Guild aims to redistribute $25 mil in residuals

SAG’s launching a “Get Your Money” campaign, aimed at distributing some of the more than $25 million in “unclaimed residuals” it hasn’t given to more than 66,000 people — including heirs of John F. Kennedy, Clark Gable, Alan Ladd, Freddie Prinze and Redd Foxx along with such notables as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Michael Dukakis and Nancy Reagan.

In notices included in the current SAG Actor and Call Sheet publications, the guild said it’s facing a “dilemma” in getting the funds distributed because it doesn’t have the correct addresses in most cases.

“Some residuals checks belong to nonmembers or one-time actors, many of whom aren’t even aware that they have residuals coming to them,” the ad said. “In an effort to reduce this surplus, the finance committee is embarking on a marketing campaign to get the word out to possible residuals recipients.”

The ad includes instructions on how to access unclaimed residuals information on the Screen Actors Guild website.

The campaign’s being launched as the guild moves to settle a lawsuit over how it disburses millions of dollars from foreign tax revenues to actors. Settlement talks were set to begin last month over the suit by Ken Osmond, alleging SAG mishandled those funds and lacks the authority to oversee them in the first place.

Osmond’s allegations brought to light SAG’s disclosure last year that it had collected $8 million of the foreign funds for its members. The guild’s asserting that those foreign royalties are separate from more than $25 million in unclaimed residuals; it’s also asserted in a SAG Actor article that it’s disbursed $2 million of the foreign funds.

SAG had no comment Wednesday on the Osmond suit other than to say it was a pending legal matter.

The issue of SAG’s authority to handle the foreign levies and the unclaimed residuals is also under challenge from Eric Hughes — who has monitored the issue extensively at his Screenrights.net site. Hughes has said SAG is mischaracterizing how the guild has handled the funds, asserting that “unclaimed residuals” due to nonmembers such as Presidents Kennedy and Johnson have actually come through foreign royalties, although without any authority for SAG to collect those funds.

“United States presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson were not members of SAG who appeared in a SAG-covered audiovisual work, nor were they ever ‘one-time actors’ in a SAG-covered work,” Hughes said in response to SAG’s campaign.

The foreign levies for U.S. creatives began to flow after the American agreement in 1989 to sign terms of the Berne Convention, which establishes the right of authorship for the individuals who create works of art.

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