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Details of SAG-AFTRA Ad Pact Released by Hollywood Reporter

Alleged details of the recently negotiated tentative pact between SAG-AFTRA and the advertising industry have been posted by Jonathan Handel of The Hollywood Reporter. Citing a source close to the negotiations, the reported points include a one-time 6% wage increase at the beginning of the 3-year deal, an increase in Pension & Health contributions from 15.5% to 16.8%.

If accurate, these numbers are far from official, as the agreement still needs to be approved by the union’s national board of directors at its April 20-21 meeting. At that time, details of the deal will officially be released to the public. Following approval by the board, the new agreement would go to SAG-AFTRA membership for ratification.

See the story in the Reporter here.

David White Named Dual Trustee for SAG-AFTRA’s Still-Separate Benefit Plans

In an apparent effort to streamline the process of merging SAG-AFTRA’s divergent health and retirement plans, the performers union has named national executive director David White to the AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds board of trustees, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Despite the merger of SAG and AFTRA last year, the two plans – SAG’s Pension & Health Plan and AFTRA’s Health & Retirement fund – remain separate entities, affiliated neither with each other nor with SAG-AFTRA. This has been a disappointment to performers who hoped the merger of the unions would likewise bring a merger of the plans; indeed, it was one of the key selling points of the merger. Actors who hope to qualify for benefits still must do so via one fund or the other, rather than an amalgamation of both… making it difficult when their work is spread across film and TV jobs.

In becoming a trustee for the Health & Retirement Fund, White becomes a member of both trustee boards, as he is a sitting member on the board for SAG’s Pension & Health Plan. SAG-AFTRA membership and leaders hope his dual role will help bring the two plans together and put in place the final piece of the merger, which was made official last March.

Read the article from Jonathan Handel at the Hollywood Reporter.

Media Services Releases 3 New Apps for the Production Industry

Showbiz-Labor-Guide-AppMedia Services and Showbiz Software are proud to announce the release of three brand-new mobile apps for iPad and Android tablets. As first reported in the Hollywood Reporter, the production tools were released yesterday in conjunction with the annual Labor Guide Launch Party in Los Angeles, held at the W Hollywood.

The flagship app is the Showbiz Labor Guide, which mirrors the printed edition of the same name, but with easy touchscreen lookup of any wage rate from film and TV union agreements spanning the United States, such as IATSE, Teamsters, SAG-AFTRA, DGA and WGA.

Showbiz-Labor-Guide-App-InteriorThe drill-down menu allows producers and accountants to select region, agreement and occupation code to get wage and hour minimums sorted by schedule (Daily, Weekly, On Call, etc).

The Showbiz Directory app is a standalone mobile database of entertainment industry vendors and crew members in production centers across the country. Media Services eForms is a series of fillable, signable forms for employees working on film, TV and commercial productions. Many of the forms are specific to Media Services’ payroll division: now clients and their crew can fill out start paperwork and send it directly from their tablet devices.

All three apps are currently available in Apple’s App Store; the Labor Guide and Directory can also be found in the Google Play store. The Labor Guide was released with the introductory price of $19.99, while the other two apps are free.

In conjunction with the rollout, Media Services and Showbiz Software raffled off three iPads to attendees of last night’s launch party, where several hundred were in attendance. The New York launch party is slated for December 6 at Chelsea Manor. Register for it here.

Beijing Treaty Could Be Boon for Performers Worldwide

The diplomatic conference to finalize a new international treaty for performers was successfully concluded Tuesday as negotiators from the World Intellectual Property Organization’s member states signed the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances. The treaty was named in recognition of the city that hosted the final round of negotiations, a poignant location given the fact that China had long been viewed as a copyright scofflaw by the greater IP community.

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry (Credit: Yuan Wenming)

The treaty itself is designed to give audiovisual performers the same kinds of copyright protections other artists enjoy worldwide, including not only possible participation in revenue streams, but also so-called “moral” rights: how and when the performers’ images are used and for what purpose, as well as the right to be clearly identified whenever practical. The document brings to a conclusion 12 years of negotiations.

Though talks began in the late 1990’s, the process broke down over disputes between producers and actors regarding the transfer of rights to audiovisual performances. A compromise was finally reached by SAG-AFTRA and the Motion Picture Association, paving the way for the treaty to move ahead.

“The conclusion of the Beijing Treaty is an important milestone toward closing the gap in the international rights system for audiovisual performers and reflects the collaborative nature of the multilateral process,” said WIPO director general Francis Gurry. “The international copyright framework will no longer discriminate against one set of performers.”

The International Federation of Actors (FIA), a non-governmental organization representing performers’ unions from over 70 countries, was instrumental in negotiating the treaty. SAG-AFTRA, which had representatives among the FIA delegates, applauded the treaty, saying it would extend important economic and moral rights to actors and other audiovisual performers.

“Actors and other audiovisual performers have long needed the crucial protections of this treaty, and now we can finally have them,” said co-presidents Ken Howard and Roberta Reardon in a statement.

The treaty must now be ratified by some 30 eligible parties, including countries and certain intergovernmental organizations. The process could take up to a year to finalize. Performers from around the world, including American Meryl Streep, Brazilian Sonia Braga, Chinese Mei Baojiu and Spanish actors Javier Bardem and Antonio Banderas – appealed for adoption of the treaty.

“With new rights to proper compensation for the use of our work and control over the use of our images and likenesses, actors will have important tools to protect themselves around the world,” said the statement from SAG-AFTRA. “This rising tide can lift the boats of all actors worldwide.”

Video: Actors on Beijing Treaty

SAG-AFTRA Hangs Its Shingle

SAG-AFTRA Nat’l Exec Director David White displays the merged union’s new banner.

The newly merged performer’s union now known as SAG-AFTRA has officially hung its banner in the membership lobby of 5757 Wilshire Blvd. A week ago, the votes were in from the memberships of both SAG and AFTRA, overwhelmingly approving a merger that created the new entity. SAG members voted 82 percent in favor, while AFTRA members approved it with an 86 percent majority, easily exceeding the 60 percent threshold needed for both unions’ membership for passage.

The merger became effective immediately, bringing under a single union banner more than 150,000 actors, announcers, broadcasters journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists and other media professionals.

“With this historic vote, members of both unions have affirmed one of the most basic principles of unionism: Together we are stronger,” said SAG-AFTRA national co-president Ken Howard. “This merger, the result of months – really years – of planning, brings together the best elements of both unions and positions us well to thrive in the changing 21st-century media landscape.”

“The merger of these two unions is a huge victory for our members, and it is a monumental achievement for the labor movement,” said SAG-AFTRA national co-president Roberta Reardon. “I invite all members, locally and nationally, to join with us in building a successor union worthy of AFTRA and SAG.”

As SAG president, Howard had been working with then AFTRA president Reardon on a merger plan since July 2010. The two leaders toured the nation to listen to the membership and facilitate discussion on establishing a common vision for a merged union. Last June, elected SAG and AFTRA leaders formed the Group for One Union and created work groups to break out the specifics of how the new entity would be organized.

Questions still remain about future governance and how the still-separate pension and health plans will be consolidated. But for now, the banner is hung, and SAG-AFTRA sets sail into the future.

A Minor Issue for Reality Shows

The question sometimes arises as to whether a minor in a reality series would be subject to California’s child labor laws, especially in the case of a “day-in-the-life” type of show in which the minor is following his or her general daily routine.

Whether or not the production is described as “reality” is irrelevant. The Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) Order 12 regulating wages, hours and working conditions in the Motion Picture Industry has jurisdiction over “any industry, business or establishment operated for the purpose of motion picture or television film production.” And the IWC defines an employer as any person who directly or indirectly employs control over the wages, hours and working conditions of any person.

Even if the minor will be carrying out his daily routines, to a certain extent he will be subject to the direction and control of the director, producer and other crew members. Even that small level of control is enough to create an employer/employee relationship. The IWC defines work as “the time during which an employee is subject to the control of an employer, and includes all the time the employee is suffered or permitted to work, whether or not required to.”

All minor laws would apply: work permits, teachers, hours worked, etc.

‘SAG-AFTRA’ Could Be a Reality by March

SAG LogoAFTRA Logo

A proposed merger of performer unions SAG and AFTRA could be on the table for membership ratification as early as February, with a vote due back in March, according to this article from the Hollywood Reporter’s Jonathan Handel. A confidential source close to the discussion, which is officially still under wraps, tells Handel the proposed new union would be managed by “co-presidents” for an interim period, but would eventually elect a single president, national executive vice president, secretary-treasurer and a national board. Ten additional VP spots are rumored to be in the works for various cities and occupational categories, e.g. actors and singers.

Up to 500 delegates, including board members and office holders, would meet at a convention every other year under the proposed plan. A key change for AFTRA would be tougher guidelines for joining the union, as currently the only requirement is payment of an initiation fee. However, the source says entry may be easier than under current SAG guidelines, with some allowances made for education and training level.

The proposed merger plan is slated to be presented in full to the SAG and AFTRA boards via videoconference on Sunday. The two orgs will then break out separately the following weekend to discuss the proposal. Handel estimates that the boards of both unions will approve the merger as proposed, and that SAG president Ken Howard and AFTRA president Roberta Reardon will make the announcement with a call to ratification at the SAG Awards January 30.

Labor Guide Launch Party Rocks Hollywood

We had a blast with all our friends at the Labor Guide Launch Party Los Angeles last night at The Station Hollywood in the W Hotel! Prizes were raffled, Labor Guide Lemonades and appetizers consumed, and scintillating conversation exchanged at our fourth annual running of the event. Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate with us and to our generous sponsors for helping us make it all happen. Already looking forward to next year!

“We’re lucky to have such wonderful sponsors and guests, who just seem to make the party better every year,” said Leimomi Coloretti, Media Services director of outreach and events. “It’s truly an honor to host this event, where we get a chance to connect with all these amazing people in the industry and learn about the great things they’re working on. Thanks to everyone who made it out!”

NYC Debut of Labor Guide Launch Party

Labor Guide Launch NYC at Taj LoungeMedia Services and Showbiz Software hit the town with hundreds of our closest friends Thursday night, as we hosted the NYC debut of our Labor Guide Launch Party. Already a staple event in Los Angeles each autumn, the party celebrates the annual release of Showbiz Software’s flagship product, the Showbiz Labor Guide. The New York installment was a first, and given the success of the event, it won’t be the last.

More than 300 film, television, and commercial producers, accountants, and other production professionals joined us for the inaugural New York celebration at the Taj Lounge in New York’s Chelsea district, enjoying networking, drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and prize drawings.

The Showbiz Labor Guide is an essential budgeting and accounting tool for film, television, commercials, Internet and music video production.  Published annually, the guide lists up-to-date rates and contracts from all major guilds and unions including IATSE, DGA, WGA, SAG as well as working conditions for every major production center in North America including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Canada.

The New York event featured a special presentation of Media Services’ new software endowment, the Showbiz Software Grant Award, to the New York chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. The organization, which hosts the local New York Emmy Awards each year, accepted two Producer’s Toolkit packages which will be redistributed to academy members. The packages contain copies of Showbiz Budgeting,

NATAS NY Exec Director Jacqueline Gonzalez accepts grant from Showbiz Software on behalf of the NY Emmys.

Showbiz Scheduling, the Showbiz Labor Guide and Final Draft. NATAS NY executive director Jacqueline Gonzalez was on hand to accept the grant award.

“We are committed to supporting the entertainment industry and are excited this grant will help emerging talent with what we consider the best software tools in the industry,” said Media Services’ VP of Sales and Software Development Steve Bizenov of the award. “New York is home to one of this nation’s top production centers and we are thrilled to be part of the community.”

Looking forward to the L.A. Labor Guide Launch Party next Thursday!

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