Fighting factions

SAG's board plans a no-confidence vote

In a sign of ongoing factionalism within the Screen Actors Guild, board members plan to seek a no-confidence vote against longtime Hollywood branch exec director Leonard Chassman at this weekend’s national board meeting.

Supporters of Chassman and associate national exec director John McGuire have clashed repeatedly with SAG prexy William Daniels and his allies. The Daniels forces took a hard line on last year’s strike against advertisers, opposed easing agents’ operating rules and have called for implementing cost-cutting measures.

Chassman, who announced in December that he would retire in August, was not available for comment about the pending no-confidence vote. It will take the form of a motion to place a 30-day limit on the notice period for departing SAG execs.

Even if the motion passes, it could not be applied to Chassman retroactively. But consideration of such an action by SAG’s ruling body is clearly designed to send a message of dissatisfaction with his performance as the guild’s No. 2 exec.

The notion of such a vote has emerged due to anger over Chassman and McGuire’s move last week to oust the two top execs from the guild’s affirmative action office (Daily Variety, March 26).

Chassman has headed the Hollywood branch, which serves more than 53% of SAG’s 98,000 members, since 1984. He originally planned to leave SAG in 2003 but moved up his departure due to Ken Orsatti’s recent retirement as national exec director, the resulting uncertainty over McGuire’s role and the shifting role of SAG senior staff, which may face extensive reorganization in the wake of recommendations in last year’s Towers Perrin study of guild operations.

The weekend plenary meeting is expected to feature contentious debate on an array of issues, including possible strategies in SAG’s upcoming film-TV contract negotiations, stalled negotiations with agents and reducing the size of the board from 105 to 62 members.

SAG’s search committee for Orsatti’s replacement is not expected to make a recommendation for several more months.

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