Screen Actors Guild board members couldn’t have picked a better place than Times Square for the street brawl that’s likely to ensue during the Guild’s national meeting this weekend over the issue of TV and pic resid commissions for agents.
SAG board members will convene at the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza hotel for two days of mostly administrative decision-making.
But fireworks of a New Year’s Eve magnitude are expected Sunday when discussion turns to the SAG agreement passed last year that allows agents to take commissions on over-scale actors’ resids for pix on pay TV, free TV, homevid or cable.
“Of all the issues on the agenda, this will, of course, be the most difficult to deal with,” SAG prexy Barry Gordon told Daily Variety. “There definitely has to be action taken on it.”
The pact with the Association of Talent Agents was easily passed by the SAG board last year. It gave agents 10% on those pic resids for actors who made more than 1- 1/2 times scale in original salary for pix shot on or after Oct. 6, 1980 . The deal was struck in June 1992, only after the ATA had threatened arbitration, which SAG lawyers feared would be costly and would result in a loss.
But over the last several weeks, opposition has been mounting from former SAG execs and current members who are angry that SAG never put up a fight. They’re calling on the board to overturn its decision.
A coalition of high-profile thesps — including former SAG prexys Ed Asner, Charlton Heston, John Gavin and Dennis Weaver, and actors Rod Steiger, Ron Howard, Dennis Quaid, Paul Winfield and Amanda Plummer — has already signed a resolution that told SAG leaders in no uncertain terms that the agreement was a mistake.
Gordon, who originally backed the plan, amended his support two weeks ago after 100 SAG members turned out to denounce the pact at a special meeting with board members.
“I don’t believe that we, collectively as a board, explored this issue in enough depth before wemade a decision,” he said, just days before the New York conference. “That’s not an easy thing to admit. We did not approach this with our usual level of care.”
Former SAG veep Ron Soble, who is spearheading efforts against the agreement, spoke out against it vehemently at the earlier meeting and, according to reports , was involved in a heated argument with Gordon.
Soble at the time called the fiery meeting a “dress rehearsal” for this weekend’s national conference in New York, claiming board members had been very supportive of his stance.
The hot topic is likely to dominate the weekend’s discussions both on and off the podium, even though SAG staffers placed it on the last day of the agenda.
Apart from the agents’ resids issue, Gordon said the meeting would be fairly normal procedure.
Other issues that the board is scheduled to review include: a report on geographical representation on the negotiating committee; a report on direct representation by Hispanicperformers; a SAG legislative committee recommendation regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement; the appointment of a Women’s Task Force; and possible misuse of SAG membership applications.