SAG gets pilot short stick again


Unlike last year, the Screen Actors Guild is not threatening any strike against the Hollywood studios. But even with a SAG contract in place, lawyer-blogger Jonathan Handel has calculated that the studios have again gone to AFTRA for the overwhelming majority of TV pilots.

Last year’s labor strife brought a sharp reversal, when the 90/10% split in favor of SAG jurisdiction for 2008 flipped to 90/10% in favor of AFTRA in 2009. Not only has that held, but Handel reports in an email to RBR-TVBR that few if any of the 60 or so pilots in development this year are under the SAG union contract.

“Is SAG fading out of the TV business?” Handel asks.

“Maybe so. The ill-will generated by SAG hardliners evidently lives on in the producing community, notwithstanding the electoral change that brought cooler heads last year to the elected and top appointed leadership of the guild. The stalemate and strike rumblings that ensued after the June 30, 2008 expiration of SAG’s contract led many television producers to choose AFTRA jurisdiction wherever possible. SAG finally ratified a new agreement almost a year after the previous contract’s expiration, but the damage to the guild was done,” Handel wrote in his Digital Media Law blog.

Click here to read his full commentary.