SAG Board Bounces Allen

LOS ANGELES It was hugs and kisses Sunday at the SAG Awards, but Monday morning brought out the knives.

Screen Actors Guild national executive director and chief negotiator Doug Allen was summarily removed from his posts by board members critical of his handling of the guild’s TV/theatrical contract negotiations.

The ousting of Allen virtually eliminates any possibility of an actors strike.

Moderate forces at the guild had long been gunning for Allen and essentially used an obscure guild procedure to show him the door.

Just 16 hours after the show, eight to 10 board members from the guild’s moderate majority, including reps from the L.A., New York and regional divisions, delivered to the guild’s general counsel at L.A. headquarters a constitutionally valid “written assent” that allowed them to pass a resolution outside of the boardroom with a simple majority.

Many of the reps stayed on hand until the counsel had given them a general assurance that everything was in order. Several hours later, once the guild’s counsel and director of governance confirmed its authenticity and validity as an official resolution, Allen and his board supporters were left with no further options.

Monday afternoon, Allen sent a farewell e-mail to staff members that indicated that he had acceded to the general counsel’s notification of his dismissal.

Among the other planks of the assent: replacing Allen with former SAG general counsel David White as interim national executive director; naming guild senior adviser John McGuire as chief negotiator for all contracts, including the TV/theatrical contract in negotiation; and replacing the TV/theatrical negotiating committee with a task force, which will represent the board of directors.

Alan Rosenberg remains president of the guild.

The swiftness of the move suggests just how impatient moderate forces had become with Allen and Rosenberg’s stalling tactics at an emergency board meeting two weeks ago. While the written assent provision of the constitution is often used for passage of mundane logistical issues, this is the first time a majority on the board has used it for such an important action.