Ousted exec appears at Hollywood protest
Nearly two months after being fired by SAG’s elected leaders, Doug Allen has returned.
SAG’s former national exec made a brief appearance at midday Wednesday on a picket line outside CBS Television City in Hollywood, joining about 100 members who are protesting the final offer on the table from the majors. He wasn’t available for comment after the event.
“He told me, ‘I heard that some of my friends were here,’ ” said Scott Wilson, who had organized the event. “People who are out here really respect what he tried to do.”
Allen became a lightning rod during his two-year tenure at SAG, with the moderate coalition that gained control last fall becoming increasingly frustrated with his inability to close out the feature-primetime contract and his advocacy of a strike authorization. After Allen’s Membership First backers staged a ferocious 30-hour filibuster on Jan. 12-13 to prevent his ouster, the moderates used a “written assent” two weeks later to fire him.
Allen sent out a brief farewell message on the day he was fired but has kept a low profile since. SAG president Alan Rosenberg and three other members tried to reinstate Allen by suing SAG and the board members who had voted to fire him but struck out in court.
Membership First has advocated sending out the companies’ “last, best, final” offer to members so that they can vote it down as a way of pushing the congloms to improve the deal. But the SAG national board has spurned that strategy.
Instead, David White — Allen’s interim replacement as national exec director — has reassured thesps he’s trying to break the stalemate. White said Tuesday that SAG leaders are working “deliberately, and with as much haste as possible, to conclude our talks and bring to you, the members, a deal for your ratification.”
White said there are no dates scheduled for a return to formal negotiations. “However, our negotiators are active behind the scenes,” he added.
That was White’s first communication with members other than a message he sent when Allen was ousted.
SAG and the AMPTP nearly reached a deal on Feb. 19, but those talks collapsed over the contract expiration date — with SAG pushing for a mid-2011 expiration in line with the pacts of other unions while the AMPTP insisted on a full three-year term from the date of ratification. SAG members are working under terms of a contract that expired June 30.
Wilson also said that opponents of the deal plan to picket today at NBC Studios in Burbank in connection with President Obama’s appearance on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.”