First reports reaching me after SAG’s NYC Town Hall meeting tonight are that it consisted of the NY Division led by Sam Freed blasting SAG president Alan Rosenberg and executive director and chief negotiator Doug Allen. There were calls for both Rosenberg and Allen to resign. Alec Baldwin demanded that the current SAG negotiating committee voluntarily step down and allow new people to serve on the panel. And NY Division members sounded off against holding the Strike Authorization Vote and in favor of accepting the AMPTP’s June 30th “last” contract offer as is without further bargaining. “The sense of the meeting was that ‘the deal doesn’t look so bad’. And ‘the economy is terrible right now’. And ‘this is all SAG’s fault because the leaders didn’t merge with AFTRA’,” one attendee told me. “Because ‘New Media isn’t that important right now” and “in three years when all the unions are united we’ll be able to make up what we’ve lost’ on an assumption that IATSE, AFTRA, the DGA, WGA, and SAG ‘can all get together as one’. “
Said the source about what the majority of the speakers said, “This is such a horrible deal, but everyone else has taken it so we need to take it. And we know the economy will be better in three years.”
The NYC Town Hall was held in an even smaller venue than last week’s LA Town Hall; an estimated 250 to 300 people packed into the Westin Hotel. Again and again, the anti-SAG leadership statements were followed by applause.
I understand that SAG leaders had expected the “vocal and brutal” tone of the meeting. But they couldn’t respond fully to the accusations made against them because they were only given 2-minutes apiece to speak when questioned. Instead, Freed and the other NY Division members had unlimited time to state their case and speak their mind. “Basically anyone could say anything in any manner,” one attendee told me afterwards. “It was honest to the point of disrespectful.” Rosenberg and Allen were called, among other things, “liars”, “deceptors”, “inepts”, “AFTRA bashers”, “Hollywood centrics”, and “insensitive to concerns of NY brethren”. Freed specifically criticized and questioned the integrity and authenticity of Rosenberg and Allen.
When it was over, some members came up to the SAG leaders and apologized for the tone of the meeting. But the result was that the meeting succeeded in delivering a verbal thrashing to Rosenberg and Allen — as expected. “There was a lot of hate in that room, so much hate not seen in a long, long time,” one attendee told me. “There are huge philsophical differences between members across the country and between the NY and Hollywood divisions. This is historic. This is nothing new.”