Gregory Hessigner, former national executive director of the Screen Actors Guild and prior executive director of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, has taken a position with global law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP as Of Counsel in its Labor and Employment Law Practice Group.
"I am honored and excited to be teaming with some of the most talented employment lawyers in the country to help our entertainment industry clients confront the difficult challenges ahead," Hessigner said in a statement from Morgan, Lewis. "I believe that my background on both sides of the table will give me unique insight that can help the industry adapt to these changes."
Hessigner became a controversial figure in SAG during the administration of former National President Melissa Gilbert, who had appointed Hessinger to replace beleaguered then-NED Robert Pisano in 2005. The union's national board fired Hessinger seven months ago when current president Alan Rosenberg and his faction Membership First were elected into power. Upon his firing, Hessigner insisted to be compensated $1.6 million he was owed; SAG leaders argued that they were not legally obligated to honor his contract under California law, though they ultimately settled with him for about a third of that amount.
Peter Frank has been serving as interim NED/CEO since Hessigner's firing. Earlier this month the leading candidate to take over the position, Steven Diamond, withdrew his candidacy the day before a national board meeting scheduled to potentially select him. Union sources told The Hollywood Reporter that Diamond informed union leaders of his decision June 1 after the two sides realized they could not come to terms on the issue of salary. SAG spokesperson Seth Oster said the search committee, led by Rosenberg, is pleased with the remaining candidates and their continued interest in the job.