTP's proposal to produce nonunion new-media programs below certain per-minute thresholds; and DVDs.

In the latter, SAG indicated that it modified its DVD proposal, asking that pension and health contributions be paid on top of their shared 1% of distributor's gross.

"They still said no," the update stated.

Product integration also is a roadblock in the talks as well as a proposal by the AMPTP to do away with the force mejeure provision, "leaving it to you to individually negotiate."

In a statement, the AMPTP said no one envisions how clips could be used on the Internet 50 years ago and that the industry faces a fundamental issue: competing against "agile opponents" on the Internet while being constrained by 50-year-old rules, or find "fresh market opportunities that will generate new revenue for both actors and producers."

The AMPTP said it is possible to create a "clips iTunes" that could compete with the already existing black market.

"Producers also have no incentive to producers to devalue their own product by allowing clips to be used for unauthorized purposes," the AMPTP said. "AMPTP has proposed various safeguards ... to help protect actors from what is now occurring on the black market."
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