Breaking News: Screen Actors Guild vetting new CEO

EXCLUSIVE: In an announcement that could come as early as next week, Santa Clara University School of Law professor Steve Diamond is being vetted as a candidate to replace fired Screen Actors Guild CEO and National Executive Director, Greg Hessinger.

Diamond is a Yale Law grad who spent his early years as an attorney in New York and Palo Alto, dealing mostly in corporate finance. Prior to entering graduate school and law school, Diamond “was on the staff of the Center for Labor Research and Education at U.C. Berkeley where he worked closely with labor unions on a variety of issues,” per Santa Clara University’s website.

Diamond, if he clears the hurdle of SAG’s contentious national board, would make a particularly interesting CEO: A chief executive who’s as familiar with both practical nuts-and-bolts topics like corporate finance and governance as with larger issues, like globalization.

Of course, Diamond’s candidacy isn’t yet a slam dunk, but Guild insiders say that previous candidates, which include termed-out State Senator Kevin Murray and former Assistant Chief of the LAPD, David Gascon have all fizzled out. There was even some talk of bringing the Teamsters Local 399 business agent Steve Dayan, but that has stopped too, these insiders say.

SAG’s relationship between elected leadership and its staff executives has been tumultuous at best: In February, the actors union reached a settlement with former CEO Hessinger, who was fired just five months into a four-year deal.

His predecessor, Bob Pisano, joined the guild on Sept. 11th, 2001 – an inauspicious start date that would more or less set the tenor of his time there as fraught. In his three year term as CEO, Pisano would survive three separate “no confidence” votes by SAG’s fractious Hollywood board. During the third attempt to oust him, Pisano decried a union culture in which “arrogant, belligerent and obstructive conduct is regarded as acceptable, even desirable, behavior by people who call themselves leaders” and where “accomplishments are measured by trees felled rather than trees planted.”

Of course, the old joke about academia is that the disputes are so vicious because so little is at stake; as a mostly career academician, Diamond will likely fit right in at SAG.