I’m told that the studios are playing new games with SAG. One example: Sony’s Columbia Pictures have sent some SAG actors on Day Player contracts only 1/2 scale payments for their work on Judd Apatow’s The Year One feature. Not only were the payments a month late. But “there is no such thing as 1/2 scale day rate,” one of my insiders says. “Theyre just playing games with actors’ paychecks. Perhaps to keep more money in the bank. Or to show that SAG has no leverage.” I hear that when the union called Columbia on it, the reply is merely, “We’re looking into it,” for weeks with no fix. Oh, and when “mistakes” are made with SAG actors’ pay and a claim is filed via the union, I’m told Columbia (and other studios) stall further by only allowing senior labor relations staff to approve payment. Which means that, if a studio is involved in a contract negotiation with ANY union, no Columbia/Sony exec is making sure the actors are being paid in accordance with the current collective agreement. “It’s the same with background actors’ small claims. Disgusting,” my source says. Then again, Sony Pictures Entertainment boss Michael Lynton is led around on a leash by his labor relations people.
UPDATE: Sony tells me, “Neither our production nor our labor offices are aware of any such claims. However, we are happy to receive any specific information about this so it could be reviewed and dealt with, if there is such an issue.”
But one of my sources remarks, “I know for a fact the production staff is aware of at least three claims regarding 1/2 scale payments. But I imagine the checks will magically appear in SAG’s office tomorrow morning after your coverage tonight. It sucks that the studios would put middle class day player performers in a situation where they have to beg for their own scale (minimum wage) paycheck. They know what they’re doing. It’s just a big game of chicken and, unless the actor is brave enough to fight it, they almost always lose. Not many want to risk hurting their careers to say anything. That’s why we’re supposed to have a union with enough clout that the studios won’t try these shenanigans in the first place.”