• Robert DuSold

    I’ve been an Equity member for 33 years, and have made my living primarily as a stage actor that entire time. I do live in the New York area, and I have heard from fellow actors all across the country and many in LA who are quite happy with Equity’s decision. From following this very closely, and participating in the discussion, I’ve come to the conclusion this is much more about ideology than living in LA or New York or Chicago or DC.
    The overwhelming majority of actors who live in New York don’t make their livings in New York, much like stage actors in LA or anywhere else. We ALL have to travel to make money. The majority of my income has been from doing national tours. The fact is salaries have eroded over the last ten years…tiers, concessions, etc. I find it interesting that Mr. Mathews found it was “bullshit” that 99 seat waiver and LORT and Broadway have nothing to with each other. I completely disagree.
    First of all, 99 seat theater isn’t a contract.. a contract would imply actors were making money. There are several LORT theaters on Broadway right now, and I bet there would be more if the union allowed producers to allocate them. So, at this moment many actors on “Broadway” ARE working for LORT scale.
    Perception= Reality in terms of how this whole 99 seat has played out in the press. The more articles with headlines …from LA Weekly.. like “Actors say Fuck You to Their Union” the more I think producers on every level are salivating and the general public views us all as idiots. Many LA members of Equity not only trust the leadership, they are thrilled the union took a stand, came up with solutions and advocated for wages.
    The 99 seat waiver was never meant to be anything but a showcase for members. Not a business model. Not new play development. A showcase. I’ve done hundreds of showcases and 29 hour readings. Showcases here run a maximum of 16 performances, not 80 performance commercial runs in LA 99 seat.
    In my estimation, 99 seat theater in LA is now a third world market. It has to be geared toward creating a foundation to pay actors. How is the union supposed to oversee and manage hundreds of theaters that don’t contribute a dime? That’s not the job of any union. I have a pension. The only way I will collect it and every other member will is if money is put into the Fund.
    The reality of the Pension and Health Fund is over 300 members were dropped from the insurance rolls this year, most of whom have been in the union as long as I have. I want my working dues and yearly dues to go towards growing opportunities for actors to make money, so we can all have the benefits of health insurance and a pension.
    The idea that making minimum wage and doing “art” or the advancement of a show to a contract as mutually exclusive is what I find puzzling I guess. Why can’t it be both?
    I also never hear in any discussion of “pro99” the folk the thought for a fleeting moment to fundraise to pay actors minimum wage. I also don’t understand that. I’m sure the cost of the ad in the LA Times and the lawyer fees for the looming lawsuit could contribute nicely to a fund to pay actors minimum wage.
    What I have seen sorely lacking from this discussion are the voices of people like me… who aren’t “stars”, who have made their living as stage actors. So, in addition to the Executive Director of AEA, how about interviewing me? Or how about the many people like me who live in LA who aren’t on the Council?

    • elanda2000

      There has been MUCH discussion about fundraising and the fact that all of us running our actor-driven theatre companies do, in fact, spend countless hours figuring out how to squeeze more dollars from the meager grant resources available to us (which, by the way, RARELY allow for those grant monies to be used for actor salaries), how to get more donors to give to our companies when we are often doing non-commercial fare (i.e. musicals, classics and worn chestnuts) and how to create a more substantive theatre audience in a town dominated by film and television. There are not whiny complaints but the reality of the environment we are working in. Do we want to get paid. YES! Are there SOME companies that can move to contract? YES. In fact, some have lobbied AEA for years to work toward a contract status only to be rebuffed by AEA. However, it is ludicrous to assume that the vast majority of actor-driven companies in LA would be able to pay minimum wage to all its actors. I respectfully ask you to do more reading into this subject before coming to a conclusion based on this one interview.

  • Douglas Clayton

    ‘The settlement agreement says that it cannot be voided or thrown out without written agreement of both sides.’ It does? Where?

    • Paul Tigue

      Paragraph 13, page 8 of the Settlement Agreement.

      • Douglas Clayton

        Thanks. That refers to changes to the Settlement itself, not changes to the 99 Seat Plan, doesn’t it?

        • Paul Tigue

          Good question, not sure. I’m guessing the language will be parsed by lawyers, AEA and the Review Committee if it comes to it.

          • Yes, it refers to the settlement agreement, which is clearly what Mr. Matthews is talking about.

  • Corey Klemow

    “Matthews even got his show’s star, Helen Mirren, to offer her support to the Pro-99 movement.”

    Actually, Vanessa Stewart did that (which is why Mirren says “Hi Vanessa” at the start of the quote you link to). She’s currently working with Mirren’s husband Taylor Hackford on “Louis & Keely: Live at the Sahara,” which started at the 99-seat Sacred Fools in L.A., moved to the 99-seat Matrix (paying over the 99-seat minimum for that run, if I recall correctly), went to contract at the Geffen, and is now playing on contract at the Royal George in Chicago and next spring will be on contract at the Laguna Playhouse back here in California.

    • Aha, we guessed there might be a ‘Louis & Keely’ connection there–didn’t know for sure. Now we do. Thanks!