Sunday, 9 August 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #341: A Few Quick Thoughts...


Nikki Finke has a list of the things the union AFTRA are not doing for their members. I looked over the list, and wondered what AFTRA is doing, outside of being troublesome to the Screen Actors Guild.

I mean running a union is a fairly straightforward enterprise. At least it should be. You have to try to get a fair deal for your membership, while expanding the ranks of that membership, and maintaining whatever services promised to that membership that induced them to join.

So far AFTRA, who recently re-elected their leadership, is accused of not doing anything to save the Motion Picture Fund's long term and intensive care facilities, of allowing the networks to fiddle soap operas (which employ many AFTRA members) into oblivion, replacing them with cheaper talk shows, and some rather bizarre behaviour when it comes to dealing with SAG.

According to Miss Finke's report, an important AFTRA official started making comparisons between the leadership of SAG and segregationists, and possibly trying to make this into some sort of racial issue. Now I'm no demographics expert, but I seriously doubt there is any real difference in the racial make-up of either union, and you have to remember that these are actors we're talking about, the most touchy feely sensitive hug everyone bunch ever seen in the history of civilization. Hardly a hotbed of racial intolerance.

Which begs the question: What exactly is the AFTRA leadership doing to justify not only the continued employment of their leadership, but the very existence of their union?


The Financial Times is reporting on a federal investigation into allegations of bribery and corruption between some American movie producers and officials in Thailand over control of a Bangkok based film festival.

Now some are crowing that this may mark the beginning of the end of Hollywood's shady accounting practices that have put the industry in the state where it can simultaneously claim billions in profits, and billions in losses.

Well, as the sub-title says, I'll believe it when I see it.

I think this will probably turn into an isolated case with the politics of convenience rather than justice being the guiding light behind it.

However, there is a way it could turn into the beginning of something major.

Right now Hollywood and the ruling Democratic Party, which has the White House and majorities in both houses of congress, are two peas in a pod. There's no way to deny it, they even got an ex-comedian elected to the Senate as a Democrat.

But this could all change in an instant.

Right now the Democrats are facing increasing criticism from media figures, and common citizens over recent policy decisions. Their poll numbers are dropping, and the 2010 mid-term congressional elections are no longer the shoo-in they thought it would be just a few months ago.

If things get too hairy for the Democrats, especially with Republicans pushing the message that they are "Hollywood's Party," they may decide to sacrifice their Hollywood allies on the altar of politics and opportunistic class warfare. There's been a lot of rhetoric about "sticking it to the rich" coming from Washington lately and you don't get much richer than Hollywood, with the added attention getter of decadent overpaid celebrities living lives that both disgust and titillate the voters of flyover country.

Imagine the ratings the congressional hearings would reap. They'd be so big, the major media companies couldn't refuse airing them, even when they're the ones being investigated. It would be Kefauver and HUAC with more sex and bigger money.

But that's only if they get desperate enough to pull the trigger on some of their staunchest backers, so it's a story that has yet to be written.

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