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Discussion in 'TV Show Talk' started by phrelin, Mar 30, 2008.
It appears we face more labor strife affecting our favorite TV shows.:nono:
From the LA Times:
Could also lead to us viewers towards choosing an alternate entertainment source ..
Virtually all episodics, sit coms and films are SAG jurisdiction. AFTRA covers the soaps, talk shows, news, radio programming and a few sitcoms. Even if AFTRA were to strike, I don't think it would be as devastating to programming as the WGA strike. Odd, though, that AFTRA won't negotiate along with SAG. For the last 25 years or so, the two guilds have been moving closer and closer to merger.
Good, let 'em strike.
OH NO!!! More REALITY TV!!:nono:
Turner Classic Movie Marathon!!!!
No NO NO NO NO NO NOOOOOO!!!
I can't deal with the prospect of more reality shows:
"Dancing with people you've never heard of"
"Survivor: Manhattan: we're running out of exotic islands, sorry"
"The Simple Life: Paris & Britney - new BFFs"
"The Apprentice: Find Donald a new hairstyle."
I vote they hire you as a comedy writer!! That was hilarious. :hurah:
Maybe it's time to let some new actors and writers have a chance, bring on the scabs
The Yahoo news article that I read said that the AMPTP issued a statement saying that it looks forward to bargaining with AFTRA. They didn't mention SAG. That doesn't look good.
Could it be that the AFTRA members suffered more during the last strike? SAG probabley wants to much which would result in a long strike which AFTRA does not want. Or could it be the other way around. At any rate, they have enough differences to cause the split.
I could be wrong, but I think the SAG membership has deeper pockets than the average AFTRA member. IMHO
It's been a long time since I've been in the business, but I don't recall very much of difference between what AFTRA and SAG wanted out of the producers, particularly considering that virtually all actors are members of both guilds (great when you qualified for insurance with both, lousy when you had to pay dues to both ).
BTW, reality shows are almost all AFTRA. I also wouldn't read anything into the statement from the producers about looking forward to negotiating with AFTRA. It simply means they'll sit down with both separately -- and why wouldn't they? It's an opportunity to play one guild off against the other. I'd like to know more about the reasons responsible for AFTRA's decision.
I really have no knowledge of the relationship between AFTRA and SAG.
I just found it interesting they didn't mention SAG, almost as if the AMPTP was snubbing them. But it probably is more of them setting it up to try and play one side against the other.
First of all, SAG and AFTRA are both guilds, not unions (as they'll tell you constantly when you're a member). The difference is that unions have hiring halls and assist members in getting work. Neither AFTRA nor SAG do -- they exist exclusively to protect the interests of working actors, i.e. the wealthier and more successful performers. When I was working in the industry (about 20 years ago), 95% of SAG members made less than $10,000 / year acting, but still paid 98% of the costs of running the guild through dues and compulsory contributions by producers to the pension and welfare fund. In any given year, more than 90% of the membership didn't work at all. I doubt if things have changed much.
Originally, AFTRA and SAG covered completely different jurisdictions. AFTRA covered "television and radio," whereas SAG covered film. SAG is the older guild, dating back, if I recall correctly, to the 30s and the "White Rats" who first organized actors in the days of studio moguls and contract players. As Hollywood developed, there was more and more overlap -- filmed television shows were usually (but not always) done under SAG agreements, whereas live television, videotaped shows and radio was, almost always, done under AFTRA. Eventually, it was less a function of where the final product was shown, or even the medium in which it was recorded, and more a function of the agreement entered into by the studio at which a project was shot. I remember doing a couple of filmed sitcoms that were done under AFTRA because they were shot at a studio that had an AFTRA agreement, and I also did an MOW (movie of the week) for PBS under a SAG contract.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, virtually all actors in LA (and many in NY) are members of both guilds. The guilds also have a reciprocal agreement (and this includes AEA -- Actor's Equity, the stage guild) that lets you join the other sister guilds once you've worked in one. SAG and Equity are closed guilds -- you can't join unless you're cast in a SAG or Equity production. Of course, the Catch 22 for beginning actors is that no one will cast you unless you're already a guild member (and, as I recall, producers had to pay a fee for casting non-union talent to get them into the guilds). Agents, also, wouldn't touch you if you weren't union and, at least today, it's almost impossible to get work without an agent (though, for a short period of time in the 80s, I helped to change that in Hollywood, but that's another and much longer story).
For a long time, the loophole for new actors was that, unlike SAG and Equity, AFTRA was completely open -- you didn't need to be cast in an AFTRA production to join, you only needed to pay your initiation and you were in (it may still be open, I'm not sure). Many of us bought our way into AFTRA and found ways to "work" under an AFTRA contract, thereby qualifying us for membership in SAG (half-initiation). As I recall, Equity work also qualified you for membership in SAG, and vice versa.
Because the nature of the work, as well as the membership of AFTRA and SAG, are, for all intents and purposes, identical, there has long been an impetus for the two guilds to merge. Back when I was active, merger was "imminent." Some 20-25 years later, the merger discussions are, as far as I know, still on-going. My recollection was that some time ago, SAG and SEG (the Screen Extras Guild) merged. This was rather controversial because extras are not actors (both practically and as a matter of the MBA, the Minimum Basic Agreement between the guilds and the producers). No actor would ever knowingly admit to doing extra work, which was regarded as "living set dressing" -- actors were artists, whereas extras were people who owned a tuxedo. Actors were directed by the director. Extras were told what to do by the Assistant Director and never, ever spoke a line; if an extra was given direction by the director, they were actually promoted into SAG -- directors would take great care not to make that mistake (one of my friends got her SAG card this way when she did extra work on a sitcom, the casting director had failed to cast a one-line part, and the director picked her out of the crowd to say the line). Actors had private dressing rooms. Extras changed in public spaces. On location, actors were given catered meals. Extras either weren't or ate somewhere else (I don't know where they ate, but never with us). Actors never had to stand on the set for lighting and camera blocking -- stand-ins were used. Extras always had to stay on the set. And so on.
When I was acting, I would never have considered working as an extra, and would have been insulted if someone asked me if I had. Because of the stigma attached to extra work, as well as the fact that every SEG member would become "qualified" to work as a SAG actor, the merger was extremely controversial -- far more so than the proposed AFTRA/SAG merger.
My guess is that AFTRA and SAG haven't merged because too many guild officials have too much vested interest in keeping their positions of power -- the mechanical problems of harmonizing the pension and health plans, etc., are easily reconciled.
I hope this helps to answer your question.
Um...I didn't actually ask a question. But I enjoyed the history lesson nonetheless. Thanks.
The real question is...where can we see your acting work?
PTravel, do you have a blog or some kind of write-up on your experience in the industry? I find your writing on the subject very entertaining and informative
Great mother of moses. Jiminy Christmas. These people are just BEGGING people to find something better to do than watch TV, aren't they?
I'm sure it's re-run somewhere but, believe me, you wouldn't be impressed.
I don't. This was a long, long time ago. I quit acting to become a lawyer -- the last professional job I did was an ill-fated pilot with Eva Gabor in, I think, 1990 (during my first year of law school). True story: my study group partner in law school was Barry Gordon who, at the time, was president of SAG while we were in law school together. That says a lot, I think, about both acting and the legal profession.
Well, as much as I don't want a strike, it would give me the opportunity to catch up on a LOT of DVDs that I still have shrink-wrapped! :lol: