Saturday, January 30, 2010

History made with directors choice for their top award

 "The Hurt Locker" is now the odds on favorite for the Best Picture Oscar. Never has a film awarded the top prize by the producers and directors guilds not taken best picture. Still "Avatar" and the 8 other nominees could still make history.

"Hurt Locker" director Kathryn Bielow made history last night when the Directors Guild of America selected her as the first woman to earn the Best Directorial award in the 60 year history of the guild.  

A complete list follows, courtesy of Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and the DGA.

Winners list:

Kathryn Bigelow
The Hurt Locker
(Summit Entertainment)


Ross Katz
Taking Chance


Louie Psihoyos
The Cove
(Oceanic Preservation Society and Roadside Attractions)


Lesli Linka Glatter
Mad Men - "Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency"


Jason Winer
Modern Family - "Pilot"


Don Mischer
We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial


Craig Borders
Build It Bigger Season 3 - "Hong Kong Bridge"
(Discovery Science)


Christopher Goutman
As The World Turns - "Once Upon A Time"


Tom Kuntz


Allison Liddi-Brown
Princess Protection Program
(Disney Channel)


Director Norman Jewison - DGA Lifetime Achievement Award for distinguished achievement in Motion Picture Direction.

Robert A. Iger, President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company - DGA Honorary Life Member Award, given in recognition of outstanding creative achievement, leadership in the industry, contribution to the DGA or to the profession of directing.

Barry M. Meyer, Chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. - DGA Honorary Life Member Award, given in recognition of outstanding creative achievement, leadership in the industry, contribution to the DGA or to the profession of directing.

Roger Goodman received the DGA's 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award in News Direction for distinguished achievement.

Cleve Landsberg received the 2010 Frank Capra Achievement Award, which is given to an Assistant Director or Unit Production Manager in recognition of career achievement in the industry and service to the Directors Guild of America.

Maria Jimenez Henley received the 2010 Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award, which is given to an Associate Director or Stage Manager in recognition of career achievement in the industry and service to the Directors Guild of America.

Sundance Award Winners

As Sundance winds down this year's "winners" have been announced.

The Ozark Mountains drama "Winter's Bone" and the war-on-terror documentary "Restrepo" have won top honors among U.S. movies at the Sundance Film Festival.

"Winter's Bone," the story of a 17-year-old trying to uncover the fate of her father among the criminal clans of the Ozarks, earned the grand jury prize for American dramas. The U.S. documentary prize went to "Restrepo," which chronicles the lives of an American platoon fighting in Afghanistan.

The audience award for favorite U.S. drama chosen by Sundance fans was given to the romance "happythankyoumorepl ease," directed by and starring Josh Radnor of "How I Met Your Mother." The public-school study "Waiting for Superman" won the audience award for U.S. documentaries.

Click here for full Variety coverage,.

"Winter’s Bone," director Debra Granik’s spare, suspenseful tale of a teenage girl’s coming-of-age in the rural Ozarks, and "Restrepo," Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington’s intense, close-up documentary look at a group of American soldiers in Afghanistan, won the top jury prizes for American films at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival’s Saturday evening awards ceremony.

The LA Times has full coverage with links.

When You Comin' Home Red Ryder at CSN

Theater may lose an institution

Storied Pasadena Playhouse to Close

 Photo: The Pasadena Playhouse is a state historical landmark that has seen many future and current stars pass through its doors. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

Named the official California state theater in 1937, The Pasadina Playhouse will shut its door February 7th.  The Los Angeles Times says the Pasadena Playhouse is almost $2 million in debt, and that a bankruptcy filing is possible. Founded in 1917, the theater has seen world premiers and American premiers of many of the most famous theater works of the century, and been the stage home for Hollywood stars from the silent era to today. While fund raising continues, decline in private endowments and the financial situation of the state mean that this world famous theater may become the latest victim of this great recession. America and Americans are among the lowest in support of the arts on a per person average. The potential closure was also reported in SAGWATCH, Variety and the Hollywood Reporter.

A Facebook Group has been launched to try and save the playhouse.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Best Picture Crap Shoot

"Avatar" is not the favorite for the best picture Oscar for many reasons, not the least of which is the method used. For more see "The Wrap" and "Hollywood Reporter", linked from my Communication Blog.

It's how you pick 'm, "Best Picture" still a crap shoot

Yes, it's still a favorite - but even before its shocking loss at the Producers Guild Awards, 'Avatar' had a problem: the new system AMPAS uses for final best-pic voting isn't very hospitable to "love 'em or hate 'em" movies. [TheWrap] And here's the evidence: the PGA uses that system, too.  [TheWrap]

SAG Conservatory This Weekend

Nevada SAG Conservatory

 Analyzing Cold Reading with Michael Tylo

Noon-4 p.m., Saturday, January 30, 2010
Mirabelli Community Center
6200 Hargrove Avenue
Las Vegas, NV 89107
(95 to south Jones, right on Elton (1st turn) and right on Hargrove)

Cost: Free for Nevada Conservatory Members or $20 per workshop.

Nevada Conservatory Cost: $40 a year for union members / $80 a year for non-union members.

You will need your SAG ID card to join as a member,
and please remember to bring your headshots and resumes.

No RSVP necessary but please check the Branch Hotline at (702) 737-8818 or (800) 724-0767, option 7 for any last minute changes to the Conservatory program.

SAG members should contact Branch Executive Director Steve Clinton by email at if you have any questions.

Equity Transition

The near and long term future of America's stage acting union, Equity, has been under hard discussion after the top two officers removed themselves from the equation. Backstage take a look at Equity today and tomorrow in "Minding the Store at Equity."

Also look into the links below:

Minding the Store at Equity

Upheaval at Equity.

Equity Exec Returns to Acting.

AFTRA-Equity talks.


Actors and Unionism

EQUITY - Actors Equity Association (AEA) Union representing stage actors. See also Actors Equity. The Nevada Equity information line is (702) 452-4200. It includes regional casting calls, since there is little equity work other than “guest artist” contracts in Nevada. In England and much of the British Commonwealth, Equity has jurisdiction over film and television as well as theater. Most foreign Equity film or TV contracts are buy-outs and do not contain the residuals or use fees found in American union contracts.

AEA- Actors' Equity Association; often called simply "Equity". SAG's sister union which represents stage actors, select stage hands and select writers. Equity organizes employer by employer, or by geographic area, whereas SAG and AFTRA organize by primarily by industry.

EQUITY WAIVER - In Los Angeles, 99-seat (or less) theatres which were otherwise professional, over which Equity waived contract provisions under certain circumstances. Now officially called "Showcase code", the term "Equity waiver" is still used informally.

Extra Casting Directors

Nevda Background Casting Agencies (as of 9/21/09)

From the Nevada SAG Web Site :

"The casting agencies listed below offer Background casting services within the Nevada Background Zone to Producers who have signed the SAG agreement. This list is provided only as an accommodation to the Professional Background performer. These agencies are not franchised nor sanctioned by SAG, and SAG makes no representations regarding the quality of services provided by such agencies. These agencies are not allowed to charge SAG members any fees to register with them. They may charge a small one-time set-up fee for non-members ($20-25). These agencies should never require you to take classes from them as a condition of being cast."

Baskow & Associates

2948 E. Russell Road
Las Vegas, NV 89120
(702) 733-7818

Casting Entertainment

4350 S. Arville St., Bldg E Suite A4027
Las Vegas, NV 89147
(702) 207-4447

Goldman and Associates

701 N. Green Valley Parkway, Suite #200
Henderson, NV 89074
(702) 990-3210 phone
(702) 837-3418 fax

Lear & Associates

41 N. Mojave Road
Las Vegas, NV 89101
(702) 438-9111

On Location Casting

1306 W. Craig Road, Suite E, #315
North Las Vegas, NV 89032
(702) 917-5501

The Red Agency

7860 West Sahara Ave., Suite #110
Las Vegas, NV 89117
(702) 242-1770

2980 S. Rainbow Blvd. Suite #210E
Las Vegas, NV 89146
(702) 866-5924

Wild Streak Talent

3355 W. Spring Mtn. Rd., #264
Las Vegas, NV 89101
(702) 252-8382

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hollywood can't afford to ignore Apple

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Apple' s Big Day

10 inch, thin, light weight, touch screen, very high resolution screen that recognized your face as a user.

Close, but the facial recogntion is in the future for not just the iPad but all computers. For now it operates much like an oversized iPhone or iPod, but with higher resolution and a larger image size, fitting easily in a briefcase or oversized purse.

Existing applications for the iPhone or iPod will run on the iPad. Universal remote for electronics and home control are in development, along with video conferencing and other features (for future upgrades, not the model that goes on sale March first).

But there is a great deal of content available now, with Apple working on expansion of contracts with publishers, compatability with text reading systems already in the marketplace, and on a major expansion of Apple TV and iTunes.

It is significant enough that Variety reports that Hollywood cannot afford to ignore the iPad. Its interface and use is already familure to iPhone and iPod users and easy for those who do not use those devices to learn. The screen is clean, strong and the best high definition viewing of Hollywood's product for the price. The iTunes store, with changes in the works for delivery of television and film content could change the film industry the way iTunes revolutionized the music industry.

Books, print newspapers and magazines, videos, movies, full internet interface, e-mail and more...

Apple is launching iBooks to compete with online services such as, Barnes and Noble and Walmart.

The iPad, which is larger in size but similar in design to Apple's popular iPhone, was billed by CEO Steve Jobs on Wednesday as "so much more intimate than a laptop and so much more capable than a smart phone."

PC News and others are following the announcement as it happens, along with specs and applications. It is not a full computer.

How will it impact the future of consumer electronics?
And more immediately, NPR asks will it ignite an e-book war?
Will we all be reading on-line, phones and electronic readers in the near future?

The iPad is not a full service computer and has its potential limitations including...

It relies on internet access and Apple phone aps.

No ability to play Adobe Flash animations, widely used on the Web.

No camera, still or video

No non-Internet phone function

Unclear whether you can bundle your AT&T iPhone plan with an iPad data plan

No removable battery for a device that can suck a lot of power

No removable storage

Minimal "wow" factor, but a great launch for a book-reader plus plus...

According to the New York Times:

"When we set out to develop the iPad, we not only had specific technical goals and user interface goals, but an aggressive price goal, because we want to put this in the hands of a lot of people,” Mr. Jobs says.

The iPad’s pricing starts at $499.

For $499, you get 16 GB of storage, with WiFi built-in.

For $599, you get 32 GB of storage.

For $699, you get 64 GB of storage.

The 3G models cost an extra $130 each.

So all told, there are six models of the new iPad.

The most expensive 64 GB model, with 3G, costs $829 plus the monthly charge."

ZD-Net has it's senior editor doing a live blog update on events at the Apple Convention.

Also a new iPhone, possibly through Verizon and not AT&T may be on the slate, if not today, then by summer.

Just for fun, and with little in common with the real product, MadTV has a parady (adult content) of the iPad..... 

Actors and Unionism

Unions and the Future:

On Actors, Acting, Business, Unions and the Future

   If you are interested in earning even part of your living working in the entertainment industry, specifically as an actor or performing talent, you need to take the time to learn about the craft, study the craft and get a handle on what in the musical “Mame” is referred to as “this business called show.
   Looking at acting as a profession means agreeing that as an actor, you are in business for your self. You are an independent contractor going from job to job and task to task.
   Thinking of acting as a business is a stretch for many actors, but a necessity to put food on the table.
   Actors need to learn early that if they intend to earn even part of their living with their talents, they need to organize their lives as a business. There are considerations such as marketing, financing, production and distribution, just as there would be in any business. Photographs, audio and video tapes, training, networking and selling your talents and services are vital for your future success. They are the tools of your trade. Investment of time, money and compassion are needed to succeed in show business. There may be magic, but it is necessary to eat and make a living while creating and enjoying the benefits of that magic.
   Understanding the craft of acting, how to market yourself as an actor, and of the ever changing market place and distribution systems, may be essential to modern financial success in a very ancient profession.

The Myth that Actors Are Different
  So why should actors be looked upon as any different from anyone who works for someone else to pay the bills and earn a living?
   When corporations and large single ownerships began to monopolize the American Theater Circuit, it was only natural that a move toward solidarity and unionization would follow. So it is, that we have actors unions, unions undergoing a major change in definition, structure and potentially mission, entering the twenty-first century.

Labor Unions for Actors  
   Labor unions, born of the struggles of the nineteenth century, continue to face changes in management, economics, technology and public opinion. The pace may be increasing exponentially. One group, professional working actors are faced with the impact of technology, decentralization and the rapid growth of the number of qualified professional performers.
   There are many performance unions, but three unions directly affect actors wishing to work in commercials, television and motion pictures.
    The first is Equity, which has jurisdiction over live theater and works closely with the two electronic and film unions. While Actors Equity membership is not required to work in film or television, however those casting often perceive an actors membership in the stage or “legitimate theater” union as an asset when making casting decisions. It is necessary to move to a market with and active professional theater community and Equity casting to earn membership into the union. Becoming Equity is a major commitment and will end your flexibility to do community theater (allowed by the other two unions).
     The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists share jurisdiction in television and with commercials and work jointly to negotiate film and other contracts. The differences betweens these unions are explained in the glossary that follows, however at this time there is strong movement toward consolidation to minimize the differences and draw clear and unified lines as to contract jurisdiction entering the digital “info-tainment” age.
   Actors have seen increasing challenges in making a living while pursuing their craft, their art form, and their professions.
   The modern performance labor union started in an age when hotels put out signs that read “no dogs or actors allowed”. Actors were looked upon as traveling deadbeats and the most successful actors would travel from city to city, using local talent to produce theater and entertainments, leaving with the lions share of any ticket gate brought in, or leaving on a rail.
   Actor’s identities, and their ability to control the worlds in which they work, are under the largest and perhaps most rapid forced transitions in history. The theater trained actor may be the minority, perceived as overqualified for the work producers require in a new technology driven marketplace. Middle class working actors find themselves in danger of going the way of the dinosaur, passing into history replaced by new technologies and a corporate defined world.
   The entertainment and information industries are merging, under the control or umbrella of as few as six major international corporations as of the end of 2002. The line between reality and theater is blurred, with an accountant’s pen often deciding which vision of reality or art is presented to the mass audience. In recent years the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA has been faced with the shift by employers (who were themselves creative producers of product, entertainment and art), to a world with a half dozen corporate entities controlling most of the worlds information and entertainment, utilizing the concepts of accounting and stock value to make decisions more often than story or social value.
    The methods, compensation and ability of actors to earn a living using their craft are evolving, often to the disadvantage of the working actor. Actors face the reality of a decrease in potential earnings, known as salary compression. Producers are in a position to offer roles at union scale to experience and sometimes “name” actors and to cripple the union in their efforts to make significant inroads in the areas of salary and benefits. New Media, an umbrella term for all of the new technologies which have evolved over the past ten to fifteen years (including the cable industry as we know it), often falls outside of or at the fringe of contracts with minimal compensation for the use of talent.

Working Actors
    So who are the rank and file of “working actors”?
    They could be your neighbor or the couple down the street.
Actors often hold simultaneous memberships in these diverse groups. Their interests can and should be diverse and liberal arts in nature. Their incomes are by choice or necessity diverse, often extending into the business and service industries as well as across entertainment industry internal lines.
   At these various levels, actors may be engaged in their work on a part-time, full-time or in the case of some university programs, full immersion basis. As has been true since Shakespeare’s time (and even before) actors may also become writers, directors, producers, stage and film hands, publicists, sale people, lawyers, doctors, teachers and so on.   
   Some actors may engage in pretensions of superiority with attitudes illustrated by feelings that stage actors are the “real” actors, full time actors are the “real actors”, principal and featured roles are superior to background talent, university trained actors are superior to street talent, actors who work in the “real world” are the only true actors with academic trained actors being too “pie in the sky”, and so forth. Most actors move freely between these various groups and within the mediums for creative or economic reasons. Many coach or teach or work in other areas of talent development while pursing their “income under contract” within the profession. Many professional actors belong to stage, television and film unions. The list of successful, awardwinning actors who made the transition from the stage to film acting is lengthy.
   Obviously, the stage acting profession formed the basis of the film industry. As can be seen in early film, the language of stage acting was adapted to film. This became even more evident with the addition of sound to moving images. Actors, writers, directors and producers were amazingly adept in changing techniques to the aesthetics of the new medium. In turn, film also influenced the stage. In pace, stage techniques, lighting, sound, costuming and talent image and casting practices, the stage art often reflects the aesthetics and expectations of a film and television raised generation. Audience expectations have also evolved with the parallel media of stage and film. Beyond aesthetics, the early stage and film union movements were bound together in their struggles against forces of oppression.
    The current corporate, political, and social environment has implications for all those who work in the arts or in the media, entertainment and information related industries. The growth of multi-media and new technology provides both challenges and opportunities. In any event, academic and professional groups in both theater and film programs should be paying attention to current union activities. What happens in SAG, AFTRA, Equity and other unions and the film industry in general (agents, casting professionals) is bound to have an affect on the theater and arts communities, both aesthetically and in how many levels of professionals earn their livings.

An Actor’s Life

   When an actor does his or her job, the audience suspends disbelief and believes the actor is the character they are portraying. Actors are paid to make their job look easy and to minimize the percentage of the audience who perceive them as acting. Meanwhile actors face a constant chain of employers, ever changing in name, employment entity, job requirements and demands of their skill. It takes time, talent, dedication and study to aspire to earn a living as an actor.
   The Screen Actors Guild of the new century is unique among unions in many ways. Perhaps the most unique feature of the Guild is that its membership consists entirely of film and television performers who work on a per contract basis and move routinely between employers over the course of most years, much less careers. This structure is different from conventional industries with relatively stable work forces and an organized, structured business environment, because most film and television industry projects are put together from scratch, with new payrolls, different crews, different talent needs and even different locations on a national or international basis. Gone is the studio system where films were shot within the stone walls or motion picture communities in Hollywood or New York. Gone is the nurturing yet at the same time abusive system which hired starlets by the hundreds, put them through school, provided rigorous training and graduated the lucky few into full time employment on the studio lot.
   Understanding the nature of actors, the way they make their living, their motivations and aspirations is important in understanding why some of the members of the Screen Actors Guild would prefer to remain autonomous from other unions.
   Most actors see their work as a craft, an art, and a way of life. Others are attracted to the industry by the glamour and promise of fame and fortune and the outside perception of an easy way to make a living.
   Despite the stereotype of liberal or “tree huggers”, actors represent the full range of political beliefs. However there are a few generalities that may apply. According to a survey published in by University of Wisconsin Press conducted by author and researcher David Prindle, film actors tend to be more mercenary and politically conservative while stage actors are more idealistic and artistic minded. Prindle and other sources confirm that within the SAG boardroom there are elected officials with views covering the full range of American politics and economics. Yet all have several things in common, including an interest in working for the betterment of their industry and their peers.
   As artists and workers, actors are among the most misunderstood of professionals. According to actor Anthony Zerbe, “Acting is easy, or perceived to be, because we work so hard to make it look natural, to not let the work show, to suspend an audiences' disbelief and to play the play”.
   The Bureau of Labor Statistics provide this description of the profession of acting:
Acting demands patience and total commitment, because there are often long periods of unemployment between jobs. While under contract, actors are frequently required to work long hours and travel. For stage actors, flawless performances require tedious memorizing of lines and repetitive rehearsals, and in television, actors must deliver a good performance with very little preparation. Actors need stamina to withstand hours under hot lights, heavy costumes and make-up, physically demanding tasks, long, irregular schedules, and the adverse weather and living conditions that may exist on location shoots. And actors face the constant anxiety of intermittent employment and regular rejections when auditioning for work. Yet in spite of these discouragements, the “passion to play,” as Shakespeare called it, still motivates many to make acting a professional career.

On Actors, Acting and Union

     Actors have long been looked upon as the lower level of society, and in fact there was a time in history when actors were more promiscuous than the established society, including among their numbers gypsies, prostitutes, gamblers, carnies and con-men. There has long been an academic and general society view of actors as emotionally immature, irrational and in effect children who need to be protected or punished.
   Being an actor is perhaps one of the most difficult ways to actually make a living. While there are actors who have forged full time careers in theater, commercials and convention work in cities coast to coast, the vast majority of work lies in Hollywood and New York City.
    It may take one or several hundred non-paid auditions to land one day's work. An actor may work dozens of days a year or none at all.  Then too, there are the expensive classes necessary to keep up their skills, the cost of professional photographs, video and audiotape, of postage and time spent marketing themselves to potential employers.
    Actor Paul Napier, whose credits include portraying the original Mr. Goodwrench, and who remains active on both the SAG and AFTRA boards of directors, tells of his children being asked by their teacher what their father did for a living. Their response was “audition”.
    Casting Director and producer Donn Finn says of actors, “They are not acting for a living, they are acting for their craft. What they are doing for a living, besides waiting tables and taking 'day jobs', is auditioning. You might as well call them auditioners”. Finn went on to point out that each actor  "should think of themselves as their own little corporation," and part of the requirements to be a successful corporation is to join and participate in one or more professional actors unions. Finn is a casting partner in the office of Mali Finn Casting and is a professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at California State University in Fullerton. Recent casting credits include: Eight Mile, Phonebooth, Titanic, LA Confidential, Wonder Boys and The Matrix I,II, and III.
   Longtime SAG Board member Joe Ruskin, whose career includes appearances on the original "Star Trek" and many other television and film projects, states that, “Actors live in fear of rejection each and every day. If they are successful they fear it will end, if they are struggling they fear they will have to do something else for a living and give up a very important part of themselves”.
   For these and other reasons, many actors think of themselves as different from the rest of society. They sit on the outside looking in, observing, studying, emulating and imitating what they see.  Many members of other unions view actors as not working for a living, because actors do not work nine to five for five work days in a row and do not always have to get their hands dirty or work up a daily sweat. Actors know that they are working every waking hour, even as they do other jobs, developing their craft and being ready when the time comes to be able to do what they consider to be the most important thing in their life, to do a role and to act.
    Being an actor is perhaps one of the most difficult ways to actually make a living.
   To begin with the numbers are against you.
   For every part there are hundreds of would-be actors identifying themselves as being fully capable of playing the role. While trained, experienced or well educated actors do have some advantage, producers and directors often pride themselves in casting “new faces” with little or no training, in turn making it increasingly difficult for “working actors” to earn a living in their craft and trade.
   Even among what the US Government categorizes as “qualified professional performers” the numbers are tremendous compared to the actual work available, once you consider that “work in the trade” could mean one days work on a set, a few days, a few weeks or if an actor is lucky, a contract on a successful series or long running theater production. For most actors, “work” means one day at a time, often weeks, months or even years between individual jobs. Thus acting is one of only a handful of professions where those dedicated and involved are seen a working “for the industry” instead of for a single employer. Contracts are negotiated by most entertainment unions (Equity being the prime exception) with the profession rather than one company or single location employer.
   Actors need to consider not only membership in one union, or even all performance unions, but also the overall market place in which they compete. There are estimates of four to as many as ten times that number of qualified non-union actors available in the same talent pool. Many times that number consider themselves “actors” and are free to compete for roles in the overall talent marketing. The standing joke in Los Angeles is that every waiter, store clerk, cop or even doctor is really an actor waiting for their break, writers who have yet to have scripts purchased or producers looking for financing.
   Actors make judgments and can be called on the carpet when they voice their opinions or present their art in ways that many in the public may disagree with. This is the nature of art, to mirror, to reflect, to comment on and to challenge the world around us.
  When on the set the hours are usually long, schedule less than ideal and locations uncomfortable and sometime dangerous. Depending on the production team, actors can be made to feel like cattle or like kings and queens. The environment changes from one job to the next.
   And then there is the lack of work. Mel Gibson, already a star, did not sleep the evening prior to the start of the filming of Lethal Weapon because of apprehension at not having been on a set for well over a year.
   Actors may classify themselves as a social group, or into smaller sub-sets based on the specifics of how often they perform as actors (full time, part time, occasional, "wanna-be," community theater, hobbyist, has been).
   When with fellow actors, there can be jealousy or elitism within the craft itself. “Working actors” may look down on those less fortunate but who practice the craft and love the art form nonetheless. Their definition of  ‘actor’ usually is exclusive to someone who has made a living as an actor, with all of the sacrifices and training, experience and identity that that involves. The “working actors” of Hollywood often have a closed-door attitude, seeking to keep the industry talent pool as small as possible so that those who do wish to make a living will be able to do so. Newcomers are seen as ‘competition’. This very attitude runs counter to the general background of the American Labor Movement and to the federal regulations and guidelines under which unions operate.
   Union unity or any type of unified voice or front can prove difficult. For one, many actors consider themselves artists commenting on society more than actively being a part of a social movement, as unionism can be viewed. Actors divide themselves by whether or not they are paid (professional, amateur, community theater, student), their economic status (starving, working, celebrity), and their professional profile (day player, principal, star). The industry types actors by the medium they work in, the work they actually do (theater, stage, theatrical or film, movie, television) and what they are known most for doing (leading man, leading women, character actor, comic, background artist or extra, stunt professional, singer, dancer, voice artist, animation voice artist, variety artists, entertainer and so forth). Whether or not they are affiliated with a labor organization (union, non-union, SAG, AFTRA, AGVA, AGMA, CWA, Actors’ Equity, etc.) or their dominant talent (dancer, singer, actor, or triple threat) may define who an actor is.  For the record, the term actor is non-sexed. Where once it was actor and actress, for the most part all performers who act now identity themselves as 'actors'.
   At various times actors may form or be identified with cliques, networking groups, workshops, extended families, troupes, ensembles and casts.  Because of high turnover, the day player nature of their work, high levels of rejection and sometimes-tenuous finances, actors can be extremely adaptive. 
  Hollywood, and with it Greater Los Angeles, may be looked upon as a company town for the movie and entertainment industries and the 42nd Street / Broadway Great White Way area of New York a part of that city's identity and chemistry.  Actors play a key role in each of these company or trade settlements and how they make their livings effect the social interaction of these communities.
   By virtue of the demands of the craft, of the need to study and to observe, working or long-time actors tend to be educated, articulate and well read, defying a social stereotype presented in contemporary media.
   Acting is a key part of the larger social world of the entertainment industry, mass communications and leisure aspects of society as a whole.

The Crown Jewel of Unions

    The Screen Actors Guild represents a membership which may not be steadily employed. An estimated 90% of serious full time actors are out of work at any given time, with as high as 80% of the SAG membership not primarily employed in the field their union represents. The membership may or may not be serious about their trade, which outside of the craft remains a part of the myth of Hollywood. The fact that the best acting performances leave the impression of a reality brings the public to the understanding that it must be easy and anyone can do it. They do not see the classes, sacrifices, decisions, rehearsal and work that go into the craft. Most of society fails to understand what it is to be an actor, beyond the performances they witness. 
    Today 85% of union actors make under $2,000 a year at their craft, with fewer than four percent living their upper middle class to wealthy lifestyles solely on their income from acting.  Published reports vary, however most agree that as many as six out of ten members of the Screen Actors Guild go without any acting related income in any given year. 
     The Guild has been called the one truly democratic union because it functions with freely elected officers who, even at the level of the national president, are not paid or compensated for the time they invest. It is a union made up of actors working for actors, who in turn hire paid staff to carry on the day to day functions of the Guild, including legal counsel and financial consulting.  While this may sound altruistic, it is also true as a long list of presidents, officers and board members have had to put their careers on hold, spend time away from family and jeopardize their own relationship with agents, casting directors and management in the interest of what is good for the membership of the Guild.
         Screen Actors Guild Nevada Branch Treasurer Vickie Sutton summarized her view of why the Screen Actors Guild is unique:
This union is unlike any other union. Our union is so different. It’s about a dream, working in that dream, pursuing that dream. Members are much closer to their union and what it represents. The membership is so diverse, yet under one banner, able to vote on all contracts and be a part of every aspect of the union. I take great pride in my union
Membership in the Guild differs from most other unions. In addition to full time actors, dancers, singers and other performers, SAG membership includes others who do not earn their living within the industry, yet are as proud of their union and their union card as any Hollywood star. The vast majority of SAG's memberships are not ‘actors’ in the true sense. The Guild has among its members people who may have looked right for a part and were in only one movie for a few lines, actors and extras who work on movie sets more for the enjoyment than the paycheck, those who are more management in their political leanings than pro-labor, and many who never took their jobs on a movie set seriously. There too are the producer or director's friends, under the obvious influence of management, who were given a part or given a letter of intent to allow them to join the Guild. While representing professional performers, the majority of voting members of the Screen Actors Guild are not themselves full working professionals within the industry or the craft. It is probably safe to say that many SAG member actors continue to participate in the theater community as a creative outlet. The theater community serves as a nurturing source of allowing actors to practice their craft. Successful film actors and movie stars often “return to the fold” because it remains their first love or stage acting provides a reassuring reminder of their identity, purpose and meaning.
     SAG is a national union, with a structure that centers on elected officers and a national board of directors.  Local branches assist in providing services to local members and recommending any local contracts or variations from national contracts to the national board. All funds are distributed through the national office, with general budgets and appropriate specific requests administered by the elected treasurer and voted on by the National Board of Directors.
   A look at the history of the Guild, the similarities in challenges faced during the evolution of the Guild and the formation of a dissident movement and successful revolution within the union, provides a foundation to understand the potential success or failure into the twenty-first century. Any study must include the nature of acting as a profession, of labor in Hollywood and change within one of the highest profile unions in the world.
   The Screen Actors Guild prides itself on being the crown jewel of international entertainment unions. It was formed during the Great Depression as a union to stand up for the rights, working conditions and position of actors as laborers in the growth industries of the 20th century, motion pictures and broadcasting.
    I’ll bring this section on unions with a reference to Chicago author, broadcaster and commentartor Studds Turkey, spoken over National Public Radio on Labor Day, 1995:
   “I ask young people, ‘do you know what makes an 8 hour day?.’ Four Guys who were hanged in Chicago back in 1886 at the Haymaker Riots. What non union workers take for granted in working conditions, hours and pay, are the results of one hundred and  eleven  years of unions. “
   Do not forget, if your quest to be an artist, that you are dependant on your fellow artists, on the other trade unionist who work in this industry and on the support of others for your own success and well being.
   Screen Actors Guild National Director of Education, former Performers Alliance founder Todd Amore, having spent 17 years of his life as a full time actor, spoke to a Nevada Branch membership meeting in May, 2003. He shared the findings of Screen Actors Guild historian Valerie Yaros. Rule One, which now states that union talent does not work nonunion, once spoke of an still echoes anther statement: that union actors work with, for and are in solidarity with their fellow performers, no mater what stature or place in the industry.
   Keep that in mind.

Who is watching what by zip code

The New York Times reports that Netflix and Google have a feature to see which movies are popular rentals by zip code and city. The site does not include Las Vegas (of course) but is iteresting if you know of any of the cities. It was partially created to help film markers in targeting potenential audience. An iPhone ap lis planned.

Free Theater Thursday at UNLV

Free preview performance for Nevada Conservatory Theater Thursday night.

Cold Reading Conservatory this Saturday


From Nevada Screen Actors Guild Conservatory chair Barbara Grant

When:  Jan 30, Sat. check in  11:30, 12-4pm
Where:  Mirabelli Community Center, 6200 Hargrove, 89107  
95 to south Jones, right on Elton (1st turn) and right on Hargrove
Who:    Mike Tylo
What:   Analyzing cold reading

Michael Tylo
Michael Tylo comes to UNLV after a 30+ year career as a professional actor, director and producer. Classically trained, he received his MFA in acting from Wayne State University. Michael has worked on Broadway, television, and film. His stage credits include seasons at The Long Wharf Theatre, The Alley Theatre, The Missouri Repertory, and The Meadowbrook Theatre as well as performing at The Roundabout Theatre and The Louise Lortel Theatre both in New York City. He worked with many well known directors such as Edward Gilbert, Douglas Seale, Terry Kilburn, John Reich, Cyril Ritchard, and Richard Chamberlain. A chance meeting with the late Sir Tyrone Guthrie led to a summer in Ireland, where he worked with Guthrie as the later mounted a production of Oedipusfor a tour in Australia. From that experience Tylo eventually went on to produce shows Off-Broadway including Vikingsby Steve Metcalf at The Manhattan Theatre Club. As a founding board member of The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Tylo has produced as well as acted in a number of their productions. He won critical acclaim as Iago in Othelloand as King Henry IV Part I. For the past three years, Tylo has appeared at he Nevada Conservatory theatre. His nighttime television credits include Lonesome Dovewith Robert Duval, Gabriel’s Firewith James Earl Jones, and as the Alcalde in The New Adventures of Zorro. Other credits include feature roles on Murder She Wrote, Even Stevens, and Perry Mason. He worked 18 years on daytime television on Guiding Light, All My Children, General Hospital, and The Young and Restless; all contract roles. A former student of Uta Hagen, he currently studies with Ivana Chubbuck in Los Angles.


Attourney Jonathan Handel's Digital Media Law observes overtures toward future merger between SAG and AFTRA and between AFTRA and Equity. SAG and AFTRA share jurisdiction over motion pictures, television and commercial production. AFTRA also includes recording artists, some select producers and other smaller industry groups. Equity represents stage actors. All three have differing cultures, missions, and ideas about who should be a member and how. SAG requires work in the trade under SAG contract. AFTRA allows buy ins but in come areas requires work n a trade under their umbrella. Equity has a points system through which actors earn membership.

Having stage, film, television and commercial actors under one  umbrella is not uncommon in entertainment unions around the world.

There remains opposition to any talk of merger or movement toward it in factions of all three unions, with the strongest percentage within SAG, where the last merger reffrendum  required 60% of the membership to pass and fell just short of that amount under heavy anti-merger campaigning.

With the election of leaders at the head of all three unions who are open to the concept, speculation in the media and among union membership is reaching a renewed fever.

From the Hollywood Reporter (first posted here on sagactor on January 22, 2010):

Deal or No Deal?
Hollywood Reporter
January 22, 2010
SAG's new president offers hints about a future pact

By Christopher Lisotta

SAG president Ken Howard is well aware of his union's M.O.

"One of the arguments we have run up against has been, 'Well, SAG is just so crazy. There is all this carrying on, and infighting, various factions -- they are impossible to deal with,' " he notes. "At times, there could have been some truth to it, but we're going to do everything we can to take that argument away."

Howard's goal will be tested this year, especially this fall when SAG is obligated to begin negotiations with producers. Negotiations for its TV/theatrical contract must kick off Oct. 1 and conclude by Nov. 10, before the contract's ultimate June 30, 2011, expiration. But Howard seems unfazed.

"We're operating in a unified way, where the convincing and overwhelming majority of the Screen Actors Guild (is) on the same page," he says.

That certainly wasn't the case last year.

SAG began 2009 with many members on decidedly different pages. January 2009 marked a bold move by Howard and United for Strength, a group that launched a boardroom coup against hard-line members including then-president Alan Rosenberg.

Rosenberg had resisted negotiating with studio management and had alienated fellow union leaders -- including the top brass at sister performers guild AFTRA. But Howard's group brought in new negotiators and cut a preliminary deal with producers, effectively pushing Rosenberg and his allies to the sidelines. This led to a contentious presidential election between UFS-backed Howard and Anne-Marie Johnson, who ran on the MembershipFirst platform, a group that supported Rosenberg's positions.

In September, Howard was elected president with 47% of the vote, while Johnson and two other candidates split the rest of the vote.

A month after his win, Howard pushed to have David White made permanent national executive director, after he had served as interim director for 10 months. With overwhelming approval from the SAG board, White's selection was supported at least in part by some MembershipFirst faction members, who split control of the 71-member national board closely with UFS. That made White SAG's chief negotiator for the upcoming negotiations with the studios' negotiating arm, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. (An AMPTP spokesman declined comment.)

White is careful not to offer any specifics about SAG's negotiating strategy for October, but the big issues are hardly a secret. Health & Pension contributions will be a primary concern -- and that is one area where White thinks there may be some agreement between the two sides.
"It is in the interest of the industry, both sides, labor and management, to find ways to make sure that we relieve some of that pressure," he says. "I've heard management express that, because we have to find a way to maintain a viable pool of talent, otherwise the whole system suffers."

A bigger issue is the ongoing debate over compensation from digital media. As more viewers watch their favorite shows online or use devices like iPhones and other PDAs to check out the latest blockbuster, insiders hope the entertainment industry will finally figure out a way to generate a steady stream of revenue.

For years management argued it didn't know what it would get from digital platforms. But that is beginning to change, White says.

"There is some learning about what doesn't work, which is the beginning process to understanding what does work," he says. "We're beginning to clarify, but there are still many open questions."

Johnson, who serves as SAG's first national vp, agrees that the industry hasn't yet figured out how to monetize the new digital platforms, but says this shouldn't preclude management from offering some sort of revenue-sharing formula with unions. The vp was opposed to the deal Howard and his allies cut in 2009, because it did not include any sort of percentage participation in new media.

"It's virtually impossible to make up what you've given away," she says. "You can't unring the bell."

She is not alone in her dissatisfaction with SAG's approach to digital media compensation, says Jonathan Handel, a professor at the UCLA School of Law and an entertainment attorney at TroyGould, who closely follows entertainment labor issues. If management thinks the 2009 deal means it won the digital compensation war, he argues, it is in for a rude awakening.

"When I talk to moderate forces within SAG, people who were in favor of signing the deal, they say, 'I don't like it,' " he says. "There is really no one at SAG who likes the deal."

This is a problem for SAG and its members, but it's also a problem for the studios if they want to avoid contentious negotiations in 2010 and a work stoppage in 2011. "Management is going to have to be very cognizant and have their finger on the pulse to avoid more labor disruption," Handel warns.

For his part, Howard feels one approach to ensuring successful negotiations in October is by practicing the more communicative dialogue he espoused during the campaign.

"There's a way to go in and be strongly protective of the rights of performers without throwing down the gauntlet, without a lot of saber rattling and posturing and threatening," he says.

That approach, he adds, will work best if the guild works in conjunction with the other guilds, particularly AFTRA, which will be negotiating its own TV talent contracts concurrently with SAG. Howard says he has already been in discussion with the leaders of the WGA and the DGA, as well as AFTRA national board president Roberta Reardon, a process he is planning on continuing through 2010.

"We have to focus on getting ready, both internally and in terms of forming a productive partnership with AFTRA," he says. "I've talked a lot with Roberta Reardon about this, and, as you know the last negotiation was seriously affected by that breakup, so we're going to fix that."

In contrast to 2009, where Rosenberg and his allies were critical about AFTRA and the other guilds, 2010 should see Howard and SAG engaging in a much more collaborative relationship -- which raises the question of whether SAG and AFTRA will revisit the idea of a merger, a move the previous leadership opposed.

"Clearly, it is on the minds of many of the members," says Reardon, who admits she got involved in union politics because she believes in the concept of one unified performers guild. "I should point out the AFTRA national board and the AFTRA convention have been on record as supporting a merger since 2003, which was when the last merger attempt failed."

Still, AFTRA has plenty of other things to occupy its time in 2010. The union will be negotiating four different deals in the next 18 months, including a news contract that expires in May; a sound recording contract that expires in June; and a "front of the book" contract expiring in November that covers everyone from game show talent to soap opera performers.

"Contract priorities are at the top of our page," Reardon continues, "but certainly merger is a question everybody is going to have to look at."

Howard hopes a coordinated negotiation in October could be the groundwork to having a unified performers union. "A successful joint negotiation is key here, because that advances the goal of an eventual merger," he says. "SAG and AFTRA have been heading in that direction, and really have to. It's the only way we'll have real strength in terms of representing performers."

SAG won't have it easy. The preliminary negotiations may produce nothing substantial -- and the notoriously management-friendly DGA could make a deal that undercuts the bargaining power of the other talent unions. But Howard feels a collaborative approach is the way to get a deal.

"That will make for a better and a healthier negotiation," he says. "That overused phrase 'win-win' is really true."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Apple TV growing agressive

Financial Times and SAG Watch report that Apple has also floated the idea of creating a lower-cost video subscription service with News Corp, Time Warner, Viacom, Disney and CBS which would combine the “best of television” and would cost $30 per month.

According to the Financial Times, Apple is pressuring the networks to cut the already rock bottom price of off-network shows in the itunes store from $1.99 to 99 cents per episode. Supposedly the Apple execs think tv shows would sell better at a lower price.

Apple is building a facility to bring video and live television on board as they did the music industry with iTunes

No more film funds from Cali

California film incentives have jointed the rest of the state...they are broke. The Wrap reports that the incentive fund created to keep production in Califorania, has run out of money,

Sundance a disribution dud?

From Barbara Grant, written by Showbiz Management Advisors LLC: (site location: Note that "experts" are not attributed, but Hollywood Reporter and The Wrap seem to report the same information without the word "bomb."

Experts predict that the 2010 Sundance Film Festival will be a bomb for indie movie makers trying to find distribution.

Last year, distributors paid $10 million for the top picture ("Hamlet : 2) which only drew $5 million at the box office. And most recently, "Amelia", which cost $40 million to make only generated $19 million at the box office.

Reeling from soaring marketing costs, a glut of lackluster movies and the closure of studio specialty divisions, the market has virtually collapsed.

Many of the top talent agencies hope that more indies will be made so that they can place their talent.

"Precious", which was purchased at Sundance by Lionsgate last year for $5.5 million, has sold about $45 million in tickets at North American theaters. "Paranormal Activity," which cost about $10,000 to produce has sold $108 million at the box office. Ironically, Robert Redford wants to restore the festival to independent status thus pushing Hollywood heavies off the set.

The winnowing of the slate is a sign that the glut of mediocre films pushed as masterpieces has undergone a correction.

Insiders indicate that formerly powerful distributors which paid big bucks in the past, Focus Features (Universal Studios) and Fox Searchlight (20th Century Fox), have had financial trouble.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Television Producers Convention in Las Vegas

The Hollywood Reporter reports that the National Association of Television Program Executives, NATPE, is back in Las Vegas, selling programs for syndication and digital distribution.

The Wrap reports that it is smaller but still has stellar names, including former Disney head Michael Eisner, whose production company focuses on low cost production for Internet. From "SAG Watch":

NATPE “Subdued” But Eisner Pitching Low Cost Programming

The syndication business is apparently still hurting, and this year’s NATPE convention in Las Vegas is smaller and less attended than before. The Hollywood Reporter notes that former Disney chief Michael Eisner is there pitching a 150 minute production called “The Booth,”  which he says was produced for $250,000.

Auditions for "Regrets Only"

  Las Vegas Little Theatre announces auditions for "Regrets Only" by Paul Rudnick. Auditions will be held on Monday, February 1st, and Tuesday, February 2nd, at 7pm at the Las Vegas Little Theatre, 3920 Schiff Drive, Las Vegas, NV.

"Regrets Only" runs April 2nd - 18th, 2010 ,with performances on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. This production will be directed by Walter Niejadlik. All roles are available.

Cast Breakdown:

Myra Kesselman - (40 - 50's) - White Jewish Maid. Must be able to do several dialects.

Hank Hadley (40 - 50's) - Famous Fashion Designer. Gay and a long time friend of Tibby's

Tibby McCullough (40 - 50's) - New York Socialite

Jack McCullough (40 - 50's) - Tibby's Lawyer Husband

Spencer McCullough (mid 20's - early 30's) - Tibby and Jack's daughter. Also a Lawyer.

Marietta Claypoole (60's - 70's) - Tibby's Mother. Rich, imposing, Grand Dame.

Auditions will consist of readings from the script.

Picture and resume are requested, but not required.
LVLT does NOT pay - We are an entirely volunteer organization!

Call 362-7996 for more information, or visit our website at

URL: Las Vegas Little Theatre


iActor is easier to use and an essential tool if you want to work in any way in the industry.

Two Gentlemen of Lebowski theater audition

Atlas Theatre Ensemble and The Stage Door Theatre are pleased to announce auditions for their upcoming joint production of TWO GENTLEMEN OF LEBOWSKI at Town Square.

The most excellent comedie and tragical romance of
As writ by Mr. ADAM BERTOCCI.
Taking inspiration from Mr. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE and the BROTHERS COEN.

TWO GENTLEMEN OF LEBOWSKI is a fun-filled experience for fans of Shakespeare, fans of the film The Big Lebowski, and for everyone in between. What would have happened if William Shakespeare wrote The Big Lebowski? That is the question. Follow “The Knave” on his journey from soaking in the commode to being soaked in ashes as we present the great Shakespearean comedy, the TWO GENTLEMEN OF LEBOWSKI.

Open auditions will be held on
Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 7:00pm
Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 7:00pm

Thursday, February 4, 2009 by appointment only.

The Stage Door Theatre
6587 S. Las Vegas Boulevard, Suite 174
Las Vegas, NV 89119
(Located in Town Square Las Vegas, On The Strip at Sunset)

Rehearsals will begin soon. Exact dates and times to be determined.

We are still working to schedule performances of TWO GENTLEMEN OF LEBOWSKI, but anticipate a 3-4 week run. Additional schedule information will be available by the time Callbacks are held. All performances will be held at The Stage Door Theatre at Town Square Las Vegas.

None. All roles will receive a small stipend.

Atlas Theatre Ensemble & The Stage Door Theatre


Terrence R. WILLIAMS


BLANCHE and WOO, two thugs
SIR WALTER of Poland
SIR DONALD of Greece
BRANDT, serving-man of the Big Lebowski
OLIVER, her consort
JACK SMOKE, a cavalier
MAUDE LEBOWSKI, daughter of the Big Lebowski
JOSHUA QUINCE, a pederast
LIAM O’BRIEN, his partner
MISTRESS QUICKLY, hostess of a tavern
KNOX HARRINGTON, a tapestry artist
DOCTOR BUTTS, a physician
BROTHER SEAMUS, an Irish monk

Please prepare one (1) Shakespearean monologue of two minutes or less in length. Auditionees will also be asked to read selections from the script, so being familiar with the movie plot may prove helpful. Headshot and Resume are requested, but not required.

Send email to
or call (702) 949-6123.

BOULDER CITY PARKS & RECREATION January - August 2010 Brochure

ACTING is an enjoyable experience in personal and professional growth using acting,
auditioning & interviewing techniques.

Acting techniques include cold reading, character
development, improvisation, theater games,
on-camera & stage techniques, commercial
techniques, voice over & auditioning.

Instructor ART LYNCH is a BC resident & a professional
theater, film, television & communications
coach. For the past 13 years, Lynch has
been an adjunct professor at CSN, & an acting
instructor at schools, businesses & to industry

location ABC Park Admin #1

no class 5/29 & 7/3

fee $60 monthly
for a weekly class
day Saturday

age 8-13 S 10-11:20am
age 13-17 S 11:30am -12:50am
age 15+ S 1-3pm

Mondays, all ages 6 to 7:30 PM

This fun, relaxed course is designed to
allow students to move at their own pace &
grow as individuals while working on auditions
& acting skills for professional or selfimprovement.
fee $20 per hour per person evening &
weekends times & dates arranged
directly with the instructor

Specialized classes are forming to develop a
living theater of the history of Boulder City &
Hoover Dam. For more information, call
293-9340, email