Mallory Goes to Washington
Today brings news that Justine Bateman -- best known to members of my generation as one of the first girls to wear a scrunchy on national TV -- will share her thoughts on "The Future of the Internet" with members of the Senate Commerce Committee in D.C. tomorrow. A less-SAG-savvy StrikeWatcher might not know Bateman's a SAG Hollywood and national board member aligned with the pro-Rosenberg, Membership First faction.
Yes, Mallory must have dumped Nick the Mechanic and gone to a liberal-arts college where a handsome young labor-law professor piqued her interest in union politics. Steven and Elyse were very proud; Alex P. was horrified. Or, perhaps more likely, Bateman has seen the industry change radically while working steadily for three decades under both SAG and AFTRA contracts. In fact, Interweb users can watch episodes of her current show, Men in Trees, for free on ABC.com without giving Justine or the other actors a dime. Not that Disney is making any money off those free downloads. Heavens to be! I must be hallucinating that Sprint banner at the top of the page.
It's worth noting that Bateman's become a controversial figure in the SAG-AFTRA war. Check out her strongly worded blog about What's Really Going on in SAG on UnitedHollywood.com. She didn't mince words, starting off by calling AFTRA "a scumbag union which has been poaching SAG jobs for years."
She continues laying out the case of AFTRA's unfair basic-cable contracts and the inequitable 50-50 split ensured by Phase One--no longer an issue now that Phase One isn't in effect for the time being. Bateman's even pissed that part of SAG members' dues go toward subsidizing shared office space with AFTRA--allegedly, of course.
Bateman wrote in conclusion, "I want AFTRA out of our backyard. They have destroyed an actors chances of earning a proper living on Basic Cable with their crappy contracts. And now they threaten us by saying they'll go into the AMPTP early and suggest they'll try to offer really cheap contracts for Prime Time TV AND FILM? Seriously?"
Naturally, Bateman's AFTRA-bashing blog set off a firestorm of debate on the reliably rancorous SAGActor.org message board -- some posters called her out for posting a "childish diatribe," others backed up her Membership First-ish opinions. One brave poster invited Bateman, "a stone babe who is aging like a fine wine" in his opinion, to a weekend in Montego Bay. I can't speak for Justine -- she might prefer a comfy D.C. hotel -- but hell, I could use a few days of sun, sand, and stimulating banter over 17-day residual windows.
Anyway, tomorrow I'll be in my shadowy cubicle mere blocks away from SAG Headquarters, waiting to hear if Bateman makes any reference to the on going guild talks and/or the writers strike. Patric Verrone will be sitting beside her, so it'll be pretty hard not to.