Screen Actors Guild president Richard Masur plunged into the election season Tuesday by naming his slate for SAG’s balloting, which concludes Nov. 5.
Masur, running for a third term in office, made the announcement over lunch in the Fox lot commissary, as he sought to paint a picture of an all-inclusive union in which divisiveness and enmity — a staple of recent SAG politics — have no place.
“To us, it’s irrelevant whether people are on our slate or on anyone else’s slate,” he said. “We just want to get the best people elected.”
Masur’s ticket, composed of members of the SAG group Pro-Act (Professional Actors for Union Solidarity) — in essence, a political party within the union — is made up of Dena Dietrich, running for recording secretary; Mitchell Ryan, treasurer; Amy Aquino, first veepee; Tom Bower, third VP; Cynthia De Cure, ninth veep; and Wren T. Brown, 11th VP.
The loyal opposition, the Performers’ Alliance, has yet to name its slate.
All the Pro-Act candidates have served on the board before. The positions of president, recording secretary and treasurer are voted upon by the entire national membership; the VP spots are decided only by Hollywood branch members.
In addition to the officers, 14 Hollywood board seats are up for election.
“When we actually focus on the issues and needs of actors instead of on personalities and politics, we actually don’t have a tremendous amount of differences on the issues,” Masur said, referring to his dealings with the Performers’ Alliance. That group, he said, “feels it’s a disadvantage to work together in a harmonious way because they draw their strength from dissent.”
Masur said he was “staggered to think what we could accomplish” if only the internal feuding would stop.
“I have put more people who are political opponents of mine on important committee positions than anyone else in history,” he went on.
Bower, a 27-year member of SAG who chairs the National Contract Campaign Steering Committee, said board meetings are “like a wrestling match … It’s a struggle for power.”
“What we’re elected to do is represent the working actor,” said Dietrich, a 45-year veteran. “But it’s nonsense when there’s all this shouting. The members’ work doesn’t get done. It used to be a fairly harmonious board room — we weren’t there until 1 o’clock in the morning, screaming and yelling at each other.”
In a statement, the Pro-Act candidates said they intend to focus the guild’s energy on issues that threaten actors’ livelihoods, including cutbacks in wages and residuals, runaway production, corporate globalization and violations of SAG contracts.
In addition, they plan to help increase diversity in casting, end abuse of the voucher system, advance a commercials residual monitoring program, and sign up more independent and digital filmmakers.