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Allen backs Rosenberg to SAG

Former guild head defends president's actions

Doug Allen’s not going away quietly.

With SAG heading back into feature-primetime negotiations next week without Allen, the twice-ousted guild topper has blasted those who fired him as part of an impassioned defense of president Alan Rosenberg.

Alan Rosenberg has been called to task in recent weeks by some of the press and bloggers for being a ‘hardline’ negotiator and for his comments regarding the state of the Screen Actors Guild and its negotiations with the AMPTP for a new contract with the studios and networks,” Allen said in an open letter Monday. “Alan may wear his heart on his sleeve, but his heart is in exactly the right place.”

The moderate majority of the SAG national board booted Allen out for what they perceived as intransigence in being overly beholden to Rosenberg’s Membership First faction and for bungling the negotiations, leaving SAG without a contract since June.

In response to Allen’s letter, board member and former New York SAG president Paul Christie expressed no rancor.

“I wish him well and hope that he moves on with his life,” Christie said. “The guild, thankfully, is moving on.”

Allen asserted that Rosenberg’s done the right thing by refusing to accept the AMPTP’s final offer, which matched the terms of deals signed last year by the DGA, WGA, AFTRA and IATSE.

“SAG president Alan Rosenberg has led the campaign to expose management’s unreasonable and intransigent demands for what they are, and, more than anyone else, he has changed that debate,” Allen said. “He deserves to be acknowledged and thanked for his selfless leadership, exercised at great personal cost, not dismissed by the facile, shallow and unsubstantiated disdain of some commentators.”

Allen made no mention of the 28-hour filibuster Rosenberg led to prevent Allen’s firing last month — which included the pledge of a “civil war” — or the extraordinary lawsuit Rosenberg filed last week against SAG and 41 national board members to overturn the ousters. Instead, he characterized Rosenberg as a “centrist.”

“Alan Rosenberg has spent years meeting with the New York and regional branch division members in a heartfelt and genuine effort to listen to their needs and to unite this union,” Allen said. “No other SAG president ever visited the entire membership branch by branch. That unity hasn’t yet happened, though through no fault of Alan Rosenberg’s.”

Allen also noted that SAG factions have little incentive to compromise since elections can swing control of the board, leading to his successor David White becoming the eighth interim or permanent national exec director at SAG in 10 years.

Meanwhile, a group of 100 below-the-liners demonstrated Monday at SAG headquarters in Hollywood to urge both sides to begin negotiating a deal given the ongoing slowdown in feature film production. No date’s been officially set, though talks are widely expected to relaunch Tuesday, with a new SAG task force and senior adviser John McGuire in Allen’s place.

“We’re not taking sides, but we just want a deal,” said Bruce McCleery, a cinematographer who helped organize the event. “I would say that 75% of crew who would normally be working on features are out of work, waiting for a breakthrough.”

The Back to Work organization, which formed in the wake of Sundance, also delivered a petition with more than 500 signatures to SAG deputy national exec director Pamm Fair.

The event also drew Membership First supporters, who have been demonstrating for the past two weeks in support of Allen and against whatever deal SAG negotiates. The mixture prompted a number of sidewalk debates and discussions amid blustery winds.

“Imagine how many people would have shown up if we’d had better weather,” said camera operator Jon Philion.

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