« Tinsel Town Talkies | Main | Fine Print: Equity's Programs for New Performers »

'Rogue' Behavior

Lettertoeditor To the editor:

I am so upset with Lauren Horwitch's article ["What Actors Really Want," May 15], which supposes that 20 people chosen by her are somehow indicative of how a combined 200,000 members of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists think. Please. It portrays the AFTRA board as "rogues" and SAG as somehow the victim. It excludes a lot of the background on what has happened in the past year, most notably the damning letter from Doug Allen in Screen Actor magazine, which attacked erroneously the way AFTRA organizes work in basic cable.

The select few that were interviewed bought into that attack article lock, stock, and barrel. Since then, AFTRA has been defending itself effectively, yet you seem not to have read Kim Roberts Hedgpeth's article in AFTRA magazine that explains why we do what we do and the errors that were in the Doug Allen letter.

You don't even choose to mention that the decision to break off the Phase One agreement was based on a near-unanimous national board decision after we had arrived in Hollywood and had reason to believe that SAG tried to steal away one of our shows [the daytime drama The Bold and the Beautiful]. The Back Stage article comes across to me as biased, unfair, and reliant on people's opinions that are uninformed.

I remind you that AFTRA did not start this conflict. The last two merger attempts were voted up by AFTRA and turned down by SAG. The New York branch of SAG has sided with AFTRA in this battle, though they too have been sidelined by this Membership First group in Hollywood that is trying to disenfranchise AFTRA so that we will go away.

This fight is costing members thousands, maybe millions, of dollars, and you write an article that throws more fuel on the fire.

-- Mitchell McGuire

Mitchell McGuire is a member of the board of AFTRA's New York local and a contributor to Back Stage's Fine Print column.

Lauren Horwitch responds: Thanks for your letter, Mitch. The survey I conducted for that article was informal and wasn't presented as comprehensive or scientific. Here's how it worked: I sent an email to about 50 actors -- specifically, working actors with whom I've never discussed the unions. I did not know their union affiliations, but I did know that none of them serve on the boards of SAG or AFTRA.

In my email, I asked: What do you want the unions to achieve in these negotiations? Would you vote to give SAG strike authorization? Will the outcome of the talks affect you? Does the whole thing bore you?

I asked the actors to forward the email to their friends and colleagues. I also posted the questions on actor websites, message boards, and online groups. Therefore, I cannot calculate how many actors read the questions. By my deadline, I had received 20 responses. Each of the respondents gave his or her permission to be quoted in the article.

Obviously, the comments I received do not necessarily represent the views of all actors, but the majority of the respondents criticized AFTRA for leaving Phase One, and some also criticized SAG for being too aggressive with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Perhaps most telling, all the actors said they do not want to go through another strike if it can be avoided.

We cover the performers' unions in numerous articles both in Back Stage's print edition and on our website. Detailing the many events that led to AFTRA's exiting Phase One and the current state of the negotiations would have taken too much room in this article in which I wanted to focus on actors' opinions. Check out articles and blogs concerning the unions on our site.

Lauren Horwitch is the news editor of Back Stage West.

Dig This


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference 'Rogue' Behavior :


The comments to this entry are closed.