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Gilbert seeks guidance on digital

Prexy also looks for merger opposition to step up

SAG prexy Melissa Gilbert has offered an olive branch to opponents of the SAG-AFTRA merger, asking for help in sorting out jurisdictional questions between the performers’ unions.

In a message sent Thursday to SAG’s 98,000 members on behalf of the national board, Gilbert said the panel’s most pressing concern will be the upcoming negotiations for the commercials and film-TV contracts.

She said the merger would have solved jurisdictional issues over TV shows shot on digital, adding, “This remains a problem that must be solved promptly.”

Gilbert said SAG is directing its energy and resources toward a solution. “In particular,” she said, “we are asking those who opposed the consolidation plan on the basis that more desirable alternatives were available to come forward and describe those alternatives in detail.”

Gilbert also said SAG is vigorously investigating “unauthorized and misleading” emails sent to members during the campaign.

The SaveSAG anti-merger faction contended during the campaign that guild leaders should have been able to clear up the disagreement on digital without merging unions, particularly since AFTRA’s rates are lower in that sector, and asserted the dispute had been manufactured by staff as a pretext for pushing the merger. Their alternatives included having SAG take over all acting work while providing AFTRA with some kind of financial compensation to keep AFTRA solvent; a shared-services plan to cut duplicative costs; and conducting a study of the impact of a single pension and health plan for actors.

SaveSAG leader David Jolliffe told Daily Variety, “We presented these alternatives three months ago because we felt the merger would not pass. This dispute with AFTRA is something we can work out.”

SAG treasurer Kent McCord, who led the anti-merger campaign, has announced he will challenge Gilbert for the presidency (Daily Variety, July 8). Elliott Gould, Robert Hays, Anne-Marie Johnson, Diane Ladd and Seymour Cassel have taken out petitions to run for Hollywood seats on the SAG national board as allies of McCord.

Gould is currently SAG secretary, but that post is being eliminated as part of a governance plan approved last year. Johnson is a former board member, while Ladd and Cassel are currently serving one-year terms on the board.

Gilbert’s supporters dominate the 71-member national board, with 24 seats open including a dozen in Hollywood. Former board members Peggy Miley, F.J. O’Neill, Alan Rosenberg, Yale Summers and DeWayne Williams also have taken out petitions to run as part of McCord’s slate.

Deadline for petitions is July 24, with ballots sent out Aug. 26 and results announced Sept. 23.

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