Art Directors Guild Exec Responds To Lifetime Achievement Honoree Boycotting Awards Show – Update

Art Directors Guild

UPDATED, 4:53 PM: Chuck Parker, executive director of the Art Directors Guild, just released a statement blasting Joe Musso for saying he’ll boycott the union’s upcoming awards show, where Musso was to have received a Lifetime Achievement Award. “We regret that Mr. Musso has exploited the occasion of the ADG Awards recognition of his artistic achievements to malign the leadership and orderly governance of this organization,” Parker said, noting that Musso’s protest “in no way reflect the views of the ADG.”

Musso, defending his right to protest, said that it is the right of all union members to dissent.

“I am not in any way, shape or form attempting to malign the governance or the membership of the Art Directors Guild,” Musso told Deadline. “And I’m not refusing the award, for which I am deeply honored. I just don’t want to be in a position where my appearance at the awards show could be seen as endorsing the conduct of a person who was repudiated by two-thirds of the membership.” 

Stressing that dissent is not contrary to union values, he said that “the union should look at all sides of an issue and then let the membership vote accordingly.”

PREVIOUSLY, 2:01 PM: Famed production illustrator Joe Musso is boycotting the upcoming Art Directors Guild Awards, where he was slated to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award. In an email to the guild’s members, Musso, who’s running for president of the union, said he won’t show up to receive the honor to protest a Service Award that’s also being presented to Scott Roth, the guild’s former longtime executive director.

“It was because of Mr. Roth’s long, troubling history with the guild, too numerous to list here, that almost two-thirds of the members chose to remove him from his position as our executive director this past June,” Musso wrote. “As such, I must respectfully decline to participate in this event or any other such ceremony which would appear to endorse the conduct of our former executive director. I feel that this would exacerbate old wounds and send the wrong message to the majority of our members who do not share the same opinion as those select few on the Art Directors Council.”

Roth was voted out of office in June in an election mandated by the U.S. Department of Labor – an historic first for a Hollywood union. Like the top executives of the industry’s other major unions, Roth had been hired by his guild’s board of directors and served at its pleasure continuously since 1997. The Labor Department, however, determined that Roth was an “officer” of the IATSE local and not an “employee” as defined by the Labor/Management Reporting & Disclosure Act, and therefore had to stand for election by the union’s members every three years.

Roth lost the subsequent election in a landslide to veteran production designer Chuck Parker, 547-322.

Since then, the DOL has also ordered the guild to re-run last year’s election of the union’s other top officers. Acting on a complaint from a member, the DOL found flaws in the way the electronic balloting was conducted, and told the guild to re-do the election or face a federal lawsuit.

In that election, which took place last December, candidates loyal to Roth were swept into office including the guild’s current president, Nelson Coates; vice president Patrick DeGreve; treasurer Oana Bogdan; and recording secretary Thomas Wilkins. They’re all seeking re-election on a slate called One 800.

Musso heads a slate of candidates called Best 800 that supported Parker in his campaign to oust Roth, and seeks to unseat the incumbent officers. Other candidates on Musso’s ticket include Jim Wallis, running for vice president; Cate Bangs, running for treasurer; and Patty Klawonn, running for recording secretary.

“Since we have now been given a second chance to change our governance,” Musso said in his email, “I sincerely request that you carefully consider this matter when you cast your vote for president.”

Musso is being honored by the guild for his more than 50 years in show business. Over his long career, he worked with Alfred Hitchcock, John Huston, Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, Blake Edwards, Mike Nichols, Norman Jewison and Richard Brooks. His many credits as a production illustrator include The Hateful Eight, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Monk, Flags Of Our Fathers, Vanilla Sky, Basic Instinct, Dick Tracy and Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?

He also served as president of IATSE Illustrators and Matte Artists Local 790 for 30 years prior to its merger into the Art Directors Guild in 2008.

The guild’s awards show will be held February 11 at the Hollywood & Highland Center. Ballots in the guild’s officer election will be counted on December 16.

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