Hollywood actors took a huge step back away from a strike Monday, firing the hard-line team of union negotiators who seemed intent on leading the Screen Actors Guild into a strike. The SAG moderates who've been increasingly uneasy about the possibility of a strike were so intent on getting rid of chief negotiator Doug Allen that they agreed to eat the final 12 months of his $500,000-a-year contract.
Allen was closely allied with SAG President Alan Rosenberg and other militants who've been spoiling for a strike since SAG's contract with the studios expired seven months ago. They've insisted SAG could get a better deal than writers and directors, who signed contracts last year, and demanded a strike authorization vote from the union membership. But as the American economy has gone south, more and more SAG members have backed away from the shrill rhetoric of the militants, and Monday they decisively broke with the union's hawkish leaders. Rosenberg certainly understood the significance of Monday's actions. "This is the darkest day within my memory," he told the trade journal Variety. Yeah, that 9/11 business was pretty trifling compared to not getting your way at a SAG board meeting.