Studios May Use AFTRA Members For Pilots


The latest dust-up between the Screen Actors Guild and Hollywood producers is over the notion that studios could bypass the main actors union and produce spring TV pilots with actors represented under the other performers' union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

SAG is concerned that Twentieth Century Fox Television, or other producers, will shift current shows from SAG to AFTRA representation as a strike vote looms by SAG members. Votes on that strike authorization go out early next year. SAG issued a statement asserting that any effort to shift existing programs from one union shop to another would violate federal law and AFL-CIO rules.

"...The Screen Actors Guild will take any and all necessary and appropriate action to insure the right of its members to be represented by the Guild," the union said in a statement.

AFTRA chimed in with a statement of its own, noting that Fox has long been an AFTRA signatory, adding that its first real hit, Married with Children, was an AFTRA show. Further, it is more expensive for Fox now to produce AFTRA shows, the union noted, for AFTRA has a signed contract with Hollywood producers under the same terms that SAG has rejected. That said, AFTRA affirmed it adherence to union rules, adding AFTRA would never participate in switching affiliations of shows from another union.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said that SAG's "overheated" statement is an effort to disguise the fact that, in a bad economy, the actors are sticking with a "failed negotiating strategy that has already cost SAG members nearly $40 million" in benefits that would  have been provided under a new contract. A strike would cost millions more, according to producers.

The Screen Actors Guild will hold another West Coast Town Hall meeting Dec. 17 in an effort to convince members to support a strike authorization vote. A similar meeting last week in New York revealed a sharp divide between members on that coast, who appear to oppose a strike, and the Hollywood division.