UPDATED 11:30 PM FRIDAY
The cloudy picture surrounding the “total support” email story is beginning to clear. A SAG board and Membership First member, Susan Savage, sent out an email this week attacking the recently completed AFTRA deal with the AMPTP. Savage alleged that SAG had the “total support” of A-listers Tom Hanks and George Clooney and she implied that the two also would back SAG’s campaign to sink the AFTRA deal.
Not so. Hanks and Clooney quickly issued unequivocal denials that they had called SAG or expressed such support.
That left open the question of whether Hanks and Clooney had offered any support at all of the 2Allens – if so, that would have been very helpful to SAG as it re-entered negotiations this week given the pressure that the A-listers had put on the 2Allens in heated meetings earlier in the year.
It would have allowed SAG to return to the table with that very visible public support (recall how important public support was in the WGA Strike).
If SAG had said, publicly, look, we do not have a position one way or the other on the AFTRA deal and we support the right of AFTRA members to decide for themselves but we believe that we can make improvements on certain key issues of significance to our members so we intend to push for those AND we now have the backing of key A-list members.
That could have provided a critical shot in the arm to the bargaining, perhaps sufficient to have woken up the CEO’s to get off their butts and cut a fair deal.
It appears that no support at all had been expressed in recent days. Instead a call the 2 stars had made many weeks ago – long before the AFTRA deal was made – was now being stretched into support for the new anti-AFTRA campaign.
In fact, according to the LA Times, it was Guild President Alan Rosenberg who started Ms. Savage down this, in their words, “bumbling” road. Tonight the Times Richard Verrier reported:
Efforts to torpedo AFTRA’s contract got off to a bumbling start this week. SAG board member Susan Savage, an actress who has had roles on “Carnivale” and “Cold Case,” wrote an e-mail to actors asking them to “vote down this horrible deal.” She claimed that Hollywood heavyweights George Clooney and Tom Hanks called Rosenberg “directly to offer their total support.”
But that was news to both actors, who issued statements flatly refuting the claims.
“This is a hoax, not true, a complete fabrication,” Hanks said. Clooney said: “I have had no conversations with SAG concerning that issue.”…
Rosenberg said it [the misleading email from Savage] was all a misunderstanding. He said he told Savage only that Clooney had conveyed overall support for the leadership.
“I never meant to say or imply that Clooney was a supporter of our stance toward AFTRA,” Rosenberg said.
Instead of President Rosenberg taking full responsibility, Ms. Savage is being asked to fall on her sword – perhaps at some risk to her own reputation – and she sent out another email late today apologizing for her earlier email and thanking Hanks and Clooney for their support of “SAG in their negotiations.”
It is hard to ignore the irony here, folks: THE hot button issue for SAG/MF over the last few weeks has been the potential for the Producers to use clips without permission but here SAG/MG leaders appear to have appropriated without consent the names of two of the biggest in the business.