Ken Howard elected SAG president
Members of the
Howard defeated actress Anne-Marie Johnson, SAG's first vice president who was his leading challenger and backed by the faction that swept outgoing president Alan Rosenberg into office four years ago. Supporters of Howard further consolidated power by winning a majority of the 22 seats on the 69-member national board that were up for grabs.
The result further tilts the balance of power inside the actors union toward a group of moderates endorsed by
The group installed a new negotiating team and appointed former general counsel
Howard, whose credits include the TV series "Crossing Jordan," campaigned on a platform that included merging with the smaller actors union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
AFTRA suspended its longtime bargaining partnership with SAG last year after a dispute over turf, freeing the union to negotiate directly with the studios for the main prime-time TV contract. The smaller actors union, which has long played second fiddle to SAG, has suddenly emerged as the go-to union for new prime-time TV shows, weakening SAG's grip in area it has traditionally dominated.
Howard argued that having two actors' unions allows studios to pit one against the other, severely undercutting SAG's leverage at the bargaining table.
Johnson, star of the TV series "In the Heat of the Night" and "That's So Raven," countered that merging the two unions was a bad idea because their memberships are too dissimilar. Although both unions represent actors and share about 44,000 members in common, AFTRA's members also include broadcast announcers, recording artists and radio show hosts.
Johnson's close association with Rosenberg, however, may have hurt her campaign. Rosenberg waged an unsuccessful campaign to defeat a contract negotiated by AFTRA, fiercely opposed a SAG contract that was approved overwhelmingly by members, and lost a battle to keep Allen in his job.
The result follows a similar outcome in a closely contest election at the Writers Guild of America, West, where members also tapped