Is this finally the beginning of the end of Hollywood’s ongoing labor troubles? On Monday, moderate members of the Screen Actors Guild national board managed to oust Doug Allen, the union’s controversial national executive director and chief negotiator. The moderates, who enjoy a slim majority on the board, also broke up the negotiating committee and put a task force in its place – a development that could mean an end to the stalled talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. In response, the union appointed David White, a former guild general counsel, to replace Allen as interim national executive director, while John T. McGuire, a longtime guild senior adviser, will assume the role as chief negotiator.
“This is a difficult time for SAG and a particularly challenging period for working actors,” said White in a statement released by SAG. “I am deeply committed to the guild and its members and I believe that, working with the national board, we can help guide this transition.”
The actors have been working without a contract since June and Hollywood has been in limbo ever since, especially given the threats by Allen and SAG President Alan Rosenberg to seek a strike authorization vote from paid-up members. The vote was supposed to occur last week, but SAG ended up doing nothing. Instead, word surfaced that Allen was considering whether to just ask members to consider the latest (and apparently, final) offer from the conglomerates.
Fortunately, the union got to be the bearer of good news Sunday at its annual Screen Actors Guild Awards celebration in Hollywood, though the labor negotiations did manage to seep into the conversation. While collecting one of two awards for 30 Rock, creator and star Tina Fey joked about an ongoing thorn in SAG’s side – namely, the lack of Internet residuals. “I want to thank [my daughter] for her patience,” she said. “Some day she’ll be old enough to watch 30 Rock reruns on the Internet and understand where mommy was going at 6 a.m. every day for all that time. And she’ll look up at me and say, ‘What do you mean you don’t get residuals for this?’”