Only 100 actors attend meeting about deal

In a sign that the Screen Actors Guild’s contract ratification battle is nearing its end, only about 100 thesps attended a town hall meeting in New York about the deal.

Monday’s meeting at the DGA Theatre – the final of 13 such events organized by SAG to promote ratification – contrasted sharply with the first town-hall meeting in Hollywood on May 21, when a capacity crowd 600 thesps attended a raucous session that featured booing of interim national exec David White and standing ovations for SAG president Alan Rosenberg for opposing the deal.

The confab also produced little of the emotion that dominated at SAG’s most recent town hall meeting in New York, which drew an SRO crowd in December that blasted Rosenberg and since-fired SAG topper Doug Allen for pushing for a strike authorization.

“Since it was an informational meeting about the contract, it did not generate the same kind of turnout as the meeting in December about the strike authorization,” said national board member Sue-Anne Morrow of the New York confabs. “I think that most actors in New York have already cast their votes, and that they are overwhelmingly voting yes.”

Ballots went out May 19 to 110,000 SAG members and are due back June 9.

In addition to White and Rosenberg, Monday’s session drew Rosenberg allies Anne-Marie Johnson and Scott Wilson, while supporters of the deal included Dan Lauria, Dylan Baker, SAG 2nd VP Sam Freed and board members Ralph Byers, Paul Christie, Rebecca Damon, Mike Hodge and Kevin Scullin.

In response to questions as to what course SAG should take should the deal be voted down, Rosenberg said it was incumbent upon the national board to support the will of the membership to send out a strike authorization vote — which would require 75% support among those voting — and then go on strike it the congloms don’t offer a “fair” contract.

Proponents of the deal have attacked Rosenberg’s plan as unrealistic.

“If there was anything in his head resembling a plan or a strategy to offer, God knows it would have surfaced by now,” Christie said. “I often think he sees everybody going back to the table and everybody staying there till they die.”

Matt Mulhern, who’s strongly against to the deal, asserted that SAG leaders appeared to be surprised by the level of opposition at the meeting.

“I can tell you for a fact, the looks on the faces of David White, John McGuire, Sam Freed and Mike Hodge said ‘I thought these were friendlies and many of them are not,'” Mulhern said. “I saw real worry on the faces, and rightfully so.”

SAG also announced Monday that over 1,200 members have signed a “statement of solidarity” in support of the deal. Alec Baldwin, George Clooney, Sally Field and Tom Hanks were among the 500 members who endorsed ratification last week, contending that actors have been hurt economically by working an expired contract for the past year.

Opponents have complained about the deal’s perceived shortfalls in new-media pay and jurisdiction. A new video from Charles Shaugnessy, Anne Ramsey and Rance Howard along with board members Esai Morales and Nancy Sinatra detailed complaints about low pay for new media residuals and the deal’s alleged lack of clip consent provisions.

In another video, former SAG president Ed Asner blasted opponents and AFTRA for alleged “collusion and betrayal” in seeking to undermine Rosenberg over the past two years.

The campaign in favor of the deal has noted that members have been working under terms and conditions of a film-TV contract that expired last June 30, when the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers made their final offer. They’ve noted that SAG members have lost out on an estimated $85 million in salary gains as a result of not having a new deal.

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