Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Somehow I never see it coming.

Every so often, I post something that really pisses people off and it always takes me by surprise.

This Madonna/Forum thing really opened the floodgates and got that peanut gallery typing but good.

Please enjoy some examples of the email I’ve gotten – I have not corrected any spelling or grammar errors:

Ur stoopid 4 thnking U can pikett Madonna shes superstar and I hope u all die

Union members are paid too much!! GREED IS A SIN!!!

What about the innocent people who just want to be intertained? Your saying I should not go when I’ve paid and I’m saying you all should go back to Russia.

Shame on you all for using an innocent person for publicity. Why should she care about you or your silly little problems? If any of you had any brains, you’d go get a real job.

Well, that last one sort of has a point – I think I mentioned that I don’t expect uber-rich celebs to give a shit about the working man, and the fact is that most (with a few exceptions) of them don’t. Those of us who work in the entertainment industry understand this and although we wish things were different, that’s the way it goes.

Once again:

I NEVER EXPECTED MADONNA TO GIVE A RAT’S ASS ABOUT LABOR.

I was, however, hoping that a group of folks who call themselves Christians would care about their employees receiving a fair wage in a city with astronomical housing and general living costs.

It deeply saddens me to think I might be wrong.

As for using Madonna to generate publicity – you bet your ass. She’d do the same thing if our situations were reversed.

And if you think union members are paid too much, please feel free to go work on a non-union low budget movie. Know that you’re showing us greedy union fucks a thing or two while you work 80+ hour weeks for a flat rate that works out to be less than minimum wage and be told by the producer that you should crawl into a building full of toxic waste to place a light because “it’s the right thing to do because we all care soooo much about the project” and then get fired when you refuse because you decide to make your health a priority over a movie that no one’s ever going to see anyway.

If that doesn’t sound good (and why wouldn’t it?), please do work on some non-union music videos that shoot for 25 hours straight, don’t feed you because they blew the catering budget on coke for the artist and his/her friends, and then have armed thugs threaten you when you show up at the office to try to collect another paycheck because the first one (that they issued, under threat of legal action, 6 weeks after the shoot) bounced.

Oh, and have fun not making enough money – no matter how hard you work – to insure your health and your car at the same time.

Go on, do it. I’ll wait.

For the haters out there, it should please you to no end to learn that we’ll probably be getting rained on while we picket.

Filed under: Non-Work, rants

23 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Well, I for one, had no issue with your last post. Maybe, it’s because I grew up in/with Hollywood and some of the goof balls, who left a comment ( I was one, but in support) don’t want to realize that the pay differential is vast and the little guy, gets screwed. It is sad that religious people seem to only care for there group and don’t care about others. It’s a sad look at America. Keep up the good work and would be there with you, but have to work.

  2. jackt says:

    Sounds like a rough business.

  3. Meg says:

    Heh. I can see the e-mails now-
    “C thats what U get for pikiting Madonna!!! God is raining on U!!!”

  4. Anonymous says:

    It’s hard to care about something to the point where you take action. To quote “Repo Man”

    “Ordinary people… I hate ’em. Know why? Because ordinary people spends his entire life getting out of intense situations. Repo men spend there entire lives getting into intense situations!”

    Whenever you care or are passionate about something you’re reminding others who don’t of the apathy of their lives.

    It’s a hard but proud thing to stand up for your rights and the abuse of the nabobs who’s responded is the consequence.

    Good work Peggy.

  5. Gabe says:

    Wow. Go back to Russia? Paid too much? Get a real job? What ridiculous garbage –

    Anyone who knows anything about the film industry, aside from the ritzy byproduct, knows that grip / electric work is some of the toughest work out there. I dare anyone to sit on the set of a show and tell me differently. Also, I strongly desire to be a part of the union just so I can afford to live in the city – Everything in the last paragraph or two of your post is so true.

    I’m currently working on a schlocky “B” horror movie called Snakes on a Train… The train is filled with random chemical smells that give you a headache after ten minutes, the floors give way, etc. Not to mention that while I’m battling the urge to pass out due to heat exhaustion and exposure to God knows what I have the line producer and first-time AD telling me that I’m moving too slow and that they could have someone there to replace me within the hour.

    The crafty is awful and for two or three of the nights we were fed Taco Bell and In-N-Out… Fast food isn’t a SECOND meal, you bad-business-sense having bastards.

    *sigh*

    I’m making $100/day and working, on average, 14 hour days.

    Do the math then tell me I’m a greedy fuck… I could work at McDonald’s and bring home a better check. Why is it wrong to want fair compensation and to be treated humanely in an industry that’s overflowing with money? Without people like Peggy, myself, and the countless numbers of others, you wouldn’t have a single title adorning the marquee at your local multiplex.

    The unions are the only tool we have to fight back against the often unfair treatment dealt out by the above-the-line folks.

    Sorry, I realize that turned into babbling after a while… If today wasn’t my only day off I’d be there with you tonight. I’m sure you can understand my desire to keep the apointment with my couch.

  6. BTL says:

    (Stop it, that is not really what you’re working on. Is that the prequel to “Snakes on a Plane”??)

    Hmm, sounds to me like the people who wrote these comments don’t know much about (in the order in which you presented them):
    1) Work, probably because they’re still in junior high.
    2) The film business. Please. If you think it’s the union crew people who are getting paid too much, you’ve clearly never worked under an HBO contract. You really need to save that “GREED IS A SIN” line for someone a little higher up on the food chain.
    3) Russia. The last time I checked, it hadn’t been Communist for kind of while.
    4) Madonna. ‘Cause no matter what you think of the woman, she sure as hell ain’t innocent.

  7. Larry Weiner says:

    As the son of a teamster (even had his own folding chair) I say take to the streets and get what you can. Sleep during the day, move at night. Learn nobody’s name. Bullhorns.

    That’s it. Now get out there and rack ass!

  8. Justin says:

    I wanna be in the union.

  9. Looks like the Man’s been keeping all of us down.

    Although, I will say I always kinda thought Madonna would turn out to be the Man.

  10. Lost on Location says:

    TRUE STORY
    name changed out of courtsey
    The best example of the non-union days goes like this…

    Hey I dont think that a good idea.

    just do it and be careful.

    You know even if one of us died they would not stop filming.

    yea Hahahaha.

    Cut to nite ext.
    several months later (Good Friday)

    Hey where is john?

    I dont know I havent seen Him since lunch, that was 20 minutes ago. Did you check the G/E 10 ton.

    meanwhile there is a call on the radio for the medic to report to the Honeywagon ASAP.

    Still no John he is not on the 10 ton..

    an ambulance arrives at base camp where the Honeywagon is about 3/4 mile from set where we are setting up for the next Night exterior.
    This is doubbling for the Mexican desert where the bad guys are digging a grave to throw someone in.

    in the meantime we see the ambulance leave without sirens and still nothig has been reported to the crew formaly.
    However there are rumors that someone got sick in the HW and it was possibly John.

    At this point the AD staff are still keeping everyone focused on getting the scene set up until the medic returns and calls a company meeting.

    The Medic explaned how one member of the crew had gone into the restroom and had become ill and that throwing-up possibly drove him into cardiac-arrest but no one heard this person of found him untill it was to late. The crew was informed that John Doe had died.

    Now without missing a beat the Producer and the director said “OK let’s finnish this scene.”

    Thus Proving the point if one of us died on set the producers would not stop filming.

    We the G/E crew refused to continue so we wraped the heads brought down the “Hi-Light” put everything on a steak bed and left the show. The following monday our entire crew was replaced.

  11. Dragoncub says:

    Madonna’s a union actress. Her wages and working conditions are livable because about 60 years ago, actors put their careers, maybe even their lives, in jeopardy, uniting in labor to protect themselves against the lethal “sin of greed” perpetrated by studios who enjoyed near ownership of actors. In short, Madonna, who fought for everything she has, ought to @#$%ing know better.

  12. I am a member of IATSE Local 11 Boston, and I am totally disgusted to hear this….Madonna must know that this is the livelihood of the hard-working people of America:(

  13. Deke says:

    Anyone who thinks union members are paid too much hasn’t seen the new 728 contract. Go get ’em, girl.

  14. Luke says:

    Peggy,

    Good stuff about a bad situation. Who, in your opinion, are the “good” celebs — the ones who DO care about the crew, who don’t throw their weight around, who actually treat you like real people?

  15. genius says:

    I can’t believe that President Bush has enough time on his hands to leave you all these negative comments…

  16. Jean-Paul Cardier says:

    …and then have armed thugs threaten you when you show up at the office to try to collect another paycheck because the first one (that they issued, under threat of legal action, 6 weeks after the shoot) bounced.

    Something I learned from my wife: It’s never worth it to get another check when the first one bounces. Get your bank to cash it 2 times, then take it to the DA. He’ll collect for you. It takes some time, but every time she’s had a problem, she’s always gotten her cash out of a shoot. Because the guy that signed the check doesn’t want to go to jail…. ;)

  17. plantain says:

    Ignoramus’s – OWNED by Peggy!

    Here’s an article that was recently in the NY Times by Tom Hanks.. someone who obviously has respect for the crew!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/27/fashion/thursdaystyles/27skin.html?ex=1303790400&en=57d6ccac690dfd44&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

  18. Andrew says:

    Rock on Peggy. I’ve worked both below and above the line – while both have their plusses and minuses, I certainly think that anyone working below the line has an extraordinarily more difficult job than those above it. You work hard, long hours – often with the only motivation being the paycheck at the end (hey, we all have to pay rent and buy groceries!) – I wish you all the best of luck. Keep fighting the good fight.

  19. Pat says:

    “If any of you had any brains, you’d go get a real job.”

    Hands-down, best pull quote!

    In my alternate-universe life, I test drive sports cars in the wine country and do freelance writing for a magazine that specializes in the field of spas, four-star restaurants and quaint bed-and-breakfast joints.

    And I get to work on a flying pony named Jinx. He runs on sugar cubes.

    That’s a REAL job!

    Well, time to go to the gas station again to fill up my forty-year-old truck…

  20. Dan says:

    I can’t help but be reminded of Bruce Willis on a talk show when he blamed the unions for making movies expensive to make. That fuck was making 20 million a picture at the time! Yeah, it’s the unions that are driving up the cost of production. Asshole. The day after the talk show, he found his Mercedes covered bumper to bumper with spit.

  21. Carly says:

    I drove past the picket lines on Sunday, and now I feel bad for not taking a flyer or beads. I didn’t buy anything at the Forum, but still I wish I’d read this so I’d known more about the issue. Sigh. I’m sorry I was unsupportive.

  22. cinerose says:

    What is the Cost of Profit?

    First off, thank you Ms. Archer for your well-articulated article and for the bloggers’ comments. It is comforting to know that others support our cause.

    I am an IATSE 33 stagehand greatly affected by the wage cuts and lockout of our members at the Forum. I live month-to-month as it is and I would hardly call my yearly stagehand income as exorbitant. The person who made the comment about unions being ‘greedy’ obviously is ignorant of what is involved in working below-the-line in the entertainment industry as many of you have already pointed out.

    The work of a stagehand even in a union is hard, often thankless work that anymore barely commands enough annual income to support a just single person let alone a couple or family. The below-the-line and contract workers’ livelihoods continue to be threatened by large corporations and conglomerates, which, by their greed, continue to grow and gain more and more power. Often the little guys at the bottom starve and slave in order to achieve the company’s primary mission: to bolster the performance of their stock in interest of the company’s shareholders. Isn’t that what our lovely American value system of capitalism all about; making a profit? Yes, of course, but at what costs? It is a shame that this sort of abusive power runs rampant in our country within many corporations where little or no moral responsibility is observed. The rich continue to get richer, the middle class is drying up and the poor only get poorer. Just to get by these days, it is not uncommon for the typical American citizen to enroll him or herself in a modern-day indentured servitude called credit card debt. Again the banks get richer while the common citizen digs a deeper hole in the abyss of growing debt, and must work harder, longer just to keep the wolves away from the door.

    On another note, I don’t understand why people who profess to be Christians are allowing this lockout at the Forum to continue. Bishop Ulmer of Faithful Central Bible Church who owns the Forum, as I understand, still refuses to talk to IATSE. As I last recalled from my childhood Sunday School lessons, arrogance is not a virtue. It also seems hypocritical for the same Church that joined the community’s protest of Wal-Mart building in Inglewood, and the same Church that supported the grocers’ unions when they went on strike, to stand silent as veteran IATSE workers are sent to the sidewalks and replacement workers are bussed in on Faithful Central Bible Church owned and operated busses. By hiring and continuing to allow SMG, the Forum’s management company, to manage this facility irresponsibly, Faithful Bible Church and its leadership causes great economic and moral harm to our community.

    SMG claims IATSE staged a work slowdown. SMG failed to mention in their press releases to the media that they cancelled the collective bargaining agreement (April 10, 2006) also after getting rid of all our department heads but one and on top of that slashing our wages over 35%. After SMG set us up for Madonna’s rehearsals with lack of necessary leadership and a far from happy crew (because of these ridiculous wage cuts), SMG accuses us of a work slowdown that threatened to cause them “great economic harm”? Well, what about the great economic harm to workers and families that SMG is causing by taking away over 120 IATSE jobs despite IATSE historically serving the Forum for 39+ years? What about the possible great economic and physical harm for not allowing IATSE to hire the proper crew necessary to get the job done properly and safely? You’re not just building a sand castle in a sandbox. In any concert, there are TONS of heavy equipment looming above patrons and entertainers heads installed by stagehands with great attention and care. This work needs to be done by experienced personnel who know absolutely what they are doing. You don’t want some wannabe stagehand smuck from off the street telling you later, “Oops, I was supposed to tighten the pin in that shackle? Oh well, maybe no one will notice…” as two motors in concert tentatively raise a metal truss filled with loads of moving lights, rigging and other hardware high above the audience floor.

    At least SMG was smart enough to let experienced IATSE stagehands build Madonna’s set-up for her extensive rehearsals. The work and set-up IATSE 33 stagehands did for Madonna’s rehearsals were was also used for her Confessions World Tour opening performance on May 21, 2006 and the following two performances at the Forum on May 23 and 24. I would think and hope the producers for the upcoming Pearl Jam concert will have an influence in ensuring that the proper personnel will be hired for their upcoming concert scheduled to play also at the Forum this summer.

    Even after agreeing to work Madonna’s rehearsal set up at these reduced wages veteran IATSE 33 workers were still shamelessly tossed aside and locked out for the bulk of her rehearsals, which ran at weeklong intervals for over a month and a half at the Forum. Evidentially to accommodate Madonna’s rehearsal on Mother’s Day Sunday, the Church also moved their congregation and services to an alternate facility. After rehearsals, IATSE stagehands continued to be locked out of working any of Madonna’s concerts at the Forum in May 2006 and were also locked out of the teardown and truck loading of her equipment. All these lockouts add up to a lot of lost work for veteran, union stagehands; stagehands already struggling to make ends meet. Talk about a slap in the face. When SMG no longer saw a need for us, they locked us out and ‘replaced’ us with scab workers to work the show and take out her show. My understanding is that it took these new-hire, mercenary workers 12 LONG HOURS to take out the show probably costing SMG more money in wages than if they would have kept experienced veteran IATSE members working in the first place.

    If it is still costing SMG more in wages to hire non-union then what’s the real agenda? Power…? Money…? On top of lower wages, contract workers that are non-union usually have no guarantee of benefits when they work as mercenaries, a real big cost savings to a corporation. SMG takes pride as being a profit-maximizing (at the workers expense, mind you) and union-busting company. It would seem that corporations like SMG do not want the burden of being accountable for providing for fair wages, healthcare, and retirement plans of their contract employees. Apparently these types of companies pay their contract people the lowest wages they can get away with little or no benefits.

    To work non-union in a historically union facility just gives these irresponsible corporations more power. Let’s not forget the ‘big picture’ here. These mercenary contract workers may make a few extra bucks at other peoples’ and families’ expense, but in the long run they are not only harming others but also shooting themselves in the foot. These replacement workers are taking part in eroding the standard of living for the working class. If we do value a livable standard of living for us, our families and our children, the humane option for decent health care and a livable future for eventual retirement for citizens of our nation, than we must stand together to protect these valuable assets to our nation, our working-class people. As they say, ”No one is an island unto himself.” Every choice of an individual can collectively affect us all.

    On a positive note, there are prominent entertainers who do care for our plight and graciously choose to keep their productions IATSE. A couple of months ago, I got a work call at the Wilshire Theatre. When I arrived there I found out that after a synagogue took over ownership of the Wilshire Theatre, IATSE 33 was not included in the new contract. However, for the theatrical production 700 SUNDAYS, which played in this house after the change in theatre ownership, it is my understanding that Mr. Billy Crystal insisted on playing at this theatre if and only if IASTE 33 personnel were to set up, run and wrap his show. I and many other IATSE workers are appreciative of the support he has shown our union.

    We lose our unions; we lose our voice. This is not an issue about a bunch of stagehands whining about wanting more money. It is about protecting what the working class has worked hard to create and fighting to keep what we have earned for us and our families. As individuals, we can collectively fight and win for fairness for the workers of our country. Unions are a good thing, and I believe in them wholeheartedly. We are supposed to be a democratic nation ironically economically ruled by corporations which by structure are usually hierarchical. The people at the top make the decisions and everyone below them do as instructed. Most people living month-to-month and/or with financial obligations to family often do not question this corporate authority in fear of losing their jobs. It is a corporation’s primary interest to make as much money as possible unfortunately, many times, at the cost to their workers’ standard of living. Unions are there to protect the people when the people’s voices are otherwise overpowered by the greed left unchecked by unethical, irresponsible corporations.

    In closing, many thanks to those patrons of the concert who showed their support by stopping at the picket line, reading our flyers, wearing the beads and boycotting the concessions at the Forum. Please help us in our continued fight by visiting our action page on ia33.org ( http://ia33.org/action/la_forum.htm ) and making your opinions known to the decision makers in this negotiation process.

    Respectfully,

    –Cinerose

  23. Anonymous says:

    I am a Christian, I love to go to concerts and shows and I still cant believe that people are bitching that you guys are on striike for trying to feed your families a fair amount of food in a place that cost a boatload of money to live.

    I lived in SO-Cal for 32 years and moved to Ohio because it was too expencive. I know that I can’t feed my family here on $25 buck an hour and I’m a non-union worker. And yes my wife works too.

    These so-called churchies that own the Furum are just a bunch of Lawyer’d up money bag Christian talking people. Belive me I know the type. I wish them no harm however.

    May the real Jesus Christ bless your cause and help you in your strife.

    Lazlo43

    PS I like the way you type. It’s the way you think and it’s HONEST!
    IATSE FOREVER!!
    (and I’m not a member) hee hee

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