White exits his role as SAG counsel

Departure continues recent Guild woes

Screen Actors Guild general counsel David White is ankling his post in July after four years.

His departure underlines the uncertainty at SAG, coming six months after guild leaders fired CEO Greg Hessinger and three other execs. SAG hasn’t yet filled the top slot, with former chief financial officer Peter Frank serving on an interim basis.

White, who oversees a staff of 40, announced his resignation Thursday and asserted that his time at SAG had been “an extraordinary professional and personal experience.”

SAG prexy Alan Rosenberg said in a statement, “I am very disappointed that David will be leaving the guild but am grateful he will always remain a friend of this organization.”

White, a former Rhodes Scholar who worked at the Los Angeles firm O’Melveny and Myers, was hired at SAG by Bob Pisano, who had previously worked at the same law firm. Pisano departed the CEO slot last year and subsequently became president of the Motion Picture Assn. of America.

White’s tenure included taking part in Pisano’s revamp of SAG operations and an extended battle with the assertive Membership First faction over Pisano’s holding a board seat on Netflix while serving as chief exec of the guild. Two members sued SAG over the perceived conflicts of interest while the guild’s internal and external reviews found no conflict; the suit, dismissed in 2004, is on appeal.

White received a salary of $197,184 in the 2003-04 fiscal year, according to SAG’s filing with the U.S. Labor Dept.

Hessinger’s firing came after Membership First took control of the guild’s national board following a campaign stressing that SAG needed to be more assertive.

Guild just promoted Tom La Grua, who’s been national director of contract strategy, to replace the retired Sallie Weaver as interim head of the contracts department.

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