Bloomberg: Actors Guild Faction Moves to Oust Executive Director. – Now what?

I was interviewed for this story this morning, as events were unfolding.

But with SAG’s NED Doug Allen gone, speculation is already turning to whether and how the Actors will reach a deal with the AMPTP which has said its “last, best and final” offer is already on the table. The new majority is presuming, I think, that a change up in the deal team will lead to a quick settlement. 

Other comments from the blogosphere point out that John McGuire, a long time SAG advisor and former staffer who was once a possible NED himself, will assume the lead role in the negotiations and that that should help lead to a quick settlement.

That presumes the AMPTP hard liners do not have other ideas and that concessions on the new media template (which understandably SAG has opposed)  will cause the two sides to close the gap between them.

Actors Guild Faction Moves to Oust Executive Director (Update1) 

By Michael White

Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) — A Screen Actors Guild board faction moved to oust National Executive Director Doug Allen and replace him on an interim basis with former general counsel David White.

The “written assent” was signed by a majority of the divided union’s national board, the panel’s Unite for Strength faction said in an e-mailed statement today. Guild Senior Advisor John T. McGuire was appointed as chief negotiator, according to the statement.

The board is split over Allen’s handling of contract negotiations with Hollywood studios that have been stalled since June. Supporters used procedural maneuvers to prevent the majority from removing Allen from his negotiating role during a 28-hour meeting this month. Unite for Strength said his replacements will contact the studios to restart talks.

“The question is whether this will lead to a relatively quick resolution” of the contract stalemate, said Steve Diamond, a labor-law professor at Santa Clara University in California.

Guild spokeswoman Pam Greenwalt had no immediate comment.

The guild’s constitution allows for a simple majority of the board to act by written assent where there is no alternative, Diamond said.

The document was signed by all board members in Los Angeles except for those affiliated with Membership First, the faction that lost its majority in September, according to the e-mail. The measure received support from all but one member from union branches outside of Los Angeles.

Board Factions

Allen has backing from union President Alan Rosenberg and Los Angeles-based Membership First. The rift threatens to split the 120,000-member union.

During the Jan. 12-13 board meeting, Allen supporters used parliamentary tactics, including speeches and questions, to prevent a vote on Allen’s removal.

“The unrelenting obstruction by a minority of board members has left us no alternative” to using written assent to oust Allen, according to the Unite for Strength e-mail.

Jesse Hiestand, a spokesman for the studios’ Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, declined to comment. The group’s members include Walt Disney Co.News Corp., Viacom Inc., NBC Universal Inc., Sony Corp. and Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer Inc.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anthony Palazzo in Los Angeles at

Last Updated: January 26, 2009 16:22 EST