Tuesday, May 26, 2009

SAG Screwed Itself

There is right now a lot of hullabaloo over a proposed contract for Primetime TV and Theatrical Release between SAG and AMPTP. The 'sides' or factions that are allied to vote NO and YES are putting out internet videos, writing blogs, holding demonstrations, holding meetings to convince the majority to vote a particular way. We, however, will not see the results of these ballots for a little while. Here are some questions a few people have asked me on the subject.

Will it be ratified? Yes.

Should it be ratified? Not, if you are an actor with a career that precedes 1974 and 9171. For all the others, it's a toss up.

Why will it be ratified? Because everyone is broke. The WGA strike killed income for actors by default from late 2007 through the spring of 2008. A minor window of earning potential opened up between about March of 2008 and June of 2008. Then it closed when SAG failed to do anything about their contract until what will be June of 2009. So, that's (count it) 17 Months of decreased revenue earning potential for SAG working class actors. A year and a half where things have become so bad that A and B list actors are poaching guest starring roles from TV shows, Commericals, and co-starring roles on independent movies, that would have formerly gone to lesser known 'working class actors'.

To make matters worse, the economic downturn has forced Studios to pull back on their budgets and spending, which means that if you live in New York or Hollywood, you're watching potential shows you could have worked on, go out to Toronto, Utah, Michigan, North Carolina, etc. Local actors are being used sparingly in these productions, and you my L.A. friends are not getting these shows back.

The Los Angeles actor who is working today is facing a crisis. The crisis that nothing is shooting in town, and the projects being shot are being out-sourced to cheaper cities. So, to stop the bleeding SAG has to start working again on a new contract so Studios will start shooting in town again. However, you've already lost so much. Just when shows were returning to California after at trend in them leaving to go out state or out of the country, your Union's piss poor negotiating strategy is forcing productions back out of California. Guess what? Your paycheck is going right along with it.

If you had a career in the early seventies, and you have been fortunate to collect some residuals from that old work, you will never see a penny from New Media. As the new deal prevents the studio from having to pay you. So, all you Star Trek stars? You'll never see any money from those shows when they Air on Hulu.com (which by the way, they already are).

The sad part here is, now a deal has to be ratified or actors are going to starve. The bad part is that even after almost a year of negotiation. SAG could not get a better deal than the one they basically had in June of last year. One year of lost pay, for a deal you already had a year ago. That, my friends, is the definition of suck.


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