Last Action Hero?

Last Action Hero?

Half PintSometimes, you get up in the morning and, even before you can plug in a fresh I.V. of Yuban, you sense something alarming has happened.

You’ll notice your cat is supine, smoking a ‘j with the neighbors’ normally ill-tempered Labrador, who is himself ordering a pizza.

Or, maybe—as with this morning—it’s because the Screen Actors Guild has just replaced Half Pint with Alan Rosenberg as it’s 24th president.

In a move that surprised the hell out of me and lots of studio executives, Rosenberg edged out Morgan Fairchild to become The Actors’ 24th president — a win that Variety’s Dave McNary deadpans “is sure to cast storm clouds over future labor negotiations.”

McNary is using tactful understatement. Saying that Hollywood’s most high-profile union is getting militant is like saying Mama Cass enjoyed a hoagie every once in a while.


For the last few years, SAG has managed to secure only mediocre gains in pay for actors–gains made to look all the more modest when viewed in the context of studios greedily suckling at the bodacious, silvery teat of the DVD boom.

Notwithstanding the recent and embarrassing revenue shortfalls on Pixar’s “The Incredibles” and DreamWorks Animation’s “Shrek 2,” which has lead to an SEC probe the DVD business made a staggering $33 billion during 2004. It will probably shoot to $76.5 billion by 2009.

Rosenberg, backed by the enraged syphillitic monkeys of the union’s Membership First (translation: Mostly unemployed and itching to strike, or way too rich and able to strike) faction, promised disaffected thesps a taste of the DVD riches.

But how did Rosenberg defeat Fairchild and her Wisteria Lane candidacy?

In July, Gilbert and her SAG CEO pal Bob Pisano managed the biggest gain ever on the TV and film contract, but it only served to highlight how powerless the unions have been on the issue of DVD. Despite a $200 million increase over three years in minumum pay, the actors got nowhere on DVD revenue. Rather than embracing some folksy Clintonian frankness by, say, calling the recent TV and film contract “the best turd y’all could have hoped to have gotten out of these shit-assed producers,” Fairchild instead appeared to take a page from ex-beau John Kerry and instead pushed for putting “unity back in the union.”

This was to ignore history. Actors don’t want unity. They’re aggreived artists, and they always want blood. And more money.

SAG’s CEO Pisano left the Guild last spring under a cloud of spittle from Rosenberg’s Membership First crowd, who always believed his seat on the board of Netflix meant Pisano went home every night to jerk off to anti-union movies like “The Replacements,” instead of trying to get them their fair share of DVD riches.

Rosenberg says he’s going to “fight like hell” over the DVD issue.

What the actors really need is someone who’ll work like hell with other unions. In a conglomerate world of invulnerable Time Warners and Disneys, what’s needed is collaboration with those unions even more annoyed than the actors. Writers and directors usually get about nickel residual each from every $15 DVD, while actors get about 15 cents per disc.

Memo to Alan Rosenberg. Time for a lunch at The Grill with also-just-elected WGA West president Patric Verrone; you pay.