Interested bystander hopes SAG is back with open mind


SAG president Alan Rosenberg's immediate predecessor applauded the AFTRA agreement Wednesday and said she hopes its terms aren't rejected out of hand by SAG negotiators.

"I think any opportunity for us to keep this town working is a good thing," said Melissa Gilbert, whose tenure as SAG's top elected officer included an unsuccessful push for a SAG-AFTRA merger. "I will be anxious to see how SAG handles it going forward. They were pretty quick to shoot down the DGA deal, (so) it will be interesting to see what happens now."

Essentially, AFTRA won increases in Internet compensation and other areas similar to those secured by the DGA and the WGA and also got the AMPTP to dial down a demand that actors' consent no longer be required for the reuse of film and TV clips.

Gilbert, who recently agreed to write her memoirs for publication in spring 2009, will soon relocate to Minnesota for the summer. She will appear in a musical adaptation of the classic frontier-family TV series that launched her career, "Little House on the Prairie," at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.

Gilbert said she hadn't seen many details of the AFTRA agreement but added that she thought AFTRA negotiators seemed to secure a fair pact.

"I know it was very hard-won, and there are extreme opinions on both sides, between AFTRA and the (AMPTP) and between SAG and the AMPTP," she said. "The consent issue was a hot one, and it was also a very sexy issue. But it was a very dangerous game the AMPTP was playing there for a while."

Gilbert added that she hoped the issue had been effectively resolved, as AMPTP negotiators return their attention to talks with SAG — which, like AFTRA, has a contract expiration date of June 30.

"They don't have a lot of time," she said.