Have I Got a Deal For You!
UPDATE #3: Over $15,000 IN 6 DAYS! WAY TO GO, LA THEATER LOVERS! CAN WE HEAR $20,000? https://www.gofundme.com/ilove99
UPDATE #2: THANKS TO LA INTIMATE THEATERS’ FRIENDS, FANS AND PATRONS, WE’VE RAISED $10,000 IN JUST 2 DAYS! LET’S KEEP IT COMING!
UPDATE #1: DONATIONS MAY NOW BE MADE ONLINE THROUGH GOFUNDME! GO TO https://www.gofundme.com/ilove99 AND HELP SAVE LA’S INTIMATE THEATERS!
I just made an investment. I attended a meeting last night where some very sharp people, including a couple of lawyers, made an informal presentation to convince me to part with my cold, hard cash. It worked. I’m ponying up a thousand dollars.
What am I sinking my money into, you ask? A vacation time-share? Gold? Securities to hedge a lowly actor’s retirement fund? Nope. I’m buying into the future of intimate theater in Los Angeles. It’s a very safe investment, for two reasons: (1) there is zero chance that I will get my money back, and (2) the entire amount will go towards preserving something that is very, very important to me.
Even a casual reader of Bitter Lemons will know that there has been a monumental struggle between Actors Equity and its Los Angeles members for quite some time. It began with some pretty ugly behavior on both sides (well, certainly from this corespondent, on this side).
AEA made specious claims that a “silent majority” of its LA members were profoundly unhappy with their treatment at the hands of our small theaters. They followed that up with a laughable push-poll survey that would have done Karl Rove proud, then presented a top-down, “promulgated plan” that had something in it to disappoint everyone. In the lead-up to the non-binding referendum, the union used its official email to send members celebrity endorsements of the plan. They also set up phone banks, ostensibly to make “informational calls,” but, in reality, lobbying for their preferred outcome. When the vote still didn’t go their way, they simply ignored it.
For my part, I sent ever more-strident messages to staff and council, adopting a tone of being slightly unhinged when reason failed to sway. I still can’t imagine why that didn’t do the trick.
Then, some hardy folks, several of them the same people who brought Equity to its senses in the 1980’s, when the 99 seat plan was created, filed a legal complaint. The suit was administered by some pretty spiffy attorneys, the kind actors can’t usually afford (among them were Steven Kaplan and Rick Kopenhefer, who were in attendance at last night’s meeting). In conjunction with the lawsuit, a complaint was also filed with the National Labor Relations Board.
That brings us to today (well, last night, really). The suit against Equity was filed, but not served. AEA was given a chance to consider the merits of the complaint before being required to actually defend against it. After a bit of initial bluster, the union wisely elected to talk to its Los Angeles stakeholders – all of them, by representation – and come up with a plan that all sides can live with. It appears we’ll get the chance to see what “Change, but not this change,” really looks like.
And now, like a born-again, multilevel marketer, I’m going to explain why I’m giving the plaintiffs money, and why you should, too. The attorneys fighting for our rights are working either pro-Bono, or at reduced rates for deferred pay. After hearing them speak last night, and answer my questions, I can tell you that they are good. I haven’t been that impressed with lawyers since I binge-watched “Making a Murderer.” The facilitator, however – the person responsible for conducting the talks between the two sides – isn’t working for free. In other words, now that Equity has come to the table, we need to bankroll these peace accords, and if – heaven forfend – they fall through, we’ll need to bankroll a potentially lengthy lawsuit.
I love our intimate theaters, and if you’ve read this far, I have to assume you do, too. Funding these negotiations is, in essence, buying the balm that will heal this too-long rift between our community and our union. Please join me in doing that.
Contributions can be made in person at the Law Offices of Steven J. Kaplan, 11377 W. Olympic Blvd., Ste. 500, Los Angeles, CA 90064-1683. Checks should be made out to “Law Offices of Steven Kaplan Trust Account.” There will soon be other avenues available to make donations, and I will update this post with that info, at that time. Thanks for reading.