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Alone Again Or... | Main | Golden State

April 06, 2002

Important Letter to SAG members

If you're a SAG member, please "read more" below, for an important letter from Richard Dreyfuss regarding the SAG/ATA agreement, which is currently being considered by the membership of the union.

I am completely opposed to the agreement, and could go on, at length, about what a bad deal this is for actors, and how my guild, under the current "leadership" is poised to blow it, yet again, but Richard says it much more clearly than I ever could.

From Richard Dreyfuss
(An open letter to SAG members)

A very bad idea.

For the past 18 months or so, I have been hoping for a satisfactory explanation of the ATA/SAG proposal to allow agents financial interests from outside sources.

Many agents who desire this proposal are our friends, allies, and associates, necessary and relied upon. Some are not. They are agents, not actors. Some are in our hearts. Many are not. Our ambitions merge, but are not one.

Almost without exception, I have yet to meet anyone who thinks this is a good idea outside the ATA, and some members of SAG. From actors, producers, studio executives to the higher-ups of the networks, even to senior members of the California State Legislature, I have found that most people feel that something is terribly wrong with this proposal.

The National Board approval is not reflective of anything close to the entire membership. It was a narrow vote and the divide in the Union is enormous. Yet, it's as if we're all on some roller coaster, careening out of control, towards some inevitable passing of this thing.

I believed that the proposal was important enough to merit a public airing, a presentation by the ATA, so that SAG members would understand this fundamental change in how we do business, but the ATA would not agree to do it. We now find ourselves at the mercy of factions within the Guild itself, which have polarized and personalized this subject beyond reason. Not only is the rancor within the Guild killing the respect we have enjoyed as a union, the vitriol and contempt is so loud it is making it impossible to understand the issue.

I am against this proposal because it would clearly be a conflict of interest. True, there have been conflicts of interest before, and we've lived with them for years; but they have never been institutionalized, as they would be now.

In a perfect world Disney and ABC should not be the same corporation, nor should AOL, Time Magazine and Warner Bros. These are conflicts of interest, which we pretend not to see. The ATA proposal to the Screen Actors Guild is one of them.

The 'safeguards' this proposal is offering are paper-thin. Having someone appointed by the agents to scrutinize their own conflict of interest is neither logical, nor reflective of the real world. Giving us the power to leave our agent if we feel he is guilty of some misconduct is not what I consider a 'choice'. So-called firewalls that would make sure the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing are unrealistic to say the least.

Any actor represented by, say, William Morris, CAA or ICM today may not be tomorrow. Few actors have relationships with agents that are 40, 30, 20 years or even 10 years old. Such relationships are more flighty than that, with both sides dropping each other at whim. We are confusing loyalty to an individual agent with loyalty to his corporation. We are being told that if ICM or WMA or CAA or all of them decide to strike out without the franchise, we actors would ultimately have to choose between our agent and our guild.

When I first heard an actor say that, I was staggered. One might be loyal to an agent, who nurtured him and helped his career, but what if that agent died? What if he sold out or retired?

You shouldn't be forced to choose between your agent and the union that has protected you and guaranteed you benefits and working conditions for 75 years. The sky is not falling. The apocalypse is not upon us. This isn't the right deal.

Please vote against this proposal.

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Posted by wil at April 6, 2002 05:49 PM


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