An AMPTP (studio alliance) spokesman confirmed to me today that negotiations between the studios and SAG are still on for next Tuesday and Wednesday, as previously announced, despite a threat from SAG President Alan Rosenberg’s lawyers that any deal reached would be null, void and not binding on SAG members.
That threat, which was contained in a letter Friday that came to light yesterday, arises out the lawsuit filed by Rosenberg and his fellow MembershipFirst plaintiffs 1st VP Anne-Marie-Johnson and board members Diane Ladd and Kent McCord against their own union. To date, the suit has gotten no traction, with a judge denying the plaintiffs’ request for an injunction that would have prevented the negotiations. So, Rosenberg and his allies attempted to obtain via a threatening letter what they haven’t gotten via a lawsuit. That effort too appears to be unsuccessful.
Although the letter indicates that the plaintiffs are appealing the denial, the appeal is likely to face tough going. Its chances were further diminished by SAG’s do-over this past weekend, in which the Board re-affirmed in a meeting the actions it had taken in a written assent document.
One thing that no doubt will interrupt the SAG-AMPTP negotiations is the SAG-JPC negotiations over the commercials contract. Those are scheduled to commence Monday, February 23, meaning that the two sets of negotiations will have to compete for SAG staff attention. The chief negotiator, in particular, is the same staff member for both contracts (John McGuire), whereas the other members of the negotiating team are SAG members and are different for the two contracts.
The text of the letter from
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BROWNE WOODS GEORGE LLP
February 6, 2009
VIA FACSIMILE AND
Producer Negotiating Committee Chairperson
Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers
To Whom It May Concem:
This firm represents Alan Rosenberg, Anne-Marie Johnson, Diane Ladd and Kent McCord (collectively, the "Directors"), officers and/or directors of the National Board of Directors and members of the Screen Actors Guild ("SAG"). This letter follows up on the previous notice provided to the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers ("AMPTP"), dated February 2, 2009, provided by Ms. Johnson and Mr. Rosenberg, and dated February 3, 2009, provided by this office.
Please be advised that on February 6, 2009, the Directors filed a Notice of Appeal in the above-referenced matter to seek review of the order issued by the Honorable James C. Chalfant denying the Directors' application for a temporary restraining order against SAG. Please be further advised that the Directors intend to immediately file a writ of mandamus with the Court of Appeal seeking the relief requested in their ex parte application, to wit, the issuance of a temporary restraining order against SAG to enjoin it, or any person or entity acting in concert with, at its direction or on its behest, from taking any action pursuant to the “written assent” dated on or about January 26, 2009.
We are informed and believe that the AMPTP has issued an invitation to SAG to meet on February 16 and 17,2009 to resume negotiations over the new commercial contract Until such time as these matters are addressed and resolved lawfully by the courts, be further advised that any agreements or understandings which the new Chief Negotiator or Negotiation Taskforce may proffer or accept are null and void, without force of law or of your membership, and not binding on the artists represented by SAG.
If you should have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the undersigned.
Eric M. George
Cc: Mr. John T. McGuire
David White, Esq.
Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, Esq.
Vincent F. Pitta, Esq.
Barry Salzman, Esq.
Sonia Y. Lee, Esq.
Keith Wesley, Esq.