Rosenberg still fiery despite criticism

SAG president Alan Rosenberg’s not backing down from seeking strike authorization despite blistering criticism that’s mounted over the past week.

He’s remained upbeat in interviews and in front of members, putting the best face on prospects that the authorization may not receive the required 75% support among SAG members who cast ballots in the upcoming referendum.

Labor observers have grown increasingly skeptical that SAG members will vote up the authorization amid a declining economy and growing dissension within the guild.

But in interviews Thursday after hosting the SAG nominations announcement, Rosenberg indicated he’s still expecting the vote will pass muster — even as a No SAG Strike petition topped 1,000 endorsers, including high-profile signers such as George Clooney, Russell Crowe and Tom Hanks.

And Rosenberg hasn’t dialed down the aggressiveness toward the congloms or his opponents — even though he was the subject of considerable rancor at Monday night’s town hall meeting in New York. In a Hollywood town hall meeting Wednesday night before a friendly crowd of more than 400, Rosenberg said the reporting on the Gotham session had exaggerated the level of hostility, and he noted that several actors had apologized to him over the conduct of their fellow members.

Rosenberg said Wednesday that the stars urging a no vote “should be ashamed of themselves” because they are ignoring the sacrifices of their forefathers at SAG. And he stressed that members need to look at the bigger picture and support a strike authorization in order to ensure that younger members are compensated fairly for work performed on and streamed from new media.

Rosenberg has also been stressing two other points repeatedly: that the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers has not dealt with SAG in good faith and that the authorization is not a vote for a strike.

SAG national exec director Doug Allen repeated that contention at the town hall meeting Wednesday, asserting that the SAG board may not act immediately to call a strike if the authorization is approved. He added that SAG would ask the AMPTP to start negotiations again at that point.

AMPTP spokesman Jesse Hiestand disputed the assessment that SAG would hold off on a strike.

“Make no mistake about it: If actors vote to strike, then actors will soon be striking,” said Hiestand. “SAG’s negotiating strategy has failed badly; SAG has shown no willingness to compromise, and a strike is all SAG has left. Strike or no strike, SAG does not deserve a better deal than the rest of the industry negotiated earlier this year during far better economic times.”

SAG leaders indicated Wednesday that they plan to announce still more member education efforts through the holiday season and new year but did not disclose specifics.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more