Guilds in headlock

Exec directors posts still vacant but search is on for replacements

Hollywood, which never has a shortage of worries, is growing increasingly concerned over what SAG and the WGA West might do at upcoming contract talks.

One hitch: Both guilds last fall fired their exec directors — Greg Hessinger at SAG and John McLean at the WGAW — without replacing them. SAG’s commercials contract expires in October and the WGA film-TV pact is up in October 2007.

Both posts have been vacant for more than six months, with former chief financial officer Peter Frank acting as interim chief at SAG and director of organizing David Young temporarily in the WGA West slot.

Aside from promises from both guilds of a more assertive bargaining stance, what’s troubling for studio and network execs is the absence of a go-to person familiar with the nuances of showbiz finances as negotiations approach.

Both guilds have appointed search committees, and the WGA West panel has been meeting with candidates, including Young. Neither org has disclosed timetables as to how soon a board vote might occur, but the WGA probably will make a decision this summer.

At SAG, the process has been shrouded in secrecy since the October firings of Hessinger and three other execs. The search committee’s composition may be part of the reason for the slow going: It consists of president Alan Rosenberg, two of his allies and two of his opponents.

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