NEWS WIRE : SAG, Saban Make Up

Saban Entertainment and the Screen Actors Guild have reached an agreement on a new contract covering live action children's shows. The deal, which will take effect July 1, will provide higher pay, full pension and health benefits, and residuals to performers who work on Saban's shows.

Saban, which produces Power Rangers in Space and many other TV programs, was the only major TV production company that had not signed a SAG contract. SAG tailored its contract to fit Saban's unusual production patterns, said Guild president Richard Masur.

"They simultaneously shoot three shows over a 12-day period," said Masur. "Because of that unusual pattern of production, we agreed to adapt a long-existing concept that has been in the SAG agreement for a long time, which is a 'term-contract player.' It's only applicable to series regulars. They engage people for six months or a year, guaranteeing them a weekly salary. Then, depending on how many episodes they work in, they get a bonus for each episode. It's like the old studio system."

Masur said SAG also "created a new residuals structure to deal with this kind of production and distribution pattern. Basically, it's a structure based on groups of runs, not on revenue or any other kind of formula that exists."

--David Robb (BPI)

Next Stop for Theatre/Theater

The bad news, as reported earlier, is that a new bus station in transportation-consumed Los Angeles will subsume well-known landmark Theatre/Theater. The great news is that dedicated producers Jeff Murray and Nicolette Chaffey have already found a new home for their theatre, and it's just around the corner from the old spot on Cahuenga Boulevard.

The new space, to be called "Theatre/Theater On the Boulevard," has room for two theatres and several classroom/rehearsal areas. It's at 6425 Hollywood Blvd., on the fourth floor of the Pacific Theatre building. "With a great view," Murray added.

Murray and Chaffey have been making theatre for 17 years in L.A., and their mission will continue, according to Murray.

"It's a matter of getting back into the trenches," said Murray, who is steeling himself for this new career transition. "I'm really happy to put in one more year to see if it's over or will grow to the next level--and I hope it does grow."

The Cahuenga locale had been home for a good many years, host to such hits as Daddy's Dying, Who's Got the Will, and the currently running Melody Jones, which will close in June.

Murray and Chaffey have faced this sort of setback before. Three other theatre spaces they ran, all on Melrose, have metamorphosed into retail shops and boutiques.

No inaugural show has been tapped for the new space, which will open in July for workshops and classes. Murray plans to teach an acting class, and he's looking for others who may want to work at the space. Details: (213) 871-0210.

--Mike Farkash

Off the Wire

PACIFIC NORTHWEST--A Contemporary Theatre in Seattle began its 33rd season, its first under artistic director Gordon Edelstein, on May 14 with the new musical Thunder Knocking on the Door (see review on page 13). Next up is Edelstein's directorial debut for the company, a production of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman starring John Aylward, D.B. Sweeney, Steve Cell, Marianne Owen, and Laurence Ballard, May 27-June 21. (206) 292-ARTS.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA--The Eureka Theatre Company in San Francisco last week began renovation of its new home, 215 Jackson St., in the former Gateway Cinema. The redesigned space will be a 200- to 300-seat theatre. The theatre plans to open its season this fall with Joshua Reynolds' Stonewall Jackson's House. (415) 386-5061

The B Street Theatre in Sacramento has added an additional Wednesday matinee to its weekly performance schedule along with 30 additional seats to the theatre. The first production to feature this expansion will be Richard Greenberg's Three Days of Rain, May 24-June 5. (916) 443-5300.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA--Venture West Theatre Company will present A Piece of My Heart, a tribute to our veterans by Shirley Lauro, May 22-24, on the grounds of the National Cemetery at Wilshire and Sepulveda in West Los Angeles. Performances are free and reservations are not required. (310) 364-1654

Cal State Northridge will bestow honorary doctorates in humane letters to blacklisted movie director Abraham Polonsky and arts magnet Harold M. Williams during commencement ceremonies on May 27-28. (818) 677-2130

Peter Peter Pumpkin Theater (or P3T), named the best new theatre of the Twin Cities in 1996, makes its Los Angeles debut with a production of Robert Shearman's Easy Laughter, May 22-June 27 at the New One-Act Theatre Ensemble in Hollywood. (213) 666-0857

Maureen McGovern will join the national tour of The King and I for the final three performances at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles, succeeding Marie Osmond in the role of Mrs. Anna Leonowens. McGovern's career began as the "disaster movie chanteuse," recording the Academy Award-winning songs "The Morning After" for The Poseidon Adventure and "We May Never Love Like This Again" for The Towering Inferno. (213) 365-3500

Screen Actors Guild president Richard Masur released a statement in opposition to California's Prop. 226, which would prevent unions from putting money towards political causes without a referendum of their members. In the statement, Masur wrote, "SAG members choose their leadership through direct referenda, empowering those they elect to act on their behalf. If the guild were required to consult the full membership every time policy decisions were to be made, and, additionally, were subjected to additional costly bureaucratic procedures, this organization would be paralyzed"

Learning for Life is looking for volunteers for its Entertainment Professions Speakers' Day at John Muir Middle School in Burbank. The goal of the day is to expose these youth to the different possibilities within the entertainment industry. A diverse range of professionals are being sought, from producers to makeup artists to script supervisors. Interested parties should contact Carol Eckert at (818) 893-4779

L.A. TheatreWorks' The Play's the Thing live radio theatre series will present Hector Elizondo and Paul Winfield in Additional Dialogue: An Evening With Dalton Trumbo, directed by Gordon Hunt, May 27-30 at the Doubletree Guest Suites in Santa Monica. All performances are recorded for future broadcast on KCRW 89.9FM. In 1947, Trumbo became one of the blacklisted Hollywood Ten, later going to prison for 11 months for his refusal to cooperate with the House Committee on Un-American Activities. (310) 827-0889

In addition, L.A. TheatreWorks has launched a national education outreach program titled Alive & Aloud, offering its collection of classic and contemporary plays (originally recorded for radio broadcast) free of charge to public secondary schools. In 1998, 1,250 schools will participate in the program's pilot year through start-up grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and Sony Pictures Entertainment. Schools interested in participating in the program should contact L.A. TheatreWorks. (800) 708-8863

South Coast Repertory has announced its 1998-'99 season, its 35th. The mainstage season will open with Eugene O'Neill's Ah, Wilderness!, Sept. 11-Oct. 11, and will continue with the West Coast premiere of Donald Margulies' Dinner With Friends, Oct. 23-Nov. 22; Molire's Tartuffe, Jan. 15-Feb. 14; John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, Feb. 26-Apr. 4; John Glore's On the Jump, and one more play to be announced, May 28-June 27. The second stage season opens with the West Coast premiere of Jon Klein's Dimly Perceived Threats to the System, Sept. 25-Oct. 25. The remaining four production slots have not yet been assigned, but two of the plays that will fill those slots have been announced: David Hare's Skylight and the West Coast premiere of Nilo Cruz's Two Sisters and a Piano. Also, SCR will bring back its holiday productions of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol on the mainstage, Nov. 28-Dec. 27, and La Posada M‡gica, the Octavio Solis/Marcos Loya play with music, on the second stage, Dec. 11-27. (714) 708-5555

Susan Egan and Bronson Pinchot will join Carol Burnett in a new version of Stephen Sondheim's Putting It Together, which opens the Mark Taper Forum's 32nd season on Oct. 22. Also, on-line ticketing is available for the remaining productions of Dealer's Choice at the Taper through May 31. The website address is www.taper-ahmanson .com/ctg. (213) 628-2772

In an effort to bring live professional theatre to Southeastern Los Angeles County, the Lost World, award-winning producers of Lily Dale, The Habitation of Dragons, and One Shoe Off, have taken up residence at the Ruth B. Shannon Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Whittier College. Initial efforts will be produced under a "special appearances" agreement with Actors' Equity. In addition to producing theatre, the company is planning a new play development program, with readings and workshops scheduled to begin in the fall. As part of its upcoming 1998 season, the Lost World will present the West Coast premiere Naomi Wallace's Obie award-winning One Flea Spare. (562) 907-4207

Michael Grillo, executive producer and head of feature film production at DreamWorks, SKG will be the guest speaker at the Hollywood Networking Breakfast at Paramount Studios on May 28. The monthly event is produced by Change Images in America and the Producers Writers Directors Alliance. (213) 951-0355

The American Cinematheque presents the first major U.S. retrospective of the films by Japanese "yakuza" master, Tai Kato, May 22-June 6, at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood. Kato was renowned for his action-packed samurai and gangster "yakuza" films. The event includes screenings of Kato's Blood of Revenge, Tokijiro of Kutsukake, History of a Man's Face, and Long Sought Mother. The Cinematheque will also present, as part of its "Alternative Screen" series, Craig Richardson's Anima, the latest film from the producers of Welcome to the Dollhouse, May 28. (213) 466-3456

San Diego Repertory Theatre's fifth annual Party With a Point of View will be held on June 7 at Vita Eterna, a 21,000-square-foot villa located in Rancho Santa Fe. The company's annual fund-raiser, the event will feature both a live and silent auction with such items as trips to Las Vegas, weekend getaways, golf packages, tennis lessons, jewelry, art, and theatre tickets. (619) 231-3586, ext. 630.

--Scott Proudfit/Jamie Painte