UPDATES AFTRA Re-Elects Prez Readon And OKs $300 Initiation Fee Hike

… It’s not supporting the effort to stop the closure of the long term and intensive care facilities at the Motion Picture And Television Fund. Today’s official AFTRA statement declared, “Convention delegates also expressed deep concern over the closure of the Motion Picture Television Fund’s long-term care and ICU facilities in Woodland Hills, Calif., and referred a resolution stating that concern to the AFTRA HRIC committee to investigate the circumstances of the closure.” But there is no timetable attached to that resolution. And AFTRA is under no obligation to expedite the issue. But that’s just part of the story. I’m told by insiders that in Chicago, the AFTRA leaders claimed they don’t know all of the facts and can’t really rely on SAG’s national position joining the protest. Also, AFTRA ignored the tens of thousands of AFTRA-SAG dual cardholders who rely on the home. Amazingly, the AFTRA leaders expressed the opinion that the home didn’t really impact them since they have never been invited to have a seat at the board. They even questioned if there have been any AFTRA members who have ever lived at the facility. One board member stood up in front of the meeting and stated that the MPF didn’t add the “T” until “15 years ago and that AFTRA members had been ignored”. Well, research shows that the MPF was referred to as the MPTF since 1967 — and some research states that it was referred to by its current name MPTF even before 1967. And the qualifications to be eligible to live at the facility is 20 years of showbiz work as a union member of talent unions and/or guilds, or a family member of a union member or employee, of AFTRA, Teamsters, IATSE, SAG, WGA, DGA. So AFTRA will remain quiet in this battle. Shameful.

…It’s not doing anything publicly to oppose the shuttering, relocating, or future shortening of daytime dramas whose actors and crews make up an important part of AFTRA membership. Unfortunately, AFTRA has claimed exclusive jurisdiction over soap opera actors, which is why the Guild’s inactivity on these matters is so bewildering. The final episode of TV’s longest running scripted series Guiding Light will be shown on CBS September 18th after 72 years on the air. Nor has AFTRA organized any efforts to find another home for Procter & Gamble’s Guiding Light, despite such a rich history on radio and then TV and such loyal fans. Here is the only public statement AFTRA has made on the GL shuttering, and it is a weak one:  “AFTRA applauds the cast and crew of Guiding Light — from our longtime star performers to the hundreds of stunt persons, dancers, and many background actors — who delighted radio and television audiences for more than 70 years and made Guiding Light the successful and beloved series it is. AFTRA is disappointed the program will no longer appear on CBS in its current format, but pleased to hear that there is ongoing consideration for continuing Guiding Light in other media. Over the decades, members from Guiding Light casts have been among the stalwart union leaders to serve on various AFTRA committees — including Wages and Working Conditions and negotiations —to improve the lives of their fellow daytime drama performers as the genre has evolved. AFTRA is working to ensure every Guiding Light actor receives all the protections of their union contract, both now and after the show concludes its run on CBS. To the extent this program is produced in other media, we look forward to continuing to provide AFTRA contract protections to actors in the next incarnation of Guiding Light.”

…AFTRA also remained inactive this past week when ABC Entertainment, after multiple denials, finally announced that All My Children is moving from NY to LA which will idloscate many actors and other workers on the show. Meanwhile, ABC also  is denying rumors that, if it adds The Aisha Tyler Show (already okayed for a pilot) to its daytime line-up, the network may trim two of its daytime soaps to a half-hour each. AFTRA has provided no public updates on any of these soap developments.

… And, finally, it’s mucking up the issue of merger with SAG. Roberta Reardon stated, “It’s either all of us or none of us”, thus setting up her opposition to any attempts to put all actors under the same union roof. During leadership meetings this weekend, Kim Roberts made a bizarre comparison to those who want to join up actors as “segregationists living with an apartied[sic] like attitude” like refusing to integrate neighborhoods, forcing “people who look like me” [she is an African American] to live in substandard neighborhoods, and supporting the Jim Crow South. Playing the race card like that on this actors’ issue is truly crazy talk!