The Screen Actors Guild Election of 2004: My
Candidacy for the National Board and Hollywood Division:
Record of Past Service | Log of Campaign
Events : September 4, 2004 |
Anti-Merger with AFTRA under any of the past scenarios presented.
Open-minded about future efforts.
Anti-2004 theatrical contract extension. Why abandon the strategic
advantage of essentially co-terminus contracts with the Screen Writers Guild,
West? The supposed "gains" were not worth the bargaining leverage lost.
Union Bargaining 101 was ignored here. Why?
Pro-Elimination of Three-Background-Voucher Method of Union Entry. This
system has been a cancer on the union for years. It is inherently
corrupting and hurts members' efforts to get a share of the already-scarce union
Pro-Efforts to deal affirmatively with the unequal playing field presented by
many instances of foreign production (especially Canada) competing with US
Record of Past Service:
Committee work began immediately after joining in 1992.
Ran successfully for the Board the first year I was eligible in 1994. Won as
the highest vote getter that year in Hollywood.
Re-elected in 1997, and 2000.
Ran unsuccessfully for president in 2002.
Author of nearly a score of research studies, procedural challenges and
critiques taking on such matters as election vote allocation, director
replacement procedures, name duplication procedures, theatrical contract
bargaining positions, etc.
Produced a documentary video of an annual EEOC Career Day event hosted at USC
and organized by me.
Committees: EEOC, Guild Government Review, Background Actors, Name
Log of Campaign Events:
July 14, 2004: I filed my candidacy documents at SAG HQ at about
2:00 pm. I wanted to attend the Membership First meeting at the Stella
Adler Theater this afternoon at 3:00 pm. on the Hasbro waiver, present source of
much controversy, but could not because of a prior commitment. All reports
I have read on the Hasbro waiver, which preemptively surrenders members'
individual rights to negotiate compensation for use of their earlier
performances in newly-produced Hasbro commercials in exchange for Hasbro
contributions to the Industry health clinics that serve SAG members, is that
it's yet another example of the sort of ill-conceived concessions to the
producers that do not serve the membership's interests.
August 14, 2004: Unpublished letter to the LA Times Calendar Section
Editor that I sent in response to two pieces: 1) a review of the Royce Hall
performance of the all-women, Chinese classical music group, 12 Girls Band, and
2) my take on the recent effort to screen D.W. Griffith's "The Birth of A
Nation" in Los Angeles:
I was among the full house at Royce Hall for 12 Girls Band on Thursday, August
12. Dan Heckman's review reflected my reaction to the performance though I
fear he was treading lightly for fear of cultural offense, especially given
the wildly enthusiastic response of the overwhelmingly Asian audience there
I'm African American, but I've lived in the Asia/Pacific region, have many
Asian friends, the rest of the litany that's mandatory today before comments
like the following about an ethnic-specific event involving an ethnicity not
The group appears to have been assembled and packaged as a "pop/novelty/eye
candy" act. The group, as their eponymous name indicates, is all female. Why?
The women are too uniformly young and pretty for their assembly to have come
out of anything like a "blind" audition process one might see for putting
together a serious, modern, Western, classical orchestra. But,
there's nothing new in packaging pop groups on looks first and musicianship
second, if at all. And mind you, I really enjoyed them. So what's my beef?
Well, as Heckman observed, these women clearly are fine musicians. The
potential for this band being on the cutting edge of the awakening of Western
audiences to the richness and wonder of Chinese classical music is
tremendous. But, their presentation at Royce allowed them far too little
opportunity, aside from the very short, isolated "Leonard
Bernstein-teaches-you-about-the-orchestra-style music appreciation moments
when they could really "cook."
Most of their performance, apparently confined to what was most compatible to
the relentless back-up tapes, involved Suzuki-Saturday-night-recital-like
unison playing that must be hell to play night after night for such gifted
artists. Western audiences will appreciate these women as musicians and they
should be given the artistic space to perform as such here, even if that is
not part of their marketing in Asia. Western music, even classical music, but
certainly jazz and rock, thrives on a conversational approach
to performance. One instrument, or player gets a theme going, another takes
it up and transforms it, a third shades it yet another way, then perhaps they
coalesce around a given harmony or tension. That's what makes music
exciting, that conversation.
These women rarely look at one another as they play. They gaze directly at
the audience with a Stepfordian uniformity of smiles, much as a group of court
musicians would look at the nobility for whom they're playing, mindful only of
pleasing their patrons, not one another, not themselves. Though entertaining,
even fascinating, it was also disturbing in a way only life in Asia can
explain. This is a group designed to please, to entertain to be sure, but not
by one who is one's equal or possibly even one's superior as any great artist
is, to the likes of me certainly, and to most of the rest of us in my
experience. This band of 12 "girls" is not designed to challenge anything or
So, Las Vegas would appear to be their natural home, and if I were managing
this band, I'd book them into the biggest showroom I could get there, Mandalay
Bay or that room "Celine" and "Elton" work at Caesar's. Lots of dry ice,
lights, several costume changes, dragons, cute patter in Mandarin with
simultaneously-translated supertitles above the stage, opera style. I'd
insist on getting that sort of gig for the week of Lunar New Year. They
simply can't miss. I state unapologetically, that I'd pay big money to see
But when these women play, when they really play, and the erhu players make
tears come to your eyes with their plaintive human crys, you see how much more
they could be, how very much more they could say about China,
about themselves, about all of us.
I hope they get that chance.
Now, about "The Birth of a Nation":
I just think it's a shame that I had to go to Paris to see this stomach-churningly
racist, but undeniably-artful, groundbreaking film. I saw it at the
Cinematheque Francaise in the 1980's when they did a big Lillian Gish
"homage." I also got to see Miss Gish in person along with some of her other
films including "Orphans of the Storm," "Way Down East," and "The Wind."
Bless the French! It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I was grateful
for the opportunity. Bless Peace Corp too. It was my ticket abroad.
I think the real danger Confederate Griffith's film posed early in the 20th
century, when lynchings of black folk were a weekly, and often
several-per-week fixture of American life, is not present today. That is not
to say the film can be merely viewed as a historical curiosity. That would be
naive to the point of criminal negligence. But it should be viewable and
viewed here. I thought that was what all the carnage in Iraq was supposed to
As I said in these pages a couple of years ago, "Monsters Ball" is, for my
money, as unrealistic and distorting a portrayal of contemporary race
relations in the Old South as "Birth" was in its time. And "Monster's Ball"
has a lot more potential to spawn present-day racial mischief. But "Monsters
Ball" got no bomb threats directed at its screenings and was one of the
It's so much easier to be self-righteous against Mr. Griffith and Miss Gish
who are no longer around to defend themselves and their work, than it is to
call the very-much-with-us Mr. Thornton and Ms. Berry to account for theirs.
music fan (World and otherwise), movie fan (silents and talkies), unemployed
culture vulture and former SAG board member.
My phone no. is 310-216-5758, cellular: 310-733-6977.
August 28, 2004: I received my ballot in the mail and realized that my
Uniform Resource Locator (aka URL or web address) had been entered on the
candidates' brochure incorrectly. I decided to send Michelle Bennett,
SAG's National Director of Governance the following letter:
The text of my campaign statement is flawed in a way that puts me at a
disadvantage to other candidates. I included the URL for my website:
It has been printed in the Voters Guide as "www.eugene-
boggs.com," i.e., with the first part of the URL a line above the second
part. To a reader unacquainted with my site the URL appears to be
with the "dash" simply indicating the word break to move to the next line.
Going to the latter URL will not connect to my site.
What concerns me about this error is that there is no apparent reason for it
that would be a matter of chance or inadvertence.
The text I submitted personally to your office had my URL all on one line
where the dash as part of it was clear and all staff at SAG now, I am sure,
know that URLs are read literally by computers typically allowing for no
variances except letter case choice ("UPPER" and "lower" being read the
same). See the text as I sent it to your office below in the post script.
Do those words, "chance" and "inadvertence" sound familiar to you in the
context of previous election irregularities at SAG? They should. If not,
please review the files on the Grodin Report. Notice the "coincidence' that
the irregularities also involved me as a candidate.)
If the word break was necessary, it, at least, should have
boggs." Still, that is confusing as well. But, clearly, no such word
break was necessary. There was plenty of room within my text space to
include the whole URL, unbroken, on the last line of my statement.
It appears, rather, that a deliberate, too-clever-by-half, effort was made
to frustrate and sabotage voters in going to my website for more information
about me and my candidacy.
Obviously, I want an explanation, immediately. Yes, it is
unlikely in a post-election protest to the Department of Labor, that I shall
be able to prove (should I not win a three-year national seat) that, but for
this apparent chicanery, I would have placed higher than I place (wherever
that may be), but that makes this no less reprehensible as election practice
in a supposedly democratic union. Since I am not slated, perhaps the
thinking was, I could make little trouble since I have no political faction
backing me. Think again. I am certainly going to research other legal
remedies besides the Labor Department complaint.
With no remedy possible now, since the ballots are out, my only recourse
will be to go public with the strongest possible condemnation of SAG's
election administration that I can muster should an acceptable explanation
and remedy not be forthcoming.
Thank you for your attention to this matter, and I look forward to your
Roy Eugene Boggs, Jr.
SCREEN ACTORS GUILD, ELECTION 2004, CANDIDATEíS STATEMENT
OF EUGENE BOGGS:
B.A., Harvard; J.D., U.C.
Berkeley; licensed CA attorney since 1976,
specialty: employment/labor law. Former SAG Board member,
2002. Iím told Iím supposed to apologize because Iíve made
mostly as a lawyer, not an actor. I wonít. Historically,
background has served the membership well. Now, I think
needs me again: fighting for stronger contracts, against
pushing for greater union democracy and more rank-and-file
involvement, not less; opposing any instance of corruption
Iíd be honored to serve.
September 3, 2004: I received the e-mail from the Hollywood Division
Elections Committee announcing that corrective action with respect to my
candidate's statement and others would be taken.
September 4, 2004: I received my copy of the corrective "Message" in
the mail. If you have come to this site as a result of getting the
corrective mailer, welcome, and thank you for inquiring as to my candidacy.
If you see my efforts in this regard as "frivolous" and "wasteful" (as I'm sure
those who oppose my candidacy will so characterize this initiative) then I won't
get your vote. If, on the other hand, you see what I've done as fully
consistent with my abiding focus on internal union democracy, then perhaps
you'll consider supporting me, even if it requires sending for a replacement
The forces in the staff and board currently in control of SAG policy
have a consistent attitude and approach to rank-and-file participation in Guild
governance: decrease it: by lessening the number of members who can vote and who
can be candidates for Guild office, by making elections as indirect as possible,
by decreasing the frequency of elections. All these assaults on democracy
as portrayed as "cost cutting" measures. Well, so they are. That
cannot be denied since dictatorship is, by its nature, more "efficient" than
democracy. But it's a penny-wise-pound-foolish sort of efficiency which
will cost you a voice and active role in your union, and active member
participation in the very life's blood of trade unionism. Visit the
website of the heroic Association for Union Democracy at
www.uniondemocracy.org to learn
Turning the Screen Actors Guild into a sort of "auto club for actors" serves
the interests of administrators and jaded elected leaders who see you as the
ignorant "Great Unwashed" whose participation in union affairs is an annoyance
at best and, at worst, a real hindrance to leadership efforts to forge as
non-confrontational and collusive a relationship with Industry management
as possible, what they see as "constructive" and "pragmatic" labor policy.
Those of us who do not share this view, who, indeed, see it as the short route
to ruin for scripted performers in recorded media, must simply be purged from
any role in union governance. Hence the calls for qualified voting,
draconian, poll-tax-like restrictions on candidacy, indirect election of union
officers, elections every two, three or four? years instead of annually on a
staggered basis. All these initiatives come from one side of the debate
within the SAG community and they are all of a piece. They are,
ironically, presented by several members who have high national profiles as
progressive "small d" democrats on other issues, but they are the most hidebound
of "Tories" on democracy within the Guild.
If this explanation for my request that your dues money be spent on the
recent corrective mailer you received makes sense to you, I hope you'll consider
or reconsider giving me your support in this election. There is still time
to do so. This is my second chance in this election. Our Guild may
have no such second chance if a clear message is not sent by the membership in
this election, that the current policy direction must be changed, and changed