Tuesday, January 13, 2009

SAG Board Meeting Grinds On Into the Night

The SAG National Board meeting, which began about 9:00 a.m. Monday morning, apparently continues as of this hour, 3:45 a.m. Tuesday, or more than 18 hours later. I left the site of the meeting, SAG’s LA headquarters at about 2:00 a.m. As I left, food arrived, suggesting more long hours for the sleep-deprived board, including the jet-lagged New Yorkers and regional (RBD) members. Since Tuesday’s session was scheduled to start at 9:00 a.m., and end as a “hard out” (i.e., firm deadline) at 1:00 p.m., they’ll probably just continue straight through. Maybe they’ll dim the lights and doze off in their chairs.

The scene, it must be said, was a bit surreal. In the lobby, a few bored security guards and one or two other people hung out as janitors washed the floors under harsh lighting. Meanwhile, inside the James Cagney Room, the oversize SAG board – 71 people if all members attended or were represented by alternates – were holding an undoubtedly contentious meeting, accompanied by an unknown number of staff members. For portions of the meeting, the Board was in executive session, and National Executive Director Doug Allen was seen walking the lobby.

Earlier in the evening, there was drama out back of the building, where Board member Seymour Cassel enjoyed a cigar and told me (and, a few minutes earlier, Bloomberg, and, several hours earlier, Variety) that Allen had been ousted as Chief Negotiator (but not as NED). SAG 1st VP Anne-Marie Johnson caught sight of Cassel talking to me and furiously banged on a plate glass window to get his attention and draw him back inside.

That was not to last: less than an hour later, Cassel was back out again, this time complaining bitterly that his comments had been posted on the Internet (despite my having told him beforehand that I blogged for the Huffington Post and my own blog, jhandel.com), then walking quickly to the parking garage and apparently departing the scene.

In any case, a SAG spokeswoman disputed Cassel’s statement that Allen was out. Her denial was at first a bit vague, but was later explicit, telling me and a Bloomberg reporter that Allen had not been ousted and that no vote had been taken. Where things stand now inside the meeting room is unknown.

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