Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pilot Season 94% AFTRA

66 out of 70 TV pilots this year will be shot under AFTRA jurisdiction, reports the Hollywood Reporter today. That’s 94% for AFTRA and only 6% for SAG. Meanwhile, I’ve been told somewhat different numbers that calculate out to about 87% AFTRA. Either way, it’s a 180 from typical figures, as I’m told that AFTRA typically has 10% or fewer pilots.

Who’s to credit for this development? Primarily Membership First, the SAG hardline faction whose obstructionism over the last year has also led to SAG members working under 2007-2008 rates, while AFTRA members have enjoyed a 3.5% raise since June 30 of last year. The pilot flip-flop is also due to the cost advantages of digital production as opposed to film, but the SAG hardliners’ tactics have clearly accelerated the transition, and the studios are unlikely to turn back in years to come.

It’s ironic that Membership First, whose partisans generally hate AFTRA, has turned out to be one of the best things to have happened to that union in a long time. By holding out for the best deal imaginable, rather than the best deal achievable, MF boosted its rival.

Now SAG’s new management is left with seven expired (or, in one case, nearly expired) contracts, as well as TV/theatrical negotiations so stale that contract expiration date has become a major issue. Cleaning up MF’s mess will be a tall order: not only have the hard-liners driven pilots (and thus series) away, they’ve educated the industry that it can function without SAG, at least in TV. Nick Counter, the retiring head of the AMPTP (studio alliance), could scarcely have asked for a better going away present.


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  1. The pilot flip-flop is also due to the cost advantages of digital production as opposed to film ...

    But isn't that (a big) part of the point -- the degree to which the MFers' "leadership" has hurt SAG's chances of organizing new media?

  2. The fact that AFTRA falsely asserts jurisdiction in TV, is based on the "method of capture", is what allows them to compete with SAG and steal jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is supposed to be based on the product produced. Scripted "television motion pictures" are SAG's exclusive jurisdiction. The fact that scripted shows are made with a different device, is immaterial.

    AFTRA has usurped the wishes of actors. That is why so many actors hate AFTRA. Actors don't want AFTRA as their collective bargaining agent. The studios do.