Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Executive Board Meeting, Part II

More reports, more mingling, and a fund-raiser in the evening for the IATSE's political action committee.

For me, the day's nuggets were

1) That sanity seems to have returned to the Screen Actors Guild with old hand David White installed as SAG's interim national executive director, and SAG senior advisor John McGuire as chief negotiator.

The reason this is important for the IATSE is that between the economic downturn (see below) and the de facto SAG strike (growing more de facto month by month), the film business has been steadily shrinking. Spot checks with different business representatives reinforce the already obvious: work is down and many long-time film veterans have been hurting.

This was struck home to me last Sunday night when I asked a veteran cinematographer what his next project was going to be and he answered: "Knocking sense into SAG."

2) The industry is getting beaten up by the ongoing recession. Downsizing, salary cuts, project cancellations are all happening in major ways.

One proffered example: Jay Leno's show shifting to ten o'clock Monday through Friday wipes out hundreds of IA jobs. (It doesn't do SAG, AFTRA, DGA or the WGA a hell of a lot of good either.)

Another example: Disney is going through more staff reductions, and it's anticipated that more will follow (some rumored to be in animation -- there's a surprise.)

3) The IA cocktail party, where the gloom and doom is replaced by shop talk, political talk, and salacious gossip (the best kind).

A wise old IA officer said to me: "I think the Employee Free Choice Act is going to pass, because it's got a lot of momentum. I think it's going to get changed, but I don't think the Senate Republicans can mount a filibuster against it." (I hope he's right. I'm a deep-dyed cynic who tends to think game-changing pieces of legislation almost always slam to a halt against the status quo.)

And another wise old industry vet offered: "I was driving a [big deal Hollywood star] around, and she says to me: "See that studio? I got a contract there because I s*cked off [the big deal studio chief] when I was underage. I should have had him arrested, but I didn't."

An old story, often told, but always good to hear when you're eating, drinking and working to take your mind off glum reports.

5 comments:

novid said...

And another wise old industry vet offered: "I was driving a [big deal Hollywood star] around, and she says to me: "See that studio? I got a contract there because I s*cked off [the big deal studio chief] when I was underage. I should have had him arrested, but I didn't."

This quote shows everything that has gone wrong with the studios, and why so many of fans of what ever fanbase of what ever genre of entertainment (music all the way sideways and up and down) wonder where did the good ones go and where are the good ones now.

I might disagree with your politics but I respect your words and what you do for your union. This is my first time posting. I thank you for showing this quote.

Anonymous said...

Not to defend the practice, but the "casting couch" probably got a hell of a lot more action during the golden era of studio filmmaking than it does now. Starlets and young actors being preyed upon by Hollywood power players is as old as Hollywood itself, and the list of old-time greats (actors, directors, producers) who had a taste for very young partners isn't a short one.

Anonymous said...

In the movie "RKO 281" about the making of "Citizen Kane", portrays
William Randolph Hearst resorting to blackmailing the big studio bosses with photographs, depicting famous actors and actresses engaguing in certain acts. He wanted to stop the production of "Citizen Kane". One of these pictures suppossedly involved the actress who did the voice of "Snow White". I wonder if this is true...

Steve Hulett said...

The anecdote I referenced above happened in the "Golden Age." The players -- who I won't mention -- might surprise you. Or not.

This is what I've learned as I've traveled down the Great Highway of Life: Human nature is pretty non-political. Men do what men do, women do what women do. We are all -- to a greater or lesser degree -- slaves to our libidos.

And yeah. There's as much hanky-panky going on now as there was in 1930, 1940, 1970. Kinkiness is with us always. Just ask Larry Craig, Ted Haggard, or John Kennedy.

Steve Hulett said...

The anecdote I referenced above happened in the "Golden Age." The players -- who I won't mention -- might surprise you. Or not.

This is what I've learned as I've traveled down the Great Highway of Life: Human nature is pretty non-political. Men do what men do, women do what women do. We are all -- to a greater or lesser degree -- slaves to our libidos.

And yeah. There's as much hanky-panky going on now as there was in 1930, 1940, 1970. Kinkiness is with us always. Just ask Larry Craig, Ted Haggard, or John Kennedy.

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