You’d think that a job that paid nothing, required exceptionally long hours, and forced you to preside over a bitterly divided constituency, most of whom were not earning a living, would go begging. But then, you probably live in the real world, and I’m talking about Hollywood.
Melissa Gilbert, child star of the 1970’s TV series “Little House On The Prairie,” soundly defeated Valerie Harper, best known as TV’s Rhoda, to become president of the Screen Actors Guild. In fact, Gilbert had already won the position a few months ago, but a radical Board of Directors, packed with Harper allies, decided that it was worth over $100,000 for the financially strapped union to hold another election. The board cited certain “irregularities” that made absolutely no difference in the outcome, and they knew it. They just wanted a second chance. Sound familiar?
The Harper faction got that second chance, and this time, Gilbert won by a much larger margin. Clearly, the members were disgusted.
You might recall the bitter six months long actors’ strike of 2000 (against advertisers), that helped no one, and only succeeded in driving a significant amount of production of not only commercials, but television and features as well, to Canada.
That strike was largely the brainchild of then president William Daniels, who somehow reasoned that he could bring advertisers to their knees. Instead, he forced them into the waiting arms of the Canadians, who were quite happy to accept the hundreds of millions of dollars in salaries, equipment rental and permit fees, and travel-related expenditures.
Of course, the name talent could afford the half-year break, and most of them didn’t work in commercials, anyway. However, the usual suspects still had to show their support for the rank and file (read starving) members.
Well-known pinkos, Susan Sarandon and, uh, partner Tim Robbins chimed in at a rally:
Said Sue, “The little guy is not going to roll over for corporate America.” In a sense, this was true, since the corporate advertisers simply moved the scene out of America, not giving the little guy a chance to roll over. In Sarandon’s case, as a big guy celeb, it was OK for her to roll out of her clothing for various features (for artistic purposes, natch), produced by corporate America. So she’s nothing if not consistent.
Added Tim, “I’m here to show solidarity with them (actor members of SAG) because I love them.” One must conclude, though, that he was talking about tough love.
As was reported by ABC’s John Stossel, starving actor Mario Barbieri was kicked out of SAG merely because he auditioned for a part, which he did not accept, once he found out that the strike was on. Meanwhile, Tiger Woods and Elizabeth Hurley, who actually made commercials during the strike, were given minor punishments.
To his credit, George Clooney came to the defense of Barbieri and other actors who shared his fate, but SAG replied, “These individuals conveyed a message that was contrary to the goals of the Guild.”
In his commentary, Stossel concluded by comparing Barbieri’s case to that of another actor. It seems that in 1989, she financed and starred in a non-union feature entitled Ice House–a cinematic stinker of some notoriety. Her name was Melissa Gilbert.
Surely you are not surprised by the outrageous hypocrisy, that can elevate one individual to the presidency of the same union that suspends for life another member guilty of a far lesser offense.
If SAG really did care about its members, it would be working non-stop to forge alliances and innovative dealings with the “corporate” interests that create the all too rare employment opportunities. What’s the point of establishing minimum labor rates and working conditions, when 95% of the membership doesn’t work, and a goodly percentage of those who DO work set their own?
Regrettably, those same little guys we always hear about are uniformly afraid to speak out on these issues, naively assuming that keeping quiet will improve their minuscule chances of catching a break.
No doubt, you have heard members of the Leftist-dominated movie industry railing about the so-called 1950’s Hollywood blacklist. Even by their own version of events, perhaps 100 people at most were affected. How many THOUSANDS of its brethren is SAG impacting in an extremely negative way right now?
I can’t decide what’s more pathetic: the way SAG treats its members, or the fact that so many with no prospects whatsoever are lined up, ready to pay their initiation fees ($1272.00) and first semi-annual basic dues ($50.00)–no checks accepted.