Oscar Winner Tim Robbins and Rebecca Metz win the debate with Actors’ Equity on KCRW radio

McColl, Woodard, Robbins, Metz

The Actors’ Gang founder Tim Robbins and AEA member Rebecca Metz square off against Charlayne Woodard and AEA Executive Director Mary McColl over what Equity’s proposal means for LA. 

Six thousand local AEA members will start voting in two weeks on whether they should be paid California’s minimum wage of $9 an hour.

Moderated by Warren Olney, Tim Robbins and Rebecca Metz hold Equity’s feet to the fire and tell the truth about Equity’s disastrous proposal for intimate LA theater…

Click to Listen:

KCRW_Warren_Olney_on_the_99_seat_theatre_debate

And the winner is …

“If you’re Equity in L.A., again, listen to this before the upcoming vote. It’s as clear a picture as you’re going to get.
This is what they brought. This is all they had.
In a half hour, Equity Executive Director Mary McColl is extremely unguarded and transparent in the absolute lack of substance in her words, except once, when the host catches her in a lie. Charlayne Woodard repeats talking points and wanders off script and gets stuck in her own self-righteous ignorance. It’s humiliating to share humanity with such people.”

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7 comments on “Oscar Winner Tim Robbins and Rebecca Metz win the debate with Actors’ Equity on KCRW radio

  1. I have held my tongue on this, but Ms. Woodard’s comments after the radio program made me post this: “Charlayne, you absolutely have the right to your opinion. And I love that you have passion. But I must say I find your argument to be disingenuous at best as you yourself benefited greatly from the 99 Seat plan. You know very well that your show Pretty Fire, which began your solo writing/acting career, was developed and produced under the 99 Seat Plan. From there, the show went to major regional theaters across the country and New York City. The success of Pretty Fire got you commissions for three more solo plays at major theaters across the country. You probably ended up getting something like two years worth of the AEA contract work from your opportunity to develop Pretty Fire in the 99 Seat plan. Why would you want to remove that same opportunity for other AEA members to develop their work in a safe and noncommercial environment? Especially when you are the poster child for the success of the 99 Seat plan and the future work it can bring to AEA members?”

  2. Dear Charlayne I haven’t been an actor all my life. I started thinking about being a professional actor after I graduated from college. My story is unique as is the story of every actor I have met or worked with. That is one of the appealing aspects of a career in acting we each carve our own path, choose our own road less traveled. I am a big fan of the path you have traveled and the work you have done from the time I saw you decades ago in a 99 seat venue doing an early version of PRETTY FIRE before it caught fire. I know you mean well when you speak about dignity for actors and the desire for actors to be paid and paid well. That is something we have in common with each other and with every member of “the fiercest club on the planet.” Those that don’t belong to the club have no idea of the blood, sweat and tears we spend to stay in the club and do our best to make our living as members of the club. The club is huge when you account for EQUITY, SAG/AFTRA and all of the other professional unions and guilds. Residing within the club as well are all of those actors in school or training on their own hoping someday to be recognized as a professional by their peers, gaining union affiliation, receiving income or a combination of the above. Everyone has their own definition of “success”. I have never had an Equity contract but I have made a comfortable living working SAG/AFTRA contracts enough to buy a house, raise two kids and qualify for a healthy retirement. My students at USC where I teach a class in The School of Dramatic Arts ask me if I am happy with my career. My response is “Happy but not satisfied, I’ll never be satisfied.” I think that is another trait all actors posses that idea that Martha Graham coined “divine dissatisfaction”. The club has so many layers and levels today’s receptionist is the star of the next network series, that extra in the film you watch today is the star of the Academy Award winning film 6 years from now. That young actress working on a one woman show in a 99 seat theatre two decades ago is an accomplished Broadway star and renowned playwright. Actors make art and money in many, many different ways. Art and money don’t always intersect. Friends of mine have made hundreds of thousands of dollars doing voiceovers but their dream is to produce a film. Tim Robbins has gained huge success as a film actor yet chooses to produce innovative and exciting intimate theatre. There are actors out there who choose one form one specialty for their career and others that have a desire and a proclivity for many of the forms of performing that fall under the umbrella of actor. The 99seat plan allows actors of all stripes to choose projects, roles and companies they want to work with to create the art they desire. Much like the deferred film and web series contracts that SAG/AFTRA offer 99seat theatre is a way for actors to develop their own skills or develop a project they are passionate about. There is an abundance of respect in the 99seat community, most of the producers are also actors themselves. What there is not an abundance of in the 99seat world is money. The lack of money however is not actor-centric there is not a copious supply of cash for anyone ……..the drastic and immediate changes in the plan that you and Equity advocate for will not work and theatres will close. If members vote no on the present proposal then hopefully Equity will come back to the table and work for change that will work. The present plan is a theatre killer.

  3. Charlayne, I’m a big fan of your work, and I so agree that we are professionals who deserve to be paid. You’re trying to fight for something that I want, too–and I can tell you, every actor I know wants it. But I hope you’ll hear me as I try to describe why so many of us are fighting so hard for something as counter-intuitive as the right not to be paid.

    You had a very bad experience in 99-seat theater with a shockingly amateurish director; but I ask you sincerely, is it possible you’re over-generalizing from that experience? For what it’s worth, I have worked at top LORT theaters all over this country repeatedly–South Coast Rep, the Old Globe, Berkeley Rep, Seattle Rep, Actors Theater of Louisville, the Intiman (when you were doing The Nightwatcher across the street, in fact), the Shakespeare in D.C., the Ahmanson, Pasadena Playhouse, Kirk Douglas, etc etc.–and most of my best artistic experiences have been in 99-seat theater. I’ve given my best performances there; I’ve found my closest collaborators there; it is my soul’s home.

    So for me, and for so many of us, this is an effort to create greater fairness for actors while protecting what we’ve built and love. If you don’t love the small theater scene here, I can see how it might not seem worth protecting; but having seen your work, I think I know something about your unusually well-developed powers of empathy. I know you wouldn’t dismiss an entire community, one that sustains the artistic souls of so many, just because it hasn’t fed you in the way it feeds them. If it were either/or, maybe in good conscience one could choose higher compensation even if it meant closing a lot of theaters. But it’s not either/or. We can do both. There are very specific ideas for how—see Jeff Marlowe above, and there are others, too. I suspect that the “Change but not this change” mantra strikes you as empty or disingenuous. If you’re listening, I can tell you it’s neither. We mean it, quite passionately and rigorously. If we can move past this particular proposal, this community is extremely committed to finding a better way forward—NOT sticking to the status quo.

    If you look soberly at the numbers, it’s clear that the current proposal will prevent most small theaters in LA from doing the work they set out to do. They’ll either close or have to severely constrain their artistic choices. It doesn’t seem fair to say that because they’re creative and motivated, they’ll just find a way to double or triple their budgets overnight (which is very much what this proposal will require them to do). I don’t know of any organization, of any size, that could manage that feat, no matter how creative or motivated. Do you?

    What I’m asking you to do, Charlayne, as the artist, visionary and humanitarian you are, is what you do as a matter of course in your work: step outside the confines of your own experience and take seriously the subjective experience of others—fellow artists, in this case, who are telling you that there IS something worth saving here, something on the verge of being lost. I don’t think your deepest concern is really about the minimum wage per se; I think it’s about dignity for professionals who are so often denied it. We can have that dignity and preserve what we’ve created. We just have to be more imaginative than our Equity leadership has thus far challenged itself to be. If they’re listening, we can help them get there. If you’re listening, I hope you understand what I’m saying. Thanks, Charlayne.

  4. This is eloquently stated and I couldn’t agree more. Isn’t there some way to draw together intelligent, thoughtful people from all sides of this issue and explore problems and solutions together?

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