WHO’S WHO ENTERTAINMENT
Well-Known Join Unfamiliar Names in Leader Ranks
John S. Clark
Union: National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians/Communications Workers of America
Background: Graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, N.J. B.A. Mathematics 1971 Started at NBC in 1967 as a vacation relief engineer Was engineer on NBC’s weekend “Monitor” radio show, in addition to various news radio and sports shows First full-time union position came in 1982 as chairman of the grievance committee for Local 11 in New York Became Local 11 vice president in 1984, president in ’87 Became president of NABET-CWA when the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians and the Communications Workers of America merged in 1994 Married, lives in suburban New Jersey.
Responsibilities: Recently completed renewal of national NBC contract representing NABET-CWA members in New York, Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles Negotiations wrapped up in March; workers received four-year contract with annual 3 percent raises Negotiations for national contract with ABC coming up next year Has been involved with contract negotiations since 1987… Presently involved in negotiations with NBC to work out agreement concerning integration of Telemundo stations in Chicago and Los Angeles In L.A., trying to work out agreement with IATSE concerning combination of Fox stations KTTV and KCOP NABET represents workers at KTTV.
Buzz: Played major role in negotiations that led to merger between NABET and CWA. Assisted then-NABET president James P. Nolan, and was chief draftsman of the merger agreement Comes from union family Both father and grandfather were NBC broadcasting employees and members of IATSE Father was involved in contract negotiations at IATSE As chairman of the grievance committee, worked with management on member complaints. “It was a way to help people on the job. I thought that was something I’d like to full time,” he says Likes opera and stamp collecting.
Union: Directors Guild of America
Background: One of the industry’s best-known woman directors Connecticut native with a passion for the novels of Eudora Welty Attended Rhode Island School of Design… Graduated from the New York University Institute of Film and Television with a master’s degree in fine arts Film repertoire includes movies depicting ethnic or regional eccentricities, such as “Rambling Rose” and “Lost in Yonkers,” as well as teen comedies “Valley Girl” and “Real Genius” Distant cousin to Calvin Coolidge Breeds Paso Fino horses on a ranch in the San Gabriel Mountains … Currently editing a movie.
Responsibilities: Outspoken advocate of protecting intellectual property rights as new technology makes the unauthorized modification and resale of movies easier Recently spoke out against video retailers that edit out profanity, violence and nudity from existing films and then sell the unauthorized versions as “family friendly” As co-chair of the DGA’s creative rights committee, she negotiates directly with studio heads Presides over western membership meetings, the guild’s board and guild-sponsored events.
Buzz: Became first woman president of the DGA when she replaced Jack Shea in March Has been involved in directors’ organizations since 1983 including the Western Directors Council Twice nominated for the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television: “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” (2000) and “If These Walls Could Talk 2” (2001) Says that the only way women directors make it in Hollywood is to not make waves.
John P. Connolly
Union: American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
Background: The veteran stage and character actor has appeared on “NYPD Blue,” “ER” and “Law & Order” (and once played a character named Pinky in a film called “Prayer of the Rollerboys”) Landed first television role on “Kate & Allie” because he knew all the words to the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song, according to his biography Career highlight was performing in a production of “The Iceman Cometh” with Al Pacino Native of Philadelphia, grew up in a working-class Irish family, studied history at LaSalle University and was awarded a fellowship to Temple University, where he earned a master’s degree in acting from the School of Fine Arts Has homes in the Hollywood Hills and Hoboken, N.J. Married with one adult son.
Responsibilities: Negotiating for better pay and working conditions for AFTRA’s 80,000 members Serves as spokesman and leads board of AFTRA, which represents stage actors, comedians, dancers, disc jockeys and newscasters with 30 branch offices nationwide Lobbies legislators and meets with industry officials to push agenda and address union concerns Pushed to get AFTRA’s financial house in order after the union struggled with deficits throughout the 1990s Says top priority is preparing union for a changing media landscape that offers more avenues for union workers, but fewer corporations controlling the business Other issues concern obtaining equal pay and benefits for Spanish-language broadcasters under duopoly ownership and resolving jurisdictional dispute with the American Guild of Musical artists Like presidents of other creative guilds, Connolly’s position is unpaid.
Buzz: Gregarious and energetic, Connolly is described as someone who refuses to dwell on setbacks Elected to two-year term in August 2001 Before that, pushed unsuccessful effort to merge AFTRA with Screen Actors Guild A former national board member of SAG, he has been outspoken proponent of increased cooperation among Hollywood unions Moved to Los Angeles in 1999 As head of 100-plus member board, Connolly says his influence “flows from the amount of confidence people are willing to show in you. You have to earn your authority.”
Title: Executive Secretary Treasurer
Union: L.A. County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO
Background: Grew up as a farm laborer in Dinuba, a Central Valley farming town Joined the United Farm Workers in 1969, took a full time job in 1973 and has been working for unions ever since In 1973 went to Toronto to organize a grape boycott, came back to organize farm workers in Salinas
From 1981 to 1987 organized hotel and casino workers in Nevada, then went to New York to clean up corrupt local unions. “When a U.S. attorney tells you to fire your business agents because they’re part of the Gambino crime family, that’s a little different than organizing farm workers,” he says Became political director of L.A. County Federation of Labor and was elected Executive Secretary Treasurer in 1996 Married to Maria Elena Durazo, president of Hotel and Restaurant Employees Local 11 Couple lives in Los Angeles with two sons, 11 and 24.
Responsibilities: County Federation of Labor is made up of 360 local unions with 810,000 members 150,000 of who work in the local entertainment industry Lobbying group that represents the IATSE locals, Screen Actors Guild, AFTRA, Teamsters, NABET-CWA, American Guild of Variety Artists, American Federation of Musicians, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Also represents various building trade locals that work in the studios, such as painters and commissary employees.
Buzz: Has been arrested 27 times, but these days is wielding power for the entertainment industry in Sacramento through friendships with Gov. Gray Davis Lobbying in Sacramento for tax breaks and other initiatives designed to keep production in California.
Title: Business Manager/Financial Secretary
Union: International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 40
Background: Born and raised in Marquette, Mich Went through IBEW apprenticeship from 1974 to 1978 Third-generation electrician, father was business manager of Local 1070 in Marquette Left Michigan because of decline in auto industry jobs. Traveled from 1982 to 1990, ended up in Los Angeles Started at Local 11, working in high-rise buildings Began working at Local 40 in 1991 with a job at Sony Studios Elected business manager in 2000 Married, lives in the San Fernando Valley.
Responsibilities: Primary officer of the local union, which has 618 members Has workers at all the major studios Each studio has three IBEW workshops: electrical construction and maintenance; heating, ventilation and air conditioning and sound installation Also has contracts with amusement parks Last summer negotiated a three-year contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers This spring will be negotiating with the National Electrical Contractors Association.
Buzz: IBEW is part of a local alliance of unions called the basic crafts. Includes Teamsters Local 399, Studio Utility Employees Local 724, IBEW Local 40, Plasters Modelers and Sculptures Union Local 755, and Plumbers Union local 78. Basic crafts negotiate as a unit. “Even though our contracts are somewhat different, we have an agreement that one union will not sign off unless they’re all approved,” he says. This dramatically increases the power of each individual union If one has a problem, they all strike together. “It’s more effective than just not having electricians, and gives us a lot of clout in Hollywood.”
Union: Professional Musicians, Local 47 (Los Angeles chapter of the American Federation of Musicians)
Background: Two-year stint with an Army band in Monterey, later played with Woody Herman, Buddy Morrow and Tommy Dorsey Did not have a permanent residence for three years Riverside native played Las Vegas from 1963 to 1969 before returning to California Played local venues, did radio and television Was in a theatrical show in the late 1980s when the production company went belly up without paying the band… Joined Local 47’s trial board in 1991 Later asked to join the executive board but was initially reluctant “In my mind, the union was run by a bunch of old gray haired guys. Now I’m one of those guys,” he says Santa Clarita resident Married with two daughters.
Responsibilities: Became vice president in 1996, won presidency in 1999 Has since been elected to the international executive board of the American Federation of Musicians, which sets policy for the United States and Canada Runs the 10,000-member union’s 40-person office Spends most of his time negotiating with local employers Has finalized more than 20 contracts this year Recently negotiated a new contract with the Hollywood Bowl Negotiating with the Pantages Theatre as well as the Greek Theatre and the Riverside Symphony.
Buzz: Several past heads of the Local 47 have been trumpet players, driven away from playing by the physical demands of the instrument No longer plays music, he says, because he is too busy with union duties “When I hit my 50s I kind of lost that burning desire,” he says Now enjoys having “a real job.”
Union: Screen Actors Guild
Background: Best remembered for her long-running role as the precocious Laura Ingalls on “Little House on the Prairie,” Gilbert is the youngest person ever to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Comes from a Hollywood family: grandfather, Harry Crane was a writer for “The “Honeymooners”; her sister, Sara Gilbert, was a regular on “Roseanne” Married to actor Bruce Boxleitner, Gilbert has four children, all boys Settled long-running libel suit in 1999 with the National Enquirer over a story that questioned her fitness as a parent. No information on the settlement was made public.
Responsibilities: Gilbert is involved in efforts to lobby for legislation to help slow runaway production and work on negotiating new contracts with producers and talent agents As president, she has limited power to set the agenda and control the budget Key issue has been enforcement of SAG’s Global Rule One, which calls for foreign productions to pay guild members the same rates as in the United States and to adhere to guild-approved working conditions Earlier this month, the Australian performer’s union agreed to implement the rule Gilbert led failed effort this spring to get new franchise agreement approved with talent agents A showdown is looming with agents, who seek looser investment rules.
Buzz: Initially considered a mouthpiece for the old SAG leadership that was bounced from power when her predecessor, William Daniels, was elected in 1999, Gilbert has proven to be a more determined leader than many anticipated Invited to Washington recently by First Lady Laura Bush to take part in a literacy campaign, where she took the opportunity to brief administration staff members on runaway production and copyright issues Election irregularities (unrelated to her campaign) forced the most recent SAG election to be re-run this year Promised to tone down rhetoric among rival SAG factions, but Gilbert has been every bit as partisan as her predecessors Of the inevitable criticism directed at presidents of the divisive union, Gilbert says, “It rolls off my back. Nothing affects me, honestly. I couldn’t care less so long as the work gets done.”
Title: Broadcast Department Director
Union: American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
Background: Born in Chicago and raised in Gary, Ind. Married with a son, 6, and daughter, 2 Has law degree from Indiana University Attended graduate screenwriting program at University of Miami Has written six screenplays, none sold or produced Dreams of someday writing and producing a movie using organized labor as a backdrop.
Responsibilities: As main broadcasting negotiator for AFTRA, deals with 36 contracts setting wages and working conditions for about 1,000 disc jockeys, newspeople, talk show hosts and staff announcers in radio and television in the Los Angeles area Processes grievances, arbitration and unfair labor practice charges Now dealing with the controversial use of prerecorded programming by Clear Channel Communications Has been in negotiations with KFI-AM and KOST-FM since January, 2001 to limit such programming Assumed post in February says he is still putting together his department Previously worked as a broadcast labor representative for AFTRA.
Buzz: Reluctant to draw attention to himself in the media Believes consolidation is an overriding problem for workers, because as stations get larger, they increasingly want to cut costs by sharing talent Bemoans growth of broadcasting companies “It’s difficult when you’re dealing with a company that has that much clout, and yes, that makes life very difficult for my clients,” he says, adding that the attitude of large corporations is “we do what we want to do” Believes there are no victories in his line of work “It’s more about give and take.”
Title: Executive Director
Union: Writers Guild of America West
Background: Bachelor’s degree in economics from Purdue University and a master’s degree from the School of Industrial Relations at Cornell University Completed Executive Program at UCLA as 1990 class president Before college, served in the U.S. Army and the Merchant Marines An 18-year veteran of CBS’ industrial relations division Not a writer Lives in the Porter Ranch area with his wife and daughter.
Responsibilities: Chief negotiator of the WGA West Has turned his attention to improving the efficiency of the guild’s administration following negotiation of last three-year contract in 2001 Also coordinates day-to-day guild operations Represents 8,500 entertainment and news writers in the theatrical, broadcast, cable and new media industries Working with other guilds to prevent the Federal Communications Commission from lifting ownership cap that limits corporate consolidation Encouraged WGA board this month to support the Directors Guild of America in its fight against unauthorized third party editing of movies.
Buzz: Lead the WGA in several new provisions for writers in the guild’s 2001 contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers Helped improve residual payments from Fox, cable, foreign, made-for-pay television, video on demand and Internet broadcasts “He has a real sense of what the other side is thinking,” says WGA Assistant Executive Director Cheryl Rhoden Daniel Petrie Jr., guild president, says McLean was respectful of writers even while on the other side of the negotiating table Seen by guild leadership as savvy on creative and economic issues critical to writers.
A. Robert Pisano
Title: National executive director and chief executive
Union: Screen Actors Guild
Background: Prior to joining the Screen Actors Guild in 2001, Pisano was an executive vice president and vice chairman at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., where he functioned as a chief operating officer, overseeing the studio’s business activities Before beginning his studio career with Paramount Pictures in 1985, Pisano was a partner at O’Melveny & Myers Spent four years overseeing O’Melveny’s Paris office Born in San Jose and graduated from San Jose State University in 1965 Earned his law degree at Boalt Hall, the University of California, Berkeley Married, with four children.
Responsibilities: Oversees 375 employees at a union whose nearly 98,000 members most of whom haven’t had work as actors in years rarely agree on much Duties include everything from keeping tabs on contract negotiations and workplace violations to investing the guild’s pension funds and trying to keep the peace When hired, Pisano was able to secure privileges unavailable to previous chief executives notably, the ability to reallocate money within the budget set by the board and final say on all personnel decisions.
Buzz: Pisano’s hiring signaled to many that SAG was serious about internal reform Admired for his even-handedness and, because he is untainted by previous SAG politics, able to command respect from the two main union factions Tends to support the objectives of SAG President Melissa Gilbert A pet issue for Pisano is the dangers of vertical integration in the entertainment industry Has had some success reigning in SAG’s bloated national board and unwieldy administrative structure Replaced several senior officials and supported the move to cut the board from 107 to 69 seats, though he was criticized for getting rid of popular government relations director Lance Simmens.
Leo T. Reed
Title: Secretary Treasurer
Union: International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 399
Background: Born in Hawaii In 1958 went to Colorado State on a football scholarship, left for the NFL Played for Houston Oilers in 1961 season On the Honolulu police force from 1964-70 Later managed a nightclub One evening saved surfer Tony Cousimano, now president of Hollywood Teamsters local 399, from a gang of Hawaiian surfers “I told the locals leave the kid alone, and then I brought him into my club,” he remembers After one-year teaching stint, joined the Teamsters in Hawaii in 1974 as a business agent doing organizing and negotiating contracts Moved to Los Angeles in 1979 and worked as a driver on the movie “Carbon Copy” starring a young Denzel Washington Became a business agent for the Hollywood local in 1981, and treasurer in 1988.
Responsibilities: Negotiates Teamsters contracts for 4,110 members with all the major studios in 13 western states Represents drivers (“If it rolls, it’s ours”), dispatchers, animal handlers and trainers, automotive mechanics, location managers, clerical employees and prop houses, among others Recently finished negotiating a four-year contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers which included a 23 percent increase in monthly pension Also negotiates more than a hundred contracts with independent film producers each year Union has had about 140 informational picket demonstrations in the past 12 years.
Buzz: Teamsters took heat in 1994 when a fight broke out at a Teamsters picket line in Beverly Hills, injuring a young actor portraying convicted murderer Erik Menendez Acknowledges union’s rough reputation, but says violence is a thing of the past “We’re the new Teamsters. We tell our people ‘Please, no violence,’ and they adhere to it,” he says Says the power of his local comes from the Teamsters at large, which can shut down a production in a moment’s notice. “We get support from the Coca-Cola drivers and the bread drivers, everyone. Our brother Teamsters will always support us,” he says.
Union: Writers Guild of America West
Background: Daughter of “King Kong” star Fay Wray and writer Robert Riskin, who won an Academy Award for his adapted screenplay of Frank Capra’s “It Happened One Night” Married to writer/producer David Rintels Was licensed psychologist for 15 years before breaking into television production in 1989 Writing career took off several years later when she adapted Willa Cather’s novel “My Antonia” for a television production Served two terms on board before being elected president Goes by Vicky.
Responsibilities: As president, Riskin serves as spokeswoman of the 8,500-member Writers Guild and chairs 19-member board Works closely with John McLean, the guild’s national executive director, to implement board policy Current guild contract expires in 2004 Key issues on agenda include preparing for next round of contract negotiations with producers and raising attention about the dangers of media consolidation and vertical integration Has used position to speak out against the Federal Communications Commission proposal to relax media ownership rules Also sits on the guild’s health care and pension committee and has urged other members to take a more active role in union governance.
Buzz: Spurred to get involved in guild politics in the mid-1990s when cable television viewership was exploding and minimums and residuals for writers were stagnating Colleagues credit her with being an articulate spokeswoman for creative issues facing writers and with bringing tenaciousness and energy to the job Member of the International Women’s Forum, a trustee of the American Film Institute and on the advisory board of the Museum of Television and Radio. Candidacy for president was given a boost when former president and “West Wing” producer John Wells decided not to run for re-election “I have an obligation to be as much a listener as a leader,” she says.
Jay D. Roth
Title: National Executive Director
Union: Directors Guild of America
Background: Born and raised in New York Graduated from the University of Vermont and Boston University Law School Before joining the guild, practiced law for 25 years As managing partner of Taylor, Roth, Bush & Geffner, specialized in representing entertainment guilds, labor organizations and pension, health and welfare funds Focused on labor, entertainment, bankruptcy and transactional matters Counseled the DGA, Screen Actors Guild and Writers Guild of America on international copyright and intellectual property rights issues Served as counsel to several industry guilds in the 1993 GATT negotiations, and was a member of the U.S. delegation to the treaty negotiations at the World Intellectual Property Organization Says he likes to “play golf, grow tomatoes and read a lot.” Wife is said to be a good poker player. One daughter, 24.
Responsibilities: A prominent negotiator for the DGA, which has more than 12,000 members working in the U.S. and abroad Helped negotiate three-year contract this year that adjusted the residuals structure for directors and addressed issues of creative freedom raised by the advent of digital movie technology Since 1995, has launched initiatives to improve strategic planning, communications and technology in the guild Lectures extensively around the world on matters related to the entertainment industry, especially intellectual property rights and labor issues.
Buzz: Increasingly concerned about piracy as new technology makes the manipulation and resale of content easier Began his career as a civil rights lawyer handling cases of discrimination against women working in the airline industry and African Americans working in ports Also worked on civil rights cases for prisoners Alarmed about the negative effects of technology on intellectual property “The entire industry has concerns about piracy and intellectual property,” he says. “For the DGA and directors, this is at the heart of the issue” Said to be working very closely with Thomas Short, president of IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees).