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In February, a handful of actors from the abortion drama Roe v. Wade came forward to share frustrations that they had yet to be paid for their work on the film more than two years after wrapping production. It’s now May — and they’re still waiting.
Cathy Allyn, a co-writer, co-director and producer of the film, relayed in February that the funds had been released to SAG. “They have the money, and it’s up to SAG to release it,” said Allyn. Multiple actors tell The Hollywood Reporter that they have been contacting SAG for months attempting to get updates on their paychecks, but information has been hard to come by.
Tim Beasley, who played iconic ABC newsman Ted Koppel, says, “The production company and SAG-AFTRA should respect us actors a little more. We should’ve been paid first and foremost. I know we were the cast, but I don’t want to be treated like I’m in a caste system. I feel like a minion instead of an actor.”
Beasley said it also pains him to see his name in the final credits while the film is available to rent across such platforms as Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Google Play and YouTube. Roe v. Wade had a high-profile premiere in Orlando during the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, an event that marked the first major public appearance by Donald Trump since he left office.
Added actress Sherri Eakin: “We have repeatedly asked for updates with a date and the exact amount owed to us, and we have never gotten those answers. SAG conducted a full review of the film’s payroll and knows how much we are due. I am so frustrated and confused why we still have no answers.”
Allyn offered an update from the production side, saying that they released the funds to SAG on Feb. 10. “SAG engaged a payroll company a couple of days ago and that company has started making the arrangements to release the funds, which will cover between 80-90 percent of what’s due. The remainder will come from the proceeds from the film.”
On May 20, SAG-AFTRA responded to THR’s earlier request for comment by saying that the producers of Roe v. Wade “failed to timely and accurately pay the performers” and that they “repeatedly breached their obligations” to the actors.
Added the union rep: “SAG-AFTRA brought grievances, filed a demand for arbitration, and ultimately obtained a default arbitration award against the producers before they would engage with us in reaching a resolution. After that default award, SAG-AFTRA secured authorization from the producer to release funds held in deposit. We immediately engaged a payroll company to process pro-rata payments for performers. … The producers have since failed to provide the necessary employment documentation the payroll house needs to complete the payment process. We are now collecting the documents ourselves to prevent continued delays.”
The union will continue to utilize all tools available to secure all payments due, the rep added. “Furthermore, the producers are exploiting the picture to residuable markets, and we will require prompt reporting and full payment of residuals.”
May 20, 3:10 p.m.: Updated to include a statement from SAG-AFTRA.
A version of this story first appeared in the May 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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