Welcome to today’s installment of “As the Guild Turns.”
David White, interim national executive director of the Screen Actors Guild, has called a special bicoastal national board meeting for Sunday. While the agenda is not officially disclosed, a self-described moderate faction of the guild is expected to use the forum to fire former SAG exec director Doug Allen.
For a second time.
SAG national president and Allen booster Alan Rosenberg essentially dared as much Tuesday, when he and three other guild officials attempted to file suit to nullify Allen’s previous firing by written assent. The unusual process used to oust Allen failed to heed various constitutional provisions, the plaintiffs charged in the legal action tossed on technical grounds.
The moderate faction — with members from New York, regional branches and the Hollywood-based party Unite for Strength — had tried just that at a Jan. 12-13 board meeting. But Rosenberg, first national vp Anne-Marie Johnson and MembershipFirst allies used parliamentary maneuvers during a 28-hour marathon meeting to keep the measure from coming to a vote.
So like Chief Justice Roberts administering the presidential oath to Barack Obama a second time, the moderate alliance is trying to tie up any loose ends.
By planning the meeting in New York and Los Angeles via video conference on Sunday, White is taking advantage of the presence of board members who will already be assembled on Saturday for a joint plenary with AFTRA to sign off on demands for looming commercials-contract negotiations.
Some moderates from SAG’s national board have urged Rosenberg, Johnson and two other plaintiffs in the suit against the guild — board members Kent McCord and Diane Ladd — be barred from the board meeting, but the plea appears a non-starter. Others have circulated an e-mail petition requesting Rosenberg’s and Johnson’s resignations.
For now, attention will be on California Superior Court, where plaintiffs today are expected to refile their amended complaint.
Judge James Chalfant on Tuesday dismissed their first attempt on procedural grounds. Among the reasons: the 41 name defendants — i.e., all the moderates that signed the written assent decree that fired Allen Jan. 26 — had not been served.
Rosenberg and the other plaintiffs are seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent Allen’s replacements — White and SAG senior adviser John McGuire, who took over Allen’s role as chief negotiator — from conducting guild business.
Rosenberg and Johnson notified the guild on Monday of their intent to seek a TRO and file suit. That forced the cancellation of planned negotiating sessions with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers — the first in more than two months.
Actors and producers have been locked in a stalemate over a new TV/film contract for seven months, with SAG members working under an expired contract since July 1. Frustrated with the situation, the moderates fired Allen and replaced the negotiating committee with a new, smaller task force, hoping to overcome perceived intransigence on issues surrounding new media and DVDs.
Meantime, if the judge grants a temporary restraining order today, White’s order to call a special meeting may no longer be valid, as it would strip him of the authority he was granted in the written assent. If the special meeting is allowed to proceed, the moderates hope to render Rosenberg’s legal action effectively moot.
Andrew Salomon of Back Stage also reported on this item.