We start this week with the biggest news
in a while in the SAG Strike. The SAG made a major power play so that,
in my opinion, the SAG Strike will never happen.
According to multiple sources including the Hollywood Reporter, Screen
Actors Guild national executive director and chief negotiator Doug
Allen was summarily removed from his posts by board members critical
of his handling of the guild's TV/theatrical contract negotiations.
Monday afternoon, Allen sent a farewell e-mail to staff members that
indicated that he had acceded to the general counsel's notification of
Allen was replaced with former SAG general counsel David White as
interim national executive director; naming guild senior adviser John
McGuire as chief negotiator for all contracts, including the
TV/theatrical contract in negotiation; and replacing the TV/theatrical
negotiating committee with a task force, which will represent the
board of directors.
The swiftness of the move suggests just how impatient moderate forces
had become with Allen and SAG President Alan Rosenberg's stalling
tactics at an emergency board meeting two weeks ago. While the written
assent provision of the constitution is often used for passage of
mundane logistical issues, this is the first time a majority on the
board has used it for such an important action.
The moderate forces represented by the Unite for Strength party
indicated that they took the action reluctantly and as a last resort.
The move has the support of all but one of the national board members
from SAG's New York and regional branch divisions and all in the
Hollywood division except those affiliated with the Membership First
"These much-needed changes will allow SAG to chart a new course," said
the Unite for Strength message delivered to SAG members via e-mail.
"We will work to secure a TV/Theatrical Contract that can be sent to
members with a positive recommendation and to effectively resolve all
our outstanding contracts."
Some in the moderate wing hope to have a face-to-face meeting with the
AMPTP by the end of next week, scheduling permitting, but the decision
is now up to McGuire. Their goal appears to be to hammer the current
deal into a shape that will be ratified by the membership and the
board. SAG members have been working under the parameters of the
previous contract since it expired June 30.
"We will also work to rebuild vital relationships in the entertainment
and labor communities," the Unite for Strength letter said, "and to
re-establish Screen Actors Guild as a respected and powerful
institution, protecting and defending performers nationwide."
What do you know? This move accomplished two things: a) removing a
very stubborn obstacle to getting a deal for its members which have
not worked since a contract since June 30, 2008 and b) making sure
that AFTRA does not have a 100% monopoly on power and prestige in the
industry. And it's going to work. The deal WILL get done. With the
economic climate in flux, and the obstacle removed...it’s over. Allen
tried a long ball Hail Mary option...and it was intercepted in the end
zone. Game over.
Here’s an update on Kathy Cox, the $1M
winner on "Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader" who filed Bankruptcy.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that the investment firm
employed to create a fund for distributing the money to three public
schools for blind and deaf students returned the check to Fox
Broadcasting Co. in December, according to Cox and her attorney.
It is not clear when, or if, the schools will receive the $1 million
Cox won last August as a contestant on "Are You Smarter than a Fifth
Grader?" Karen White, an attorney for the Coxes, said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, lawyers representing the creditors of Kathy Cox and her
husband, John, are considering making a claim on the money in the
Another option, White said, is for Fox to simply keep the $1 million.
A Fox spokesman said the company was not prepared to comment.
Sad story all around. Let us hope it can get straightened out so that
Ms. Cox can at least try to keep her promise.
We come to the yearly "ringer" story
that comes out of the early audition rounds of American Idol. Last
year it was Kristy Lee Cook and Carly Smithson...this year it’s Joanna
Pacitti. The 24 year old singer, who has made it to the Hollywood
Round, is not the true unknown that people want to believe American
Idol is looking for.
According to MSNBC, She was in Annie at the age of 11, moved to
Hollywood as a teen, signing to A&M records. She eventually released
the 2006 album, "This Crazy Life," on Geffen.
She has appeared on the soundtrack for "Legally Blonde," where she
sang "Watch Me Shine," and she sang "Out From Under" from the "Bratz"
movie. It was re-recorded by Britney Spears on her new CD, "Circus."
She was also featured on MTV’s True Life.
Some people on the official American Idol Forums are not happy that
she has made it this far. "The point is that because she is a
‘semi-pro’… she already has a built in fan base and voting block. That
skews the competition in her favor, especially in the early rounds,"
poster Marcdamon wrote. "They need to change the rules to only allow
for untapped talent. Joanna has already been on 2 major labels, has
had a cover done by Britney and 3 songs on 3 different movie
soundtracks," Davesnay wrote. "She is taking valuable space away from
somebody who hasn’t already had 5-6 chances."
Okay, okay...here’s the deal. Idol’s rules state: You have to have
been dropped from a label and not have a current record deal. There
have been many Idol contestants (including last year’s winner David
Cook), who have released independent albums on their own. And you know
how this works out...if Joanna Pacitti doesn’t get past Hollywood Week
then this is a moot point yet again., If she does...she shouldn’t get
past YOU the voters. You are the ultimate control in all of this. If
you don’t like the judges decision, then vote Joanna Pacitti out.
That’s it. That is the beauty of Idol.
Now, readers of this column know that I
have been heaping a ton of well-deserved criticism. But this week, I
am going to praise The Price Is Right. The reason is that after the
perfect bid debacle this past December, the prize department of the
show has been working overtime to make sure that doesn’t happen. Or at
least to make it interesting. We have seen a trip to Chile to swim in
the World’s Largest Swimming Pool, a VIP Trip to Vegas, and a VIP Trip
to the Daytona 500 in the showcases. We have also seen people
represent prizes such as Gold’s Gym and a chef’s package.
We have seen high fashion brand names all over the place including
Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole, Burberry, Tiffany, Louis Vuitton, Tag
Heuer and others. The car lineup has changed as well, with a
Volkswagen GTI, a Cadillac Escalade Hybrid and a Toyota Prius thrown
into the mix.
This is a start. A very good one. The prizes have been unique and
interesting. I am surprised it took that perfect bid, but at least it
Random Newsbits time:
– Congratulations to Wheel of Fortune which taped episode #5,000 on
– Nickelodeon is FINALLY getting back into the Kids Game Show Arena
with a show called Brain Surge.
- "America’s Next Top Model" returns for it’s 12th Cycle on February
25th on the CW.
– "Deal or No Deal"’s syndicated version reached the magic 2.0 rating,
pretty much guaranteeing a 2nd season renewal.
– Ace Young gets to host American Idol Extra on Fox Reality.
– Countdown’s ratings in the UK have risen since Jeff Stelling and
Rachel Riley took over.
– The Amazing Race cast is released including the first ever deaf
contestant Mark Riley. He is competing with his mom. "I thought it
would be easy because my mother and I have always communicated really
well," the longtime "Amazing Race" fan, who doesn't speak or read
lips, said through an interpreter. "In the airports, my mom had to do
all of the work because she had to do all of the talking. It was kind
of hard for me to depend on her to do all of that."
– GSN launches the 2009 Worldwide Web Games(W3Games).
– Bob Barker pledges $1.5M to move Billy, the only elephant remaining
at the Los Angeles Zoo, to the facility run by the Performing Animal
– Donny Osmond may or not be on the next cast of Dancing With the
Stars. Cindy McCain is definitely not.
– Rupert Boneham of Survivor appears at a local school education
– "13: Fear is Real" moves to Friday on the CW.
– "The Girls of Hedsor Hall", the Donald Trump produced show finally
premieres on MTV on February 9. It was originally called "Ladette to
– Paris Hilton has ditched Brittany Flickinger and is looking for yet
another BFF. Casting has begun for Season 2 on MTV.
– Chuck Woolery debuts his nationally syndicated radio show March
Jason Block has more spatulas to go
around. E-mail him at email@example.com