There's only so much ledge-prancing, saber-rattling, gun-pointing madness a person can get away with spinning in the press, and at a glance, anyway, it appears SAG national executive director Doug Allen may be faking the labor funk a little too aggressively. Now that his union's extended (and re-extended) negotiation period with the major studios is over, leaving AFTRA to step in and take everything it's offered no-questions-asked, Allen kvetched to Variety today that goddammit — they were so close! Like, just a few hours away! No, really. He actually said that:
"I think it's insanity that we're not able to finish our negotiations and that the unions are being pitted against each other," [Allen] told Daily Variety. "We ought to be able to figure out a way to do this together, particularly since we've done so much of the heavy lifting. It's in the best interests of the memberships." ...
Allen warned the majors at the end of Tuesday's talks that it would become more difficult to make a deal with SAG if the guild were pushed aside in favor of AFTRA. "We'll lose the momentum we have at negotiations, and members' positions will become more entrenched," he explained Wednesday.
Dragging your cross from the prop department to the conference room isn't quite what we'd call "heavy lifting," but we admire Allen's dramatic protestations nonetheless. Especially when Fox chief Peter Chernin was on his first-quarter earnings call across town, spinning himself into a lather over the "de facto actors strike" such SAG uncertainty implies:
"It is difficult for anyone to start a movie now," because a formal strike would interrupt it, he said on his company's earnings call following improved fiscal third-quarter earnings driven by strong TV results. "It's a really bad thing for the industry," especially after an "extremely devastating" writers strike, Chernin said.
Asked about producers' strategy in their AFTRA talks compared with SAG talks, he said they are not looking for quick deals with anyone group over another. Instead, "we seek fair deals for everyone," he added.