SAG blocs ready to rumble

Election to retain East, West political split

A correction was made to this article on Aug. 3, 2005.

The political divisions between SAG’s Hollywood and New York branches appear to be as bitter as ever, as perennially hostile factions announced their slates Tuesday for the guild’s upcoming national board elections.

Membership First, headed by a ticket of Alan Rosenberg for president and Connie Stevens for secretary-treasurer, is running a slate of 32 candidates, including JoBeth Williams, Lainie Kazan and Piper Laurie, for the 33 open seats in Hollywood. The faction, which advocates aggressive contract bargaining, already dominates on the West Coast.

Presidential candidate Morgan Fairchild, who’d previously been viewed as aligned with the moderate Restore Respect and United Screen Actors Nationwide factions, is fielding a dozen board candidates along with her running mate for secretary-treasurer Lee Garlington; they are running under a reform slate billed as the Campaign for Unity.

Actor Robert Conrad is running as an independent for president.

About a third of the 69 national board slots are up for election, with ballots going out Aug. 24 to the 100,000 SAG members. They’re due back Sept. 23.

Shotgun pumped

Membership First held a news conference Tuesday in front of SAG’s Hollywood headquarters to introduce members of the slate. Rosenberg blasted Restore Respect for being too willing to make accommodations with studios and nets and too eager to stop bargaining, citing SAG’s decision to make a deal on its film-TV contract four months prior to expiration.

“It’s necessary to stand up and fight for our fair share,” he added.

In a telephone interview with Daily Variety, Fairchild responded that her campaign will focus on working actors — a demographic she insists has been ignored amid intra-union name-calling and blame-assigning.

“Nobody should have to give up their dream of owning a home and sending their kids to college in order to stay in a business they love,” said Fairchild, adding, “As celebrity salaries have gone up, working actors’ salaries have gone down, making residuals even more important. We have to keep fighting for residuals on every contract.”

Restore Respect has seen its Hollywood base erode in recent elections, and entered only a dozen board candidates in Los Angeles. However, USAN reps are expected to continue dominating in New York, where incumbent Gotham prexy Paul Christie faces a challenge from Tom Nonnon.

USAN and Restore Respect, which helped Melissa Gilbert win two terms as president, hold a narrow majority in the SAG board room, and advocate a more pragmatic approach to contract talks.

The guild announced a total of 58 candidates in the Hollywood division on Tuesday, which will elect 11 national board slots and 22 alternates. New York division will elect a division president, five national board members and nine alternates; seven other national board seats will be elected by members repped by SAG’s regional branches.

Talent talks touted

Rosenberg also said he’d seek to relaunch talks with the Assn. of Talent Agents with the goal of signing ATA agencies to SAG’s master franchise agreement, but added he wouldn’t support easing that pact’s restrictions on agents investing in production shingles. SAG lost oversight of ATA agents in 2002, after members voted down a revamp of the franchise agreement that would have allowed agencies to own stakes in production companies, and vice versa.

Stevens also spoke, citing her financial expertise as owner of an cosmetics company. “My company’s in its 18th year and has generated over $100 million, so why SAG has any financial problems is beyond me,” she said.

Candidates running in New York are Manny Alfaro, Dave Bachman, Angela Bullock, Ralph Byers, Patrick Collins, Traci Godfrey, Chris Kies, Gerald Kline, Jeff Knapp, Jack Landron, Ruth Last, Tom Ligon, Joe Narciso, Erik-Anders Nilsson, Tom Nonnon, Steve Nuke, Jay Potter and Matt Servitto. Of the 18, Kies is the only incumbent.

In Hollywood, only three incumbents are seeking re-election to the national board — Fairchild and Membership First reps Bob Carlson and Leigh French. Eugene Boggs, who ran for president as an independent in three elections, also is seeking a board seat.

Seeking board seats from the Membership First camp are Rene Aubry, Jeff Austin, Michael Bell, David Berman, Brad Blaisdell, Joseph Bologna, Bob Carlson, Mark Carlton, Brett Cullen, Joe d’Angerio, Anthony DeSantis, Carole Elliott, Leigh French, Paul Hartel, David Jolliffe, Lainie Kazan, Gretchen Koerner, Russell McConnell, Paul Napier, Barbara Niven, F.J. O’Neill, Harrison Page, William Russ, James St. James, Justin Shenkarow, Laird Stuart, Yale Summers, Angela Watson, JoBeth Williams, Jenny Worman and Millie Wright.

The Campaign for Unity board candidates are Nick Brett, Andrew Caple-Shaw, Joe Cipriano, Christy Crowl, Trista Delamere, Lee Garlington, Linda Harmon, Gina Hecht, Cliff Karp, Luana Jackman, Keith Szarabajko and Vivicca Whitsett.

Other Hollywood candidates are Robert Amico, Sam Ayers, Frank Bank, Eugene Boggs, Rico Bueno, Steve Cutler, Mobin Khan, Mark S. Reed, Randy Rose, David Shearer, Marlene Sosebee, Kenneth D. Wade II and Karl Warren.