Wednesday, February 11, 2009

SAG-AMPTP Negotiations Still on Despite Lawyers’ Threat

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.

Rosenberg’s suit objects to the written assent and requires instead that those actions—firing the previous National Executive Director (Doug Allen) and replacing the negotiating team—must be done in a meeting in order to be valid. Now that those actions have in fact been taken in an actual meeting as well (this time without a 28-hour filibuster), the suit would appear to be moot, but MembershipFirst can be expected to continue their efforts both inside and outside the courtroom.

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 Rosenberg’s lawyers is below.


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February 6, 2009


Producer Negotiating Committee Chairperson

Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers

15301 Ventura Blvd.

Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

Phone: ___________

Fax: _____________

Re: Rosenberg, et al v. Arkin, et al.

Los Angeles Superior Court, Case No. BC 406 900

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.


  1. Does that letter actually misidentify the contract being negotiated with the AMPTP as the "commercial" contract?

  2. After all the errors, and smackdowns, leading up to and including this letter, the final and FUNNIEST thing is the last sentence inviting the AMPTP to contact Mr. George if they have any questions.

    He can't get anything right, but hell, let's call him.

  3. Mandamus relief is not available here.

    The only thing that has happened so far is a denial of an application for TRO and OSC re preliminary injunction. Denial of injunctive relief is appealable. Accordingly, under section 1086 of the Code of Civil Procedure, mandamus relief is not available, because mandamus is only available in "cases where there is not a plain, speedy, and adequate remedy, in the ordinary course of law." An appeal is deemed to be a "plain, speedy, and adequate remedy," hence no mandamus relief.


  4. By the way, this case has been assigned for all purposes to Hon. Malcom Mackey in Department 55. There is a Case Management Conference set for 8:30 AM on May 4, 2009 in this department.