SAG Board taps David White as new executive director and chief negotiator
The appointment of White, who had been serving as interim executive director, was widely anticipated after a group of moderate actors who 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 Membership First 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 ongoing divisions in the 125,000 member union, SAG's board approved a two-year contract for White by a 71%-to-29% margin at a meeting Sunday in Los Angeles.
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 with disputes over negotiating strategy and how to deal with the smaller actors union that 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. 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 taken cost-cutting steps to deal with a budget shortfall 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. "He is respected by members of staff and I am confident that under his leadership, the guild will continue building on the achievements he has overseen in the past nine months."
-- Richard Verrier
Photo Credit: Screen Actors Guild