I took a press call tonight from Bloomberg who tell me Seymour Cassell confirmed to them outside the Board meeting that Doug Allen is out as Chief Negotiator but that a tense Executive Session of SAG continues at this hour.
[UPDATE: Bloomberg confirms in a second interview just now on Tuesday at about Noon that while the quote from Cassell was accurate that they now believe that no vote has been taken on Doug Allen’s tenure or duties at the Guild. They have not been able to reach Cassell for an explanation.
Meanwhile, a number of blog sources are reporting that a form of “filibustering” is underway by Membership First, even by those who do not particularly like Allen, in order to run out the clock. Of course, this solves very little and signals organizational stalemate that could lead to a dissolution of the Guild itself.
SAG is walking on very thin ice, in my view.]
Allen is apparently no longer inside the room. Cassell, I was told, did not appear too broken up about Allen’s shift in duties but was concerned that the situation was making a mess of the organization.
He may be right.
I will only say here what I said to Bloomberg: not making a clean break with Allen may only muddy the waters. Every organization needs clear lines of authority to function. And that is true of a union as well as a business organization. Take one example: SAG’s lawyers report to their NED. But if a new “chief negotiator” is brought in will he or she have to get into hassles with Doug Allen over the time needed by the chief negotiator from legal to support contract talks?
Perhaps SAG thinks this may save them some severance money for Allen. Presumably if he were fired outright as opposed to just changing his job duties he would have to be paid the remaining year on his 3 year deal, which would amount to $450,000 or so.
But he might argue that this step amounts to a “constructive discharge” and leave tomorrow and still claim his full severance.
In any case, assume he stays and continues to draw down his $450K salary, what “chief negotiator” or “Interim NED” worth his or her salt wouldn’t demand top drawer compensation to pull SAG’s chestnuts out of a fire? So SAG is caught either way.
Better to have the right team in place, and soon, than worry about what is likely to be small beer in comparison to the dollars in actors pockets currently on the line.
Still TBD: the fate of the SAV. I suggested it be suspended not outright rescinded until a new negotiating team can be assembled. Also, will SAG take me up on the suggestion that anti-SAV A-listers be asked to join that team? I think that is critical to the successful completion of the negotiations.
We’ll keep you posted as developments and new information warrant.