« Bid for a Walk-on Role in 'Spider-Man 4' | Main | Living the Dream »

Don’t Cry (or Smoke) for Me, Alan Rosenberg

Strikewatch_blogCorrection appended.

You can’t write anything about politics—be it local, national, global, or within labor unions—without getting screwed. No matter how objective, truthful, you strive to be, one side or another (sometimes both) is going to accuse you of letting bias seep into your reporting. You know this ahead of time, so you just go in and do your best; quadruple-check that your quotes, facts, and numbers are indisputably correct; send your dazzling prose off to the brave copy editors and the senior editors with nice offices; and then wait for the angry emails, phone calls, carrier pigeons, etc., to roll in. And people wonder why journalists drink (and not the good stuff SAG’s switchboard operator can afford).

But as screwed as journalists may be, the politicians and the others who do the speechifying have it worse. I reckon it’s easy to go off-script, forgetting a little journo like me is in the room with her notepad and tape recorder amongst 95 of your closest, enthusiastic friends. Hell, a politician is bound to say something he (or she) might regret later during a historic speech before 40 million viewers  that could decide an election slightly more important than SAG’s. And, of course, that’s the moment we journalists live for.

 My spidey sense said it was such a moment last Saturday night  when Alan Rosenberg called Unite for Strength candidates and their supporters on the New York and regional branch boards lying liars who are always lying. Actually, what he said was, “If you stop telling lies about us, we'll stop telling the truth about you. And that’s what people want to say to these people in New York, people in the regional branches, and people in this Unite for Strength party.”

It took a few days, but the response from the accused liars is in. Former New York board president Paul Christie and current NY recording secretary Sue-Anne Morrow emailed me this:

 “SAG president Alan Rosenberg’s statements…in a recent Back Stage article were grossly irresponsible and make two things abundantly clear: He has no respect for any SAG member who disagrees with the increasingly destructive agenda of Membership First, and his perspective on the nationwide dissent against Membership First is as delusional as his perspective on our ‘phenomenal’ TV/theatrical negotiations which continue to go nowhere. Those of us who were elected in New York to serve SAG’s membership were alarmed by the tone and content of Mr. Rosenberg’s statements, and we question his ability to represent our entire, national union in our currently stalled TV/theatrical negotiations.”

A clear, strong statement—just like I like them. But I’m surprised that was the only statement of Rosenberg’s the New Yorkers have officially taken umbrage with. I also haven’t received any statements from UFS regarding Rosenberg’s quotes such as, “To elect people who have never been near this union, never served on a committee, know nothing about negotiations, and to replace valuable people…it would be absolutely a tragedy.” Or his punning their party’s name into “Divide for Weakness.”

Ned Vaughn was brief and careful about how he responded when I asked him for comment directly and he didn’t mention any back-biting during Wednesday’s interview with Jonathan Handel.  It’s a good tactic for a candidate, if you ask me. He chose to address Membership First’s agenda and its record during its reign rather than address Rosenberg’s comments. But will SAG members take his reserve as fear or as a classy choice not to answer insults with more insults? What would Barack (or Hillary) do?

In any case, I feel for Rosenberg today because—of course—readers are emailing me to inform me how uninformed I am. I’d share a smoke with him outside 5757 Wilshire, if only I hadn’t given up my Camel Lights many years ago. It's a shame that hypnosis didn't work:


Y’all have been respectful, which I appreciate. A Membership First supporter wrote, “I guess your article was fairly balanced. The truth is, there’s a lot of detail to this whole Hatfield-McCoy feud, and the passions run deep.” This was followed by almost 1,800 words chronicling the history of this feud—a good assessment of the current situation but obviously from a decidedly pro–Membership First POV.

I agree that these issues run deep and emotions are high on both sides—no “guess” about it. But how can I encapsulate years of merger referendums, NED misdoings, votes gone wrong (or right, depending on whom you ask), and vitriolic back and forth in every article? How can I even do justice to all of the heated pro-con emails and letters that are crossing my desk now—especially when they tend to be on the lengthy side?

This is where the Internet is a great thing. Rather than email me (which I do, in all seriousness, appreciate and encourage), feel free to drop some comments in the comments section below. Why go through the middleman (or -woman), who—as we all know—is already screwed?

--Lauren Horwitch

PS:  Have a great Labor Day! Why no SAG Labor Day picnic this year, btw? Or did my invitation just get lost in the mail?

I’m going to spend it not thinking about labor unions for a whole 24 hours and I hope you’ll do the same.

UPDATE!: A devoted reader tells me there is a SAG Labor Day picnic in Hollywood! Man, it's like high school all over again.

Dig This


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Don’t Cry (or Smoke) for Me, Alan Rosenberg:


The comments to this entry are closed.