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Sunday, August 24, 2014

National Baord Reprot (unofficial) September 2014




This is an unofficial private letter, not a publication of SAG-AFTRA nor does it reflect the views and policies of the Guild. I am writing this in open honesty as myself, Art Lynch, who happens to serve Nevada on the National Board of Directors of SAG-AFTRA.


Brothers and sisters of our union;
I am proud to represent you on the National Board of Directors. I hope to hear from you to find out what you feel I need to do, as well as your concerns. Your views, opinions and what you feel I should be doing for you are valued and needed.


As always, President Ken Howard begins meetings with a moment of silence for those who have passed away over the past year. He reads each name in solemn voice. It was highly emotional for me when Nevadans were acknowledged. Four generations of talent are leaving this earth, most of them far too young. We have lose actors from the Hollywood Studio Systems heyday, and from recent television seasons, from our childhoods and from our children's childhoods, from grandparent and parents life times...some expected, some in unnecessary shock and trauma. 

Rest in peace.


We are union.



Politics, the past and petty differences must be put aside to allow for more meetings, stronger committees, the loss of divisive agendas in committees, work with the national board representative to inform the membership, be a vital part of the process of forming a new union, and solidifying Nevada as a stand alone branch or local, with our own identity, history and membership needs and services. With the election behind us, we need to hold our our hands, swallow our pride and move forward for the membership, not our own ego, agenda or social desires.


SAG-AFTRA is a union, not a club or social organization. 

We are part of the AFL-CIO and four A's. We function legally as a union and provide union services and negotiation rights as outlined by Federal Labor Law.


Policy is constitutionally vested in the National Board of Directors, with certain powers vested by the board to our National Executive Director. Locals deal with local needs, committees and keeping the membership connected to and involved with the branch.

Local activism encouraged.

Union members are encouraged to plan events in support of charity. There are two reasons that such activities do need to be coordinated through staff. First of all, to allow the union to assist in publicizing member activities. The second is make sure that there are no conflicts you may not be aware of (limitations on SAG-AFTRA set by Federal Labor law, planned job actions, or conflicts with SAG-AFTRA policy as examples). The Nevada local has been one of the more active branches, and has plans to become even more so.

Stay Dues Current: It is important for Nevada’s voice in a new union.


The deadline to pay your dues comes up on us unexeptedly every October and March. A reminder to SAG members that it is very important you pay your dues.  Methods of payment and, if applicable locations, can be found on the http://sag-aftra.org web site. Your on-time dues payment is vital to ensure services and national board voting level for Nevada


The Road Toward a New Union.


A new merged union is increasing our strength to deal with the corporations who hire us, to maintain wages and working conditions, to establish our right to representation on new media and growing contracts and to  protect performers well into the future. Economy of scale and unified representation will end competition between unions in this anti-union environment in which we all live. If you wish to work more often, you should support the proposed new union.

There will be merger or growing pains. Some branches and locals have closed or forced to consolidate. We still have a strong local, but advice comes through Denver and all oversight and assistance is through Los Angeles departments, delaying response and sometimes being lost in the cracks. I am working on this as are all levels of management. Document all calls and contacts and feel free to let myself, Julie in Denver and Linda in Dallas know about any problems that occur in timly response from LA. 

We must continue to battle for the return of a local exectutive and office in the future. It is up to all of us as members to keep the pressure on.

Deep and painful cuts were made by our paid National Executive Director under the powers given to that position by the constitution. They were needed due to a much larger budget shortfall than projected when merger occurred. In the time since the nature of finances has become clearer. We have to focus on the core missions of contracts, working conditions, organizing and servicing the members at a basic core union levels.

The board had little to no notice and no real say as we saw our executives removed, offices closed and in some cases locals dissolved or merged into other geographically distant locals. We also saw no alternatives, given budget information.

However remember that for most of its existence as a branch of the Screen Actors Guild Nevada had no local executive or office. We grew and we prospered into one of the most active small locals in the nation.

A new union for the 21st century "and beyond' (Buzz Light-year) is the goal.

Former SAG President Richard Masur drove it home with me...the choice is survival, and being able to remain a strong union. If we did not merge, new technologies, management driven powers and divisiveness between unions could have weaken both unions at a time when the anti-union politics of the country are growing, and management merging into even stronger blocks of employers.

There will be change. There are no guarantees on local integrity, political voice or structure into the future, although the focus is toward national representation from the local level up. Remember that there are major cultural and structural differences that remain from the two "landmark" unions.  These  must be dealt with to strengthen the foundation for the "new union." 


Organizing to increase work opportunities.


The Guild is working to increase the use of SAG-AFTRA talent.

The truth is that a union contract not only protects you, but offers advantages to young producers and filmmakers. This will help producers to see the value of qualified professional union talent. There are resources within the Guild to help productions use qualified union professional talent.   

It is up to us to sell filmmakers, including those who appear to be solidly anti-union, on the value of union talent and the protections of union contracts not just for us but for them.

SAG is working internally and with outside services to make it easier for the employers to become union signatories. The starting point is the corporate educational contract, with local focus on small low budget and student films, but efforts will expand. 

Organization really starts at the grass roots level. That means you, me and everyone else in the union. We need to audition for all productions, union and non-union, but insist on a union contract before we accept a job. We need to report union members who are ignoring our primary rule, that we do not work non-union. We need to help show producers how easy it can be to work with union talent under a union contract. We need to be fully professional on audition and on the set. We need to support and become active with the Local Nevada Organizing Committee.


Rule One must be enforced to build union work for us all.

Remember Rule 1 always applies, which means union talent does not do non-union work.

Members are obligated to turn in anyone alleged to be doing non-union work. There is a due-process procedure, along with evidential requirements and degrees of judgment and decisions making. No member will be “crucified” and most come out of the process as stronger unionist.

Rule 9 enforcement is another issue in areas where all entertainment acting related unions are active.  We are expected to support other unions in their contracts.

If you are working under a SAG-AFTRA contract, you may cross another unions picket line.  If you are not working a SAG gig, it is up to you. SAG members are encouraged to join in union picket lines, in view of the declining position of unions in America.

By auditioning I have earned modified low budget, ultra low budget and student contracts on five films over a four month period.

Audition for non-union production. Offer them information and encourage them to use a union contract for your talents. If they do not..."just say no."

This remains one of the best grass roots ways to build the amount of opportunity and work in Nevada.

Stay on top of your union.

It is important that members have current e-mail addresses that they check and read. The union will provide information on what your union is doing, send surveys for your opinion and promote events and benefits you may find interesting only by e-mail. The print magazine will be provided three times a year, with an e-version for the 4th edition.

If you know of any member who does not have e-mail, or who is not receiving electronic Guild communications, please offer to help them to go on-line. 

The Hollywood Reporter may still be offering free subscriptions for Guild members, on-line news magazine, blogs, and other services are available free or for a fee, to help you to remain on top of the industry. There are special rates on other industry publications and free feeds from the SAG-AFTRA, the SAG Foundation and other news and information sources. In the interest of full disclosure, I have run a daily Nevada industry blog for over ten years. I also run two FaceBook and two a second blog.

http://www.sagactoronline.com/

https://www.facebook.com/SAGActor

https://www.facebook.com/art.lynchSAG

http://www.lynchcoaching.com/
  and
http://www.comprofessor.com/

Be sure to check out Variety, the Hollywood Reporter, Backstage, the Los Angeles Times, Deadline and other trade publications to remain on top of your industry, craft, trade and art.


I strongly encourage you, in this rapidly changing world, to do stay on top of your industry.



In solidarity;

Art Lynch
National Board Director

This is not writing in any way on behalf of the SAG-AFTRA or any other organization, unless indicated otherwise.

Lights, Camera, Advertisement...Product Placement takes over Television



The Web-series "First Day," funded entirely by Kmart, may seem like a typical show for teenage girls. But the cast competes with the wardrobe--all of it from the big-box store--for top billing. WSJ's Sam Schechner reports from Burbank.


Blog Editor Notes: "Harry's Law" has been retrofitted to appeal to 18 to 44 year olds despite being the network's top rated series, and taking its time slot in overall ratings. Why? To appeal to the demographic that spends money on things advertisers want to push. In addition expect increased appearances by Dell instead of Apple computers, Pepsi instead of Coke and other products that spend big bucks on product placement to be seen by the "younger" generation. Among the potential loss are in depth stories that are more social and less action oriented, story lines that reflect the poor or elderly, and the stronger character development audiences 35 and up demand. The trend started in motion pictures, with attendance of an average age of 23, then spread to television and is now dominating the world of web produced webisodes...as this Wall Street Journal story explores...
From Wall Street Journal.com (subsription may be required)


During the July filming for "First Day," a comedy series for teenage girls, a woman with a spreadsheet and a red pen sat in a director's chair carefully checking off boxes.
Her job: to make sure Kmart products were being used. As the cameras rolled, she noted the exact items, such as a particular style of cargo pants, that the retailer had included in "look" sheets for each character.
Kmart had good reason to expect such control over the six-episode series, which is running on Facebook and other websites this month. The retailer is picking up the bill of more than $600,000 for the program, and approved everything from story lines to wardrobes to names of characters.
[CONTENT]

The digital revolution is blurring the lines between traditional television shows and Internet video by changing how programs are delivered to consumers. It's also changing how shows are made and who makes them. Movie-streaming company Netflix Inc. is about to produce its first original show. Google Inc.'s YouTube is readying a slate of channels to host programs, according to people familiar with the matter. A new talk show hosted by Diablo Cody that began as a home video posted on YouTube is now being sponsored by Lexus.

Web shows like "First Day" could provide a template for TV's future that harkens back to the era when advertisers not only sponsored but helped to create, cast and script "soap operas" and variety shows.

"We're all going back to the dawn of television," said Evan Shapiro, president of AMC Networks Inc.'s IFC and Sundance Channel. "Especially online, we are seeing remnants of the early days of television where brands are way more involved in production."

The change matters for viewers. Advertisers could end up calling more of the shots—from what kind of characters get on the air to the types of stories that get told. Some advertisers might be reluctant to put their names on or spend big bucks for edgy fare like "Breaking Bad," in which a high-school chemistry teacher begins cooking meth.
Everett Collection
'Breaking Bad' used the traditional approach in which a network creates content and advertisers buy spots.

The advent of advertiser-produced shows comes at a tumultuous time for the television industry. Audiences for the average TV program are shrinking, as viewers find alternate ways to watch video, such as on devices like iPads and computers through streaming sites such as Hulu LLC. That threatens tens of billions of dollars in advertising. Meanwhile it remains unclear whether a new generation of viewers will subscribe to cable TV in the same numbers as their parents. That threatens tens of billions of subscription dollars.

Those challenges are making some TV networks more open to advertiser-created content. "There is pressure on the networks to fill their shelves," said Robert Friedman, a former MTV executive who is president of media and entertainment at Radical Media, which is majority owned by Bertelsmann AG-controlled FreemantleMedia. "If these types of shows work, they're going to be a big part of the schedule in the future."

Companies like Radical, Los Angeles-based Generate and WPP Group PLC's GroupM have been pushing advertiser-produced shows for some time. But advertisers have been wary of the big costs. Nor do they want to produce a flop. "In the Motherhood," a successful Web series from Unilever PLC and Sprint Nextel Corp., made the leap to Walt Disney Co.'s ABC in 2009 and was canceled within three months.

Still, more advertisers are jumping in. More than a half dozen have spearheaded new or recent shows, including General Motors Co., Sony Corp. and Intel Corp. Overall, advertisers are projected to spend $3.1 billion on Web-video ads and sponsored programming in 2011, up 43% from 2010, according to eMarketer.
Bravo Photo
Judge Tom Colicchio of Bravo's 'Top Chef,' sponsored by Toyota.

Advertising-funded programs dominated TV in the 1940s, when television was still an unproven medium. But by the mid-1950s, TV's audience was booming. Advertisers were becoming wary of the cost to make a single show. The few national networks, meanwhile, realized they had a very scarce resource with their airtime. And they increasingly opted to make their own shows, selling commercial spots to multiple advertisers.

For the most part, the traditional model for making TV shows hasn't changed in decades. Writers begin pitching ideas to TV networks and studios in the summer. TV executives decide which scripts they like. They eventually select a few dozen to make into full-blown test episodes, called pilots, paying millions of dollars each to do so. Generally, it's not until then that TV networks start approaching advertisers to sell commercials and more elaborate product placements.
Sam Schechner on Lunch Break looks at how Budweiser is transforming itself from television advertiser to content producer, another example of how the digital revolution is changing how shows are made and who makes them.

The new model reverses the process. Anheuser-Busch InBev NV's Budweiser unit this summer began working with Radical to shoot its own reality-competition show called "The Big Time"—without locking in a TV network to air it.

Each of the seven 44-minute episodes is costing between $300,000 and $500,000 to produce, according to people familiar with the project. But the company has had discussions with TV networks about running the show for free, and it plans to run it online.
Alloy Entertainment
Kmart paid for 'First Day,' a comedy series for teenage girls, to spur sales of clothing and other products.

Contestants in the show compete for a chance to live out a dream, such as pitching major-league baseball or running a restaurant. "It flips the model to content that people seek out and stay connected to for longer than a traditional spot," said Jorge Inda Meza, Budweiser's global director of marketing.

By funding a program, advertisers get a much deeper level of control over the content than they traditionally have had.

For Kmart, a unit of Sears Holdings Corp., "First Day," began as a four-page pitch in 2009 from "Gossip Girl" executive producer Alloy Entertainment. For the current season, the show's second, Alloy pitched a story about a girl who wants to go to the prom with her crush. The retailer liked the idea, but wanted to use it to hawk its line of back-to-school clothes. So it suggested changing the focus to a fall dance, rather than a prom.

In rounds of back-and-forth story development, Kmart also asked Alloy to shape each of the four main characters to reflect several clothing brands that Kmart wanted to push. The protagonist, for instance, was written to embody the Dream Out Loud by Selena Gomezbrand. Kmart also pushed Alloy to change the protagonist's original name, Bree, to which it thought its customers wouldn't relate. They settled on the name Rosie instead.

The retailer wouldn't tolerate bad language. In an early draft of the script, one character described a protein shake as tasting "like grass without the G and the R"; the reference was cut.

"There was a lot of work we did around language, and trying to make sure we spoke in a teen's language, but also that there was no swearing, no sex," said Andrew Stein, vice president of marketing for Sears Holdings.

Advertisers have generally been less willing to spend at the same levels as traditional TV producers. An hour-long episode of a broadcast network drama usually costs well over $3 million to produce. These costs have been rising as networks try to outdo one another with special effects and big-name stars.

But an hour of airtime for even an expensive scripted Web show from an advertiser can cost well under $1 million to create, producers say.

The first season of "First Day," where the episodes last just five to eight minutes, cost between $600,000 and $800,000 to make, according to people familiar with the budget, and racked up approximately eight million views across its eight episodes. For that same amount of money, an advertiser could buy only three or four 30-second ads in CBS Corp.'s "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," which averaged 14 million viewers per episode last TV season, according to estimates of prices compiled by Nielsen.

"First Day" was designed to shoot cheaply. In it, the main character is forced to relive the same day repeatedly, as in the Bill Murray comedy "Groundhog Day." The shoot had a smaller crew, fewer extras, smaller salaries and no trailers for its actors. The food table for cast and crew offered cheese balls and other goods purchased in part with Kmart gift cards. The plot made it easier to save time by doing more "block shooting"—getting every scene in a single location at once. Every iteration of a climactic scene at a fall dance was squeezed into one day's shooting in a high-school gym.

Reality shows are even cheaper. Short online episodes of Bravo's cooking-competition program "Top Chef" will air later this fall on the website for Comcast Corp.'s Bravo channel, BravoTV.com, as well as Hulu, iTunes, and Amazon and can be streamed over mobile phones and tablets. According to people familiar with the matter, those episodes cost roughly $50,000 each to produce as part of a sponsorship by Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. That's a fraction of the $500,000 to $1 million that an episode of reality television like "Top Chef" can cost, according to people familiar with the program. Toyota and Bravo declined to comment on specific financials related to the deal.

One way they save is by moving quickly. A full-length on-air episode of "Top Chef" takes about two days to shoot and runs about an hour with commercials; Toyota's five- to seven-minute web episodes were filmed in just 45 minutes.

"We are always looking for ways to create a positive recall of our brand," said Dionne Colvin, national marketing media manager for Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. "We've found the best way to do that is being involved early on in the production."

Some advertisers and ad buyers say they're looking to make shows because of the rising prices for conventional TV commercials. The average prices to reach 1,000 people between 18- and 49-years-old are up more than 10% over last year for "upfront" ads sold in advance for prime-time shows on several major broadcast and cable networks, according to ad buyers and network executives.

The prices are going up because advertisers continue to spend, even as the number tuning into TV shows goes down. The number of adults under 50 watching traditional TV, live or recorded, at any given time of day this television season was down 2.4% from two years ago, according to Nielsen. At the same time, digital-video recorders are lessening the impact of commercials, with roughly half of some spots skipped when viewers watch a previously aired show.

"Advertisers clearly have to do something," said Ben Silverman, a former producer and NBC executive who now runs InterActive Corp.'s Electus multimedia studio, which has made Web-video series for clients including Mars Inc.'s Orbit gum brand. "Spot advertising is not having the same relative impact, and it's still super expensive."

But giving advertisers more control of shows could force writers and creators to sand down the rough edges on their shows, or avoid controversial themes. "Good drama and good comedy come from conflict, and brands can be conflict-averse," said Josh Bank, East Coast president of Alloy Entertainment, the maker of the Kmart show. "That's the cool puzzle of this side of the business. How can we make very large brands happy and maintain the creative integrity of our show?"

In "First Day," Kmart said it worked to keep its involvement subtle. Characters don't mention its name. In the first season, the retailer nixed an idea for the main character to skip school to shop at Kmart because it seemed forced.

"Our goal here is to be real and authentic, and to embed our brands into the storyline," said Kmart's Mr. Stein.
Write to Sam Schechner at sam.schechner@wsj.com and Lauren A.E. Schuker atlauren.schuker@wsj.com
From Wall Street Journal.com (suggest using school library web site, as subsription may be required)

Lights, Camera, Advertisement...Product Placement takes over Television



The Web-series "First Day," funded entirely by Kmart, may seem like a typical show for teenage girls. But the cast competes with the wardrobe--all of it from the big-box store--for top billing. WSJ's Sam Schechner reports from Burbank.


Blog Editor Notes: "Harry's Law" has been retrofitted to appeal to 18 to 44 year olds despite being the network's top rated series, and taking its time slot in overall ratings. Why? To appeal to the demographic that spends money on things advertisers want to push. In addition expect increased appearances by Dell instead of Apple computers, Pepsi instead of Coke and other products that spend big bucks on product placement to be seen by the "younger" generation. Among the potential loss are in depth stories that are more social and less action oriented, story lines that reflect the poor or elderly, and the stronger character development audiences 35 and up demand. The trend started in motion pictures, with attendance of an average age of 23, then spread to television and is now dominating the world of web produced webisodes...as this Wall Street Journal story explores...
From Wall Street Journal.com (subsription may be required)


During the July filming for "First Day," a comedy series for teenage girls, a woman with a spreadsheet and a red pen sat in a director's chair carefully checking off boxes.
Her job: to make sure Kmart products were being used. As the cameras rolled, she noted the exact items, such as a particular style of cargo pants, that the retailer had included in "look" sheets for each character.
Kmart had good reason to expect such control over the six-episode series, which is running on Facebook and other websites this month. The retailer is picking up the bill of more than $600,000 for the program, and approved everything from story lines to wardrobes to names of characters.
[CONTENT]

The digital revolution is blurring the lines between traditional television shows and Internet video by changing how programs are delivered to consumers. It's also changing how shows are made and who makes them. Movie-streaming company Netflix Inc. is about to produce its first original show. Google Inc.'s YouTube is readying a slate of channels to host programs, according to people familiar with the matter. A new talk show hosted by Diablo Cody that began as a home video posted on YouTube is now being sponsored by Lexus.

Web shows like "First Day" could provide a template for TV's future that harkens back to the era when advertisers not only sponsored but helped to create, cast and script "soap operas" and variety shows.

"We're all going back to the dawn of television," said Evan Shapiro, president of AMC Networks Inc.'s IFC and Sundance Channel. "Especially online, we are seeing remnants of the early days of television where brands are way more involved in production."

The change matters for viewers. Advertisers could end up calling more of the shots—from what kind of characters get on the air to the types of stories that get told. Some advertisers might be reluctant to put their names on or spend big bucks for edgy fare like "Breaking Bad," in which a high-school chemistry teacher begins cooking meth.
Everett Collection
'Breaking Bad' used the traditional approach in which a network creates content and advertisers buy spots.

The advent of advertiser-produced shows comes at a tumultuous time for the television industry. Audiences for the average TV program are shrinking, as viewers find alternate ways to watch video, such as on devices like iPads and computers through streaming sites such as Hulu LLC. That threatens tens of billions of dollars in advertising. Meanwhile it remains unclear whether a new generation of viewers will subscribe to cable TV in the same numbers as their parents. That threatens tens of billions of subscription dollars.

Those challenges are making some TV networks more open to advertiser-created content. "There is pressure on the networks to fill their shelves," said Robert Friedman, a former MTV executive who is president of media and entertainment at Radical Media, which is majority owned by Bertelsmann AG-controlled FreemantleMedia. "If these types of shows work, they're going to be a big part of the schedule in the future."

Companies like Radical, Los Angeles-based Generate and WPP Group PLC's GroupM have been pushing advertiser-produced shows for some time. But advertisers have been wary of the big costs. Nor do they want to produce a flop. "In the Motherhood," a successful Web series from Unilever PLC and Sprint Nextel Corp., made the leap to Walt Disney Co.'s ABC in 2009 and was canceled within three months.

Still, more advertisers are jumping in. More than a half dozen have spearheaded new or recent shows, including General Motors Co., Sony Corp. and Intel Corp. Overall, advertisers are projected to spend $3.1 billion on Web-video ads and sponsored programming in 2011, up 43% from 2010, according to eMarketer.
Bravo Photo
Judge Tom Colicchio of Bravo's 'Top Chef,' sponsored by Toyota.

Advertising-funded programs dominated TV in the 1940s, when television was still an unproven medium. But by the mid-1950s, TV's audience was booming. Advertisers were becoming wary of the cost to make a single show. The few national networks, meanwhile, realized they had a very scarce resource with their airtime. And they increasingly opted to make their own shows, selling commercial spots to multiple advertisers.

For the most part, the traditional model for making TV shows hasn't changed in decades. Writers begin pitching ideas to TV networks and studios in the summer. TV executives decide which scripts they like. They eventually select a few dozen to make into full-blown test episodes, called pilots, paying millions of dollars each to do so. Generally, it's not until then that TV networks start approaching advertisers to sell commercials and more elaborate product placements.
Sam Schechner on Lunch Break looks at how Budweiser is transforming itself from television advertiser to content producer, another example of how the digital revolution is changing how shows are made and who makes them.

The new model reverses the process. Anheuser-Busch InBev NV's Budweiser unit this summer began working with Radical to shoot its own reality-competition show called "The Big Time"—without locking in a TV network to air it.

Each of the seven 44-minute episodes is costing between $300,000 and $500,000 to produce, according to people familiar with the project. But the company has had discussions with TV networks about running the show for free, and it plans to run it online.
Alloy Entertainment
Kmart paid for 'First Day,' a comedy series for teenage girls, to spur sales of clothing and other products.

Contestants in the show compete for a chance to live out a dream, such as pitching major-league baseball or running a restaurant. "It flips the model to content that people seek out and stay connected to for longer than a traditional spot," said Jorge Inda Meza, Budweiser's global director of marketing.

By funding a program, advertisers get a much deeper level of control over the content than they traditionally have had.

For Kmart, a unit of Sears Holdings Corp., "First Day," began as a four-page pitch in 2009 from "Gossip Girl" executive producer Alloy Entertainment. For the current season, the show's second, Alloy pitched a story about a girl who wants to go to the prom with her crush. The retailer liked the idea, but wanted to use it to hawk its line of back-to-school clothes. So it suggested changing the focus to a fall dance, rather than a prom.


First Published 4-19-11

Click on "read more" below to continue or go to the Wall Street Journal by clicking here.