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SAG gives interim chief the permanent position

A divided board approves a two-year contract for David P. White, who took over as executive director after a group of moderate actors orchestrated the firing of his predecessor, Doug Allen.

October 19, 2009|Richard Verrier

The Screen Actors Guild board of directors has appointed David P. White as the national executive director and chief negotiator for Hollywood's largest union.

The appointment of White, who had been serving as interim executive director, was widely anticipated after a group of moderate actors that orchestrated the firing of his predecessor, Doug Allen, installed White in January.

The moderates recently solidified their position on the national board when their candidate, veteran character actor Ken Howard, soundly defeated Anne-Marie Johnson, who was backed by the faction that had supported Allen and swept outgoing SAG President Alan Rosenberg into office four years ago. Johnson and Rosenberg filed an unsuccessful lawsuit to block the board's firing of Allen, who led the union during a yearlong contract standoff with the studios.

Reflecting divisions in the 125,000-member union, SAG's board approved a two-year contract, at $420,000 a year, for White 71%-to-29% Sunday.

White is a former general counsel for SAG who has pledged to work toward improving relations with other unions, notably the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and to help unify the guild, which has been beset by disputes over negotiating strategy and how to deal with the smaller actors union, which is making rapid inroads into prime-time television.

In a statement, White acknowledged the challenges he faces. "We will continue to get our house in order -- financially and strategically," he said. "I have great confidence in the guild's ability to navigate the dramatic changes taking place in our industry."

Supporters said White has brought stability and renewed effectiveness to the guild, which has ratified six contracts this year and cut costs to deal with a budget shortfall largely caused by the recession and work slowdown for actors.

"David is a highly skilled professional, with a remarkable ability to listen to the concerns of all sides of complex issues," Howard said in a statement. "I am confident that under his leadership, the guild will continue building on the achievements he has overseen in the past nine months."


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