Talent Managers Reject SAG-AFTRA Code (Again)

Three associations issue a statement three weeks after the Personal Manager Code, to which only two managers have signed on, was introduced.

Three talent manager associations issued a joint statement Monday rejecting the recently introduced SAG-AFTRA Personal Manager Code of Ethics and Conduct. Two of the associations, representing managers who rep actors, had previously denounced the Code, but the addition of a third, the Music Managers Forum, was new.

“[The Code] adversely affects the needs of personal managers, their artist clients and the entertainment industry,” said the statement. “Not only is their Code too disruptive to a manager’s ability to work with and communicate with artists, it includes SAG-AFTRA’s own legal interpretation of laws relating to managers and agents that would discourage managers from taking on developmental clients, especially those without agency representation. Further, SAG-AFTRA has no vetting process, allowing anyone to receive approval despite a poor reputation, history of poor service or worse.”

In response, SAG-AFTRA told The Hollywood Reporter: “It is not surprising that these trade associations resist regulation that is designed for consumer protection. Nonetheless, that is what is needed, and it is long overdue. This is an area that is rife with abuse and our members both need and deserve the strongest possible protections consistent with the law -- just like they have in any other industry. The Code reflects the interests and support of SAG-AFTRA members and a number of professional managers who also lent their expertise to its development. We are moving forward because we know this is the right thing for the industry and the artists we represent and protect.”

The managers groups’ statement also attacked the union’s process. “Our associations disapprove of the manner in which the labor union developed, adopted and disseminated the SAG-AFTRA Personal Manager Code of Ethics and Conduct, which we believe lacked credibility, sincerity and truthfulness.”

Members of the Talent Managers Association and the TMA’s counsel participated in discussions about the Code, and the union modified an earlier draft in order to reflect some of the organization’s feedback. However, according to the TMA’s counsel, the Code was drafted solely by the union. Ultimately, the TMA was unhappy with the final product and did not endorse it.

Another managers association, the National Conference of Personal Managers (NCOPM), provided critical comments on the Code in December, but did not participate in the discussions.

However, the Music Managers Forum was not involved in the process at all. “I wasn’t aware of [the Code] until last week,” said MMF president Barry Bergman in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “I had never heard from SAG-AFTRA.” The MMF is concerned with the issue, because band members sometimes have to become SAG-AFTRA members if they appear repeatedly on television shows such as late-night programs. (In addition, SAG-AFTRA represents singers.)

“Managers are very able and capable of self-regulation and taking care of our own affairs,” Bergman added.

The managers groups’ opposition seems to have taken a toll: Although a union source previously told THR that it had a mailing list of well over 2,000 managers, a check of the SAG-AFTRA website revealed that only two managers had signed the Code.

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