Actors union board sacks national executive director, replaces negotiating committee

An actors strike is far less likely, and a contract deal is far more possible, because the national board of the Screen Actors Guild has yelled, "Cut!" It's fired its national executive director and chief negotiator, and disbanded the Guild's negotiating committee. KPCC's Brian Watt has more on SAG's new cast of characters.

Brian Watt: A slim majority of moderates on the Guild's national board finally succeeded in sacking Doug Allen. For months, they and a growing number of Guild members had attacked Allen for mismanaging contract talks with film and TV producers.

Those talks have gone nowhere since last summer, and Guild members have been working since then without a contract. But Allen enjoyed the support of the hardliners on the board, and of SAG's national president, Alan Rosenberg, who offered his own take on the situation to KPCC's "AirTalk."

Alan Rosenberg: Doug was fired because he was too good and too strong and too much of a unionist.

Watt: Rosenberg could fade into the background as this plot advances. The national board also decided that only Doug Allen's replacements, or someone they approve, can speak publicly on the Guild's behalf. Those replacements are David White and John McGuire.

White, who spent four years as SAG's general counsel, is the interim executive director. In his first hours on the job, he sent a message to SAG's 100,000+ members calling for unity. McGuire, the new chief negotiator, is a 40-year veteran Guild staffer.

Jay Fernandez of the "Hollywood Reporter" says the hiring of both means Tinseltown can stop holding its breath over the possibility of another crippling strike.

Jay Fernandez: The moderate forces and the new interim national executive director and new chief negotiator that have been appointed are gonna try to get negotiations going with the producers as soon as possible and try to nail down a deal within a matter of weeks.

Watt: Those moderate forces have also replaced SAG's negotiating committee with a less partisan task force they call the "eyes and ears of the board." Entertainment lawyer and blogger Jonathan Handel told "AirTalk" that "eyes and ears" means a weaker bite.

Jonathan Handel: It can't close a deal. It's not gonna be taking the lead in the negotiations, it looks like. I think what you're gonna see is a dynamic where it's gonna be John McGuire and David White, you know, taking the lead in these negotiations... accompanied by the task force.

Watt: Handel added that people throughout the entertainment industry respect McGuire, and praise White for his intellect and his cool demeanor under fire. Both may help to promote a new, constructive quiet on the set.