Michael Apted slams SAG president
The Directors Guild of America has told Screen Actors Guild president Alan Rosenberg to shut up and go away.
That’s the sentiment expressed by outgoing DGA president Michael Apted in a blunt letter responding to Rosenberg’s request for a summit meeting of the town’s unions about the 2011 round of negotiations.
Rosenberg pledged he would make such an effort on June 9, in the aftermath of SAG members’ ratification of the feature-primetime contract. But, in a letter sent Wednesday, Apted made it abundantly clear that Rosenberg’s relentless criticism of the DGA has been so out of line that the DGA’s not remotely interested in any such get-together.
Apted noted that under “normal circumstances,” such a summit meeting to discuss negotiations could take place — but without public proclamations announcing the meeting first.
“Of course, these are not normal circumstances,” Apted said. “Since June 9, I’ve seen repeated statements in the press regarding your intention to call a meeting, yet Monday’s email is the first time you’ve made any effort to contact me in over 18 months. In addition, you’ve repeatedly, and in my opinion unfraternally, attacked the negotiations and contracts of the DGA and other unions in the press and other public forums. So, in the circumstances, I’m very surprised that you would consider yourself to be in a position to convene an event that requires trust and fraternity to have any chance of success.”
Apted concluded the letter by saying, “On behalf of the DGA, I respectfully decline your request.”
Rosenberg told Daily Variety he was disappointed over Apted’s response.
“It’s a shame that what had been a private communication has become public,” he said. “I’m disappointed that Michael Apted doesn’t share my belief in the importance of building unity among the unions because our collective efforts should be towards obtaining a decent deal in two years. What’s happened at past negotiations doesn’t really matter now.”
The SAG president’s power to speak officially on behalf of the guild was taken away in late January as part of the move by the board’s moderates to oust former SAG national exec director Doug Allen.
But there’s been bad blood between the guilds dating back to Jan. 29, 2008 — when Rosenberg and Allen blasted the DGA’s tentative contract agreement with the majors, which eventually served as the template for the WGA, AFTRA and SAG contracts. Rosenberg and Allen criticized many of the specifics of the deal in a message sent to SAG members.
Apted responded on the same day by accusing SAG of throwing a monkey wrench into the talks between the WGA and majors that would ultimately settle the scribes’ 100-day walkout.
“Their letter has one purpose and one purpose only: to interfere with the informal talks currently under way between the WGA and the studios,” Apted said at the time. “Simply put, their assumptions and arguments are specious. The DGA deal is a great deal for our members.”
AFTRA president Roberta Reardon said last week that there had been no movement toward a summit meeting. She had proposed the idea a year ago but said last Friday that she’d wait until after the SAG elections in September before exploring such a step.
An AFTRA rep said that Los Angeles Local President Ron Morgan received an invitation earlier this week from Rosenberg to meet at his home on Aug. 3 to discuss “building solidarity” between the entertainment labor unions. But she added that AFTRA leaders won’t be available.
“AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon never received an invitation,” the rep added. “The entire AFTRA leadership team will be in Chicago from Monday, August 3 through Sunday, August 9 for the Convention and other related union meetings, which have been scheduled for more than a year.”
WGA West spokesman Neal Sacharow said that WGA West president Patric Verrone — who will be termed out of office in September — will attend the Aug. 3 meeting at Rosenberg’s home. Besides Apted, Verrone and Morgan, Rosenberg also invited Michael Miller, VP of the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.
“The refrain I heard most often during this past negotiating season is that we had to ‘build solidarity between our organizations’ in preparation for 2011,” Rosenberg said in the invite. “I would like to invite you to what, I hope, will be the first in a series of informal, discussions designed to create that unity. In general, I would like to explore those areas where we share common ground, and how we might develop strategies that will benefit our respective members.”