HOLLYWOOD — Advocates of cutting the size of the Screen Actors Guild’s national board have been cleared to begin circulating a referendum petition to take the issue directly to SAG’s 98,000 members.
Wednesday’s approval by SAG staff came on the eve of a special meeting by the national board on the same proposal to reduce the number of seats from 107 to 62 and boost Hollywood’s representation to 53% from 46%, to reflect the actual proportion of members in the region. Under the plan, 32 of those seats will go to the Hollywood region.
The clearance of the referendum will likely mean that board members arriving at SAG headquarters today in Hollywood will be met by backers with petitions. The advocates of the referendum plan to go through with the drive, which will require obtaining at least 10% of all members’ signatures, unless the board approves it at today’s confab.
Reps outside Hollywood are generally bitterly opposed to the proposal, claiming it will lead to a closing of many of SAG’s two dozen regional branch offices. They may propose a compromise of an 88-seat board.
Advocates of the plan deny they are moving to close smaller offices and contend that a smaller board is a crucial step in cutting spending from SAG’s $50 million budget. SAG prexy William Daniels recently warned that members will face their second dues increase in two years if the board does not show more fiscal restraint.
“It is time that the membership voice is heard in the board room,” the referendum committee said. “Politics and power struggles have taken the place of serving the members. With a reduced board, something just might be accomplished, for the members.”
Supporters of the referendum include Richard Crenna, Rebeccah Bush and board members Frances Fisher and David Huddleston.