News for 10/8/2006

Sudden ouster of actors union veep

The union representing film and TV actors narrowly ousted a prominent leader, signaling discontent within the ranks just a year after the organization elected new, more radical leadership.

Screen Actors Guild First Vice President Anne-Marie Johnson was replaced Tuesday night by a vote of 17-16 and replaced by actor and longtime SAG activist Kent McCord.

The move came just hours after Johnson testified on behalf of the union at a Federal Communications Commission hearing on media consolidation.

The election of McCord was a rebuke to SAG President Alan Rosenberg, a close ally of Johnson, a black actress who has appeared in such TV shows as "JAG," "Melrose Place" and "In the Heat of the Night."

"I'm devastated by it," Rosenberg said. "When a black woman is doing an incredible job, you don't replace her with a white man."

Rosenberg was elected in part because he promised to squeeze more money from the studios from new technologies and the sale of DVDs. He also pledged to unite SAG's feuding factions.

Since his election, Rosenberg has followed a more moderate path, reaching out to angry SAG members in the influential New York division and other parts of the country.

McCord ran unsuccessfully for SAG president in 2003 and was a member of the faction that helped elect Rosenberg last fall. His election is seen as a return to a more aggressive and potentially divisive style.

Rosenberg recently helped structure a two-year extension of a contract with national advertisers that, among other provisions, allowed for a study that could help change the way people are paid for work in commercials.

The union's major pact with studios expires in 2008.