Dissidents win gains in Hollywood actors union

Thu Sep 18, 2008 11:57pm EDT
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Dissidents who blamed hard-line leaders of the Screen Actors Guild for deadlocking contract talks with major studios made pivotal gains in the union's national board elections on Thursday, winning greater control for moderates.

A SAG faction calling itself Unite for Strength won six of the 11 seats up for grabs on the board's Hollywood division, including the reelection of actress Morgan Fairchild, who ran as an independent but was endorsed by the insurgents.

The victorious dissidents include two stars from TV's "Grey's Anatomy" spinoff "Private Practice" -- Kate Walsh and Amy Brenneman -- plus Doug Savant from "Desperate Housewives," "Chicago Hope" veteran Adam Arkin and film and TV actor Ken Howard.

The insurgents also won 13 of 22 alternate board seats up for grabs in Hollywood. Alternates are frequently called upon to fill in at board meetings when higher-profile members are working.

The new members take office on September 25, SAG said.

The majority of the board's influential Hollywood branch is still held by a coalition known as Membership First, led by SAG President Alan Rosenberg, who swept to power in 2005 pledging to take a tougher stance with studios in labor negotiations.

But Unite for Strength members can now wield effective control over the national board by aligning with like-minded moderates from New York and other branches of the guild who have joined Hollywood dissidents in criticizing Rosenberg.

They accuse him of mishandling labor talks and straining relations with SAG's smaller sister union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, through SAG's failed campaign months ago to scuttle a contract negotiated separately between AFTRA and the studios.   Continued...

<p>A general view shows the Screen Actors Guild National Headquarters in Los Angeles July 9, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>