Back Stage welcomes letters on performing arts issues. All letters should include the writer's address and phone number, are subject to editing, and must be limited to 250 words.
I have just picked up a flyer at the Screen Actors Guild regarding "Your 1998 Nominating Committee Candidates." It states there is a small group of pe rformers trying to take over the Guild and turn it into a "Screen Extras Guild." This seems designed more to frighten than enlighten.
There is no question there are more members working as extras than as principals. It is also true these members earn the least of all members save the unemployed. Why shouldn't there be huge concern for this group, who are the majority in number of workers if not in amount of earnings. Keep in mind, extras wages were frozen from 1992-1998. This year the board negotiated a $3.00 a day increase. During the time wages were frozen the Consumer Price Index went up 15% (Bureau of Labor Statistics figures). So, the extras are still 12% behind the "cost of living" index, not to mention not having a raise in all that time.
Other unions, from Teamster UPS drivers to airline pilots to communications workers, used the soaring U.S. economy to get a good deal for all their members. The SAG board did not. I'd say this means the extras were not "adequately represented."
It's true overall jobs went up between 1992 and 1997, but the new contract allows producers to hire non-union people after 85 SAG hires. The old contract required 100 SAG hires before non-union. This is a drop in per film hires of 15%. One could indeed argue, then, that the guild "eliminates jobs."
Long Island City, NY
Actor Was Consummate Pro
I was shocked to read of the death of Stephen Pearlman. I had gotten to know Steve by being his stand-in on several projects. During long arduous shoots, Steve was always good for raising spirits with his anecdotes and humor. He was the consummate professional, always knowing his lines and hitting his mark.
At our last meeting ("Commandments"), he kept Lou Zorich and I entertained for what turned out to be a very long day. He was a fine role model for young people just coming into the business. No matter how difficult the scene, he made it look easy.
We will miss you, Steve. Thanks for all you gave us to aim toward.