Slot may remain unfilled until February, March

Screen Actors Guild prexy William Daniels has formed a search committee to find a replacement for Ken Orsatti, who will retire Jan. 15 as the union’s national executive director.

Daniels said the nine-member panel, appointed earlier this week, has not yet interviewed candidates and has not set a deadline for making a recommendation to SAG’s national board. He admitted the slot may remain unfilled until after Orsatti’s departure date but added that the process should be completed by February or March.

The panel consists of Daniels, four reps from Los Angeles, two from New York and two from the other 24 SAG branches. Earlier this month, Daniels told presidents of the branches that there was no truth to rumors that candidates had been contacted about the post (Daily Variety, Nov. 14).

Any ideas?

Daniels said Wednesday that the panel will be open to suggestions about candidates. “We’re playing this in a very ad hoc manner,” he added.

Orsatti, who has been in the post since 1981, announced his retirement on Oct. 29. On the same day, SAG associate national exec director John McGuire took himself out of the running to be Orsatti’s successor.

SAG insiders have said no obvious replacements have yet emerged but discussions of key qualifications have focused on the need for a business-savvy exec with entertainment industry experience.

SAG, which has 98,000 members, faces major challenges in tough upcoming negotiations with studios and networks over its film-TV contract, which expires June 30; deadlocked negotiations with agents over a revised agency operating agreement, which will lapse in 14 months; and implementing recommendations contained in a Towers Perrin study to streamline and update SAG operations.

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