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LA Times: Fierce infighting at a pivotal time for SAG

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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 11:31 PM
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LA Times: Fierce infighting at a pivotal time for SAG,0...

The Screen Actors Guild has a long history of conflict, but experts say the state of the union is now more perilous than ever. Labor watchers say a dramatic structural makeover is urgently needed.

By Richard Verrier
January 25, 2009

This evening, hundreds of stars will line the Shrine Auditorium to toast their peers in the 15th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Behind the showbiz glitz and glamour, however, an ugly boardroom drama has paralyzed Hollywood's largest union, founded in 1933 when veteran character actor Ralph Morgan and other actors rebelled against an exploitative studio system.

The notoriously fractious guild has a colorful history of infighting. SAG members still debate whether onetime guild president Ronald Reagan and his allies shortchanged members when the union accepted a compromise from the studios that would pay residuals only for movies made after Jan. 31, 1960.

But the latest brawling between moderate and hard-line factions on the board over the guild's strategy and leadership has startled even veteran labor watchers and severely damaged SAG's standing.

"You have to really go back to the post-World War II period to find something that's even close to what we're seeing now at SAG," said Dan Mitchell, a professor of management and public policy at UCLA, referring to the fierce ideological battles that divided Hollywood's unions and contributed to the blacklisting of actors in the late 1940s and 1950s.

The conflict has spilled over into tonight's SAG Awards. A widely circulated anonymous e-mail forwarded by board member and "Titanic" actress Frances Fisher called on SAG members to withhold their votes for eight actors who are up for SAG awards -- including Josh Brolin, Steve Carell and Sally Field -- for their opposition to a planned strike-authorization vote. That prompted former SAG President Richard Masur to compare the action to the blacklist of the 1950s.

FULL story at link.

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