There have been fourteen presidents of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) since I joined the union in 1972, among them John Gavin, Kathleen Nolan, William Schallert, Patty Duke, William Daniels, Melissa Gilbert, Ken Howard, who continued as president following SAG’s merger with the American Federation of Radio & Television Artists (AFTRA), and Gabrielle Carteris. They were all solid, confident leaders, however …
Our current president, Fran Drescher, is—from where I sit—one of the strongest of the lot. When she was running for president in 2021, there were a lot of SAG-AFTRA members who said things along the lines of, “She’s a Nanny, not a leader.” And oh, they were so wrong. So very, very wrong.
Fran Drescher is smart and has an extraordinary level of conviction, giving her a powerful sense of moral authority. To wit:
Fran Drescher leads by example; she takes action and sees it through—even as the going gets rough. Her tenacity is infectious; her “calls to arms” rally our 160,000 members and create grassroots action.
I’d say that’s pretty much the definition of a strong leader. And a strong, feisty, no-holds-barred leader is exactly what’s needed to successfully fight the unparalleled greed of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The producers are crying that they don’t have enough money to meet the actors’ and writers’ “unreasonable” demands. Yet, studios and their CEOs are generating unheard-of levels of income, and it’s all going to their CEOs, other C-level execs, AI testing and perfecting, and their stockholders.
CNBC’s Jennifer Liu reports that while Hollywood TV and film writers are striking for moderate raises, the highest-paid entertainment executive was paid nearly half a billion dollars in the last five years, a report from the Los Angeles Times shows. David Zaslav, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery Inc., was paid $498,915,318 between 2018 and 2022, according to the Times analysis of executive compensation.
As SAG-AFTRA members, we are fortunate to have Fran Drescher as our president. Her leadership and her strength are critical at this pivotal moment in the industry. We should honor her conviction.