Dog Days

Eurostar ready to roll from St. Pancras Station in London.

Eurostar ready to roll from St. Pancras Station in London.

I want to talk about the blossoming business that is brewing during this encouraging spring/ summer season. Things like flowers, the loving the opportunities to enjoy the good life at home, the Screen Actors Guild Board sending out the new contracts for approval and, of course, pets.
As I walk our doggie, Skye, by the fragrant and gorgeous gardens in our neighborhood, his isn’t the only tail that is wagging. As a long time (55 years, yikes!) member of the Screen Actors Guild, I’m relieved and grateful that the end of the arduous and controversial nego-tiations for a feature-primetime deal has resulted in a beneficial contract. Ratification will be in progress as this column is published. I am voting a resounding “Yes.” Such appre-ciation to the members of the negotiating team. The refreshed team (put in place by the refreshed SAG Board members) succeeded in achieving an appealing contract, excellent for the middle-class actor. Sam Freed, SAG’s second VP says, “Ratification will not only guarantee increases in terms and conditions but it will end the uncertainty that working without a contract has caused. Production can gear up once again, and we can get back to work. The recent changes that the new board has made are bearing fruit.” Amen. And here is a clear-cut accomplishment, Freed continues, “Because of the prolonged period of these negotiations, this contract has a term of only two years! This was a hard-fought concession that will allow our contract to expire with our sister unions and permit the option of joint negotiations in the future.”
After this is ratified, may there be peace in the Valley and a reunion of the unions. AFTRA and SAG negotiating together as they have been for decades. Here are a few specifics. SAG’s deal includes a 3.5% annual hike in minimums, a 3% salary hike in the first year plus a 0.5% gain in pension and health contributions in the first year and a 3.5% salary increase in the second. AFTRA’s three-year deal, unsuc-cessfully opposed last summer by current SAG President Alan Rosenberg and the hardliners of Membership First, contains similar provisions but with an additional year of increases. What a difference a year makes. Let the ratification take place and all concerned get back to work; standing together, coming toge-ther.
Speaking of reunions, it’s nice to have my husband back home. He’s full of stories (Lawrence and Lawrence will share), and now busy plotting next year’s adven-tures. David interjects, “Pardon please, JJ, but I can’t contain myself. Gotta rave a bit about my trip on Eurostar from its awesome new terminal at London’s St. Pancras Station to Lille, France (it also zips along to Brussels or to Paris). It is, hands down, the best of all possible ways to go. First Class gets you into the comfy, food, drink and journal-filled lounge and then into super elegant coaches that offer top-notch service and a terrific meal as you whiz to your destination. My trip was only 90 minutes from one city center to the other. Très chic, Eurostar!”
That’s so David! However, I’m blown away by Eurostar and for 90 minutes, any class seat will be fine with me. Meanwhile we have a year at home, except for a few short assignments. Time to enjoy good stuff in the community.
The Television Academy has been offering excellent programs. In our short time home, we’ve enjoyed evenings with the casts of “Grey Gardens” and “Mad Men.” Pretty good hearing chat from the excellent and gorgeous Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore. Can Emmy’s be split in two? And John Hamm? Yep, just what you’d dream for. Executive Producer, Matthew Weiner, was munificent in sharing his vision. Also pleasing the full house were actors John Slattery, Vincent Kartheiser, January Jones, Christina Hendricks and Elisabeth Moss. Can an Emmy be split in four? Bravo Academy and to all the generous players.
So much more to talk about but my words are used up. Until next time local actors, remember to vote YES on the SAG contract. We’ll talk…