Thesps on the set of Warners’ classical-music pic “August Rush” are riled, alleging that SAG credit on the production is being revoked a month after a shoot.
About 75 actors who turned out in Gotham’s Central Park on April 11-13 to play the musicians of the New York Philharmonic say they received Screen Actors Guild vouchers at the production but are now receiving payment through the AFM, the national musicians’ union.
The actors have filed an official complaint with the National Labor Relations Board and have, unofficially, registered displeasure with Warner Bros. and the local and national chapters of SAG.
They have also refused to sign new paperwork that would turn the contract over to the AFM.
Leonid Citer (“Castaway,” “The Interpreter”), who is repping the thesps, said that because the two dozen or so thesps signed SAG vouchers, they should receive health care and pension credits.
More importantly, he said, the roughly 50 non-SAG actors who turned up under the assumption the three days would earn them guild membership under the waiver program should be admitted to the union.
“I just don’t understand why SAG would lay down on this,” Citer said. (Money, he said, isn’t an issue; it works out to roughly the same under either contract.)
SAG rep Seth Oster acknowledged that the deal was initially signed under guild terms but said production firm Southpaw made a mistake and should have negotiated the deal as an AFM contract. According to an agreement between the two unions, the rep said, contracts on films that involve music fall to the union with the better terms — in this case, the AFM.
Oster said the union regretted the deal but little could be done now. “This was a mistake by the production company,” he said.
But pic exec producer Robert Greenhut said he had checked repeatedly with SAG that the deal could be handled by the guild and earlier in the production had even shot actors playing musicians under SAG contracts. Only after the Central Park shoot was he informed that the AFM had jurisdiction.
“The personnel on the film have every right to be upset,” Greenhut said. “SAG says that they were hired to play musicians, but I don’t buy that at all, any more than showing the Army means the actors should be considered in the armed forces.”
Citer said late Monday that a SAG rep told him the union was working to get pension and health care credits for the SAG actors who worked on the pic.
Warner Bros. declined to comment.
Pic shows the difficulty of a shoot featuring talent with overlapping skills — and the actors who are hired to play in them.
Gotham-set fairy tale about a musical prodigy stars Robin Williams, Keri Russell and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.