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SAG's Allen on another playing field

While awaiting word from studios on whether they will agree to bring in a federal mediator to resolve a contract dispute, Screen Actors Guild Executive Director Doug Allen has some other business to tend to. Allen is scheduled to testify Wednesday in a trial involving his former employer, the NFL Players Assn.Dougallen

The trial, which began in San Francisco on Monday, stems from a federal class action lawsuit brought by a group of retired players who allege their union deprived them of millions of dollars in royalties from video games, trading cards and other sports products.

Allen, who was the assistant executive director of the NFL Players Assn. before joining SAG nearly two years ago, is not named in the lawsuit. But the case centers on an organization that he was intimately connected with. Allen helped launch a licensing and merchandising corporation called Players Inc., for which his wife, Pat, was formerly chief operating officer.

The venture generated millions of dollars for the union and was widely considered a success -- so much so it became a chief selling point when Allen was in the running for his current job at SAG, which wanted to create a similar licensing division to benefit actors. But the activities of Players Inc. also drew the ire of many retired players, who contended that the licensing arm diverted millions of dollars in revenue to support the perks and salaries of union staff.

The union dismisses the claims as baseless and contends that most companies, including Electronic Arts and trading card outfits such asTopps, had little interest in buying the rights of retired players who weren't very marketable compared with active players.

Allen declined to comment. Not surprisingly, he's working on a game plan to revive contract talks that have gone nowhere since the actors contract expired June 30. At this point, it might take a Hail Mary pass.

-Richard Verrier

Photo: Doug Allen by Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times

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