A provocative blog posting about the inner workings of the Screen Actors Guild leadership paints a bleak picture of just how split the actors’ union has become since its contract expired last June. According to Jonathan Handel, a former attorney for the Writers Guild who maintains the blog Digital Media Law while practicing entertainment law for TroyGould in Los Angeles, SAG president Alan Rosenberg gave an expletive-laced speech at a recent two-day meeting of the union’s national board that included threats like “you want a f–king civil war in this union? You do this, you will get a f–king civil war,” when moderate members attempted to oust SAG lead negotiator and national director Doug Allen.
In his blog, Handel writes that he spoke with numerous board members, not for attribution, about last week’s marathon meeting and learned that the union’s hard-liners prevented moderates from replacing the negotiating committee and re-opening negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers. Moderates also wanted Allen replaced. “Sources added that Rosenberg repeatedly threatened to have some of the moderates evicted, even calling for the on-site security guard to add muscle to his threat,” Handel writes. The attorney sought comment from Rosenberg for his blog but was denied. EW contacted a SAG spokeswoman Sunday and received this response: “The Screen Actors Guild, including staff, officers and board members, will not publicly comment on any subject, allegation and/or accusation regarding any situation, individual or event that may or may not have occurred during a meeting which took place in executive session.”
In the meantime, The New York Times reported on Friday that Allen sent a letter to the board suggesting that they send the current offer from the AMPTP to the membership for a vote rather than ask the actors to authorize a strike. The board was expected to send out ballots for a strike authorization on Jan. 14, but the divisiveness of the two-day meeting demonstrated to the hardliners that they may not get the approval of 75 percent of the paid-up members.