While most of the civilized world enjoyed an early-spring weekend about town, SAG president and press warlord Alan Rosenberg practiced his saber-rattling in anticipation of upcoming labor negotiations with the studios. Despite reaching out to AFTRA to rejoin them in talks starting tomorrow, such token detente couldn't mitigate Rosenberg's resistance pledged against everyone from mutinous actors like Kevin Bacon and Charlie Sheen to penny-pinching producers. And at least one high-powered, face-saving source is urging the union to stand down or face certain doom.
How does Rosenberg keep it all straight? The same way we do: One enemy at a time.
Take the rebel sect of SAG members including Bacon, Sheen, Sally Field and nearly 1,500 others, who last week petitioned leadership for "qualified voting" — kind of an Animal Farm-lite approach that would consolidate power among members who work more regularly than others. Variety's Dave McNary notes the proposal would likely have lessened the chance for a strike when the contract runs out June 30, and indeed, Rosenberg and Co. barely acknowledged the petition before passing it to what one dissenter called "the committee where things go die."
The SAG boss sought additional leverage over the weekend with a letter to his general membership, laying down the hard line for the negotiations launching Tuesday. Stop us if you've heard this one before:
"We have to negotiate fair payments for all new media formats to help us expand opportunities for middle class actors to get more work, just as the employers are expanding their opportunities to earn even more revenue," Rosenberg said. "We simply can't wait until this boat has sailed. We need to be on the boat—and it's leaving now."
Hence tomorrow's big march to the Port of Los Angeles, right? Well, not really. Both the DGA and striking WGA agreed in February that this "new media boat" was moored enough to settle for something a little less: Regular voyages through the studios' books as new media revenues take shape. Of course, the AMPTP has already put its own foot down emphasizing that's all SAG will get, and even big-shot attorney and DGA adviser Ken Ziffren came out with his own warning for Rosenberg:
"It's better right now to have access to the information that's needed to try to track the new-media industries and their business patterns. ... If the other guilds can understand that concept, then we can get back to work again in full force and follow the trends that the industry may take in new media. And so that is, to me, the major short-term issue and hopefully that will get resolved before June 30, or long before, if possible."
Translation: Please don't embarrass us in front of our membership by negotiating something juicier.
Anyway, assuming AFTRA doesn't come back to the table with SAG, we'd think Rosenberg would settle before AFTRA sits down with the studios April 28. Sure, he'll lose a whole two months of barking about a strike in the press, but it's either that or, as we mentioned a few weeks back, watch AFTRA usurp a share of SAG influence on the job market. And we doubt anyone at SAG wants to see that boat sail.