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Winter 2012—2013

The Official Publication of the SAG-AFTRA Philadelphia Local


Photos by Chuck Varesko

Photo courtesy of Helen Chong


n Dec. 4, SAG-AFTRA Philadelphia decked the halls of Chili’s restaurant on City Avenue in Bala Cynwyd with holiday cheer, animated conversation and laughter. It was the first merged holiday bash and members from the broadcast side, like Tim Lake and Michael Tearson, mixed with actors, like Tom McCarthy, John Wooten and Helen Chong. Party planner Helen McNutt showed good judgment in booking Chili’s to host the party. The eatery provided half of the restaurant, and that space was needed to accommodate the crowd. There was a cash bar and munchies in the form of tortilla wraps, fajitas, and plenty of salsa and chips. A good time was had by all, as evidenced by the smiles in the photos above. To see all of the photos from the party, click here and view them online.

Co-President’s Messages


s we look back at 2012, many are reflecting on wins, losses, milestones, even missteps. Together, we’ve come a long way, for sure. A year ago, the elected leaders and staff of our legacy organizations were hard at work, focused on the new union we’d long envisioned. Now SAG-AFTRA is a reality and we must be committed to ensuring it’s responsive and relevant to every member we represent. In Catherine Brown 2013, we’ll have opportunities to move forward on a new commercials contract, local and national elections and our history-making, first SAG-AFTRA national convention. For those inclined to make New Year’s resolutions, we can add being involved and staying connected with these important tasks. It works the same way as the gym membership we’ve had (or contemplated). Our results depend on our commitment to the outcome. YOU are the union! Catherine


roductions are shooting in Philadelphia and more are on the way. Stay on the top of your game by fine-tuning your skills through studying, class training, supporting SAG-AFTRA student film agreements and taking advantage of your local’s conservatory events. This year we John Wooten were very fortunate to have National Executive Director David White in town. I am pleased to know that Philadelphia’s efforts, concerns, thoughts and initiatives have a national interest. Though rainy, our Labor Day parade was a success, and the showing of your leadership was well in order as we stood together with other unions for labor across the country. SAG-AFTRA was there marching through the downpour in unity.  In solidarity, John Wooten


Members Inducted into Broadcast Hall of Fame

Jerry Klein, SAG-AFTRA member Sylvia Kauders and Gerry Wilkinson.


he SAG-AFTRA Philadelphia Local congratulates the following member s who were inducted into the 2012 Broadcast Pioneer s Hall of Fame on Nov. 16: Lu Ann Cahn; Angelo Cataldi; Stan Hochman; Sylvia Kauder s (SAG-AFTRA Philadelphia Local Board member); Jay Lloyd; Robin Mackintosh; Liz Matt; Beasley Reece; Frank Beazley (posthumously); and Al Mar tino (posthumously). The Broadcast Pioneer s is a 60-year-old nonprofit organization that grants scholar ships and hosts luncheons recognizing the achievement of broadcaster s and aspiring broadcaster s. SAG-AFTRA is a member of Broadcast Pioneer s and is proud of our member s for receiving this terrific honor.



Executive Director:

Co-President — Catherine Brown

Harvey Jaffe


Co-President — John Wooten

Sylvia Kauders

Editor: Shelley Figures

Associate Executive Director:

1st Vice President — Chuck Varesko

Mark Kochanowicz

2nd Vice President – Dick Sheeran

Michael Kraycik

Secretary — Cyndy Drue

Paul Kurtz

Treasurer — Ed Fischer

Gail Lewis

National Board Member — Helen McNutt

Christopher Mann

National Board Member — Bill Shusta

J. Emerson McGowen

Sara Jane Blazo

Christopher M. McMullin

Rob Charry

Susan Moses

Sam Clover

MJ Myers

Donna Dundon

Christy Springfield

Lisa Ann Goldsmith

Volieda Webb

Meagan Hill

Brian Anthony Wilson

Official publication of SAG-AFTRA Philadelphia

Contributing Editors:

Stephen Leshinski

Frank Traynor

Chuck Varesko

Stephen Leshinski

Shelley Figures

Assistant Director Broadcast & Production:

Frank Traynor

Local Organizer:

Al Stewart

Contracts/Signatory Administrator:

SAG-AFTRA Philadelphia 230 South Broad St., Suite 500 Philadelphia, PA 19102 215.732.0507 Sessions Archive

Lynn Koenigsberg

Benefits & Membership Administrator:

Michele Dooley

Executive Director’s Report By Stephen Leshinski, SAG-AFTRA Philadelphia Executive Director


rom Political Animals to Do No Harm to North Start to the Mechanic to Paranoia to Radio Shack to ... whew! It’s been a busy few months for our new union, at least as far as acting work goes. This has been great for our local, but to make it something bigger than just a busy few months, we have to focus on what it takes to “take the next step” and keep ourselves on the map for commercial, corporate/educational and theatrical work. It goes without saying that all of these productions had a choice of where they would film and, lucky for us, they chose Philly. Would they choose to come back? Do our members show up on time, act professionally, and deliver a great performance? Our new Mentorship Program will ensure that all new members, as well as existing members, get the professional support they need from the bounty of longtime members who have had so much success in their own careers and are willing and able to pass that information along. Also coming soon: our Rights and Responsibilities brochure, so every member can be made completely aware of the rights they have as a union member, as well as the responsibility that the SAGAFTRA card bestows. This information will be made available on our website, as well as in paper form to be circulated on set so that everyone from actors to producers to casting have the same expectations when it comes to working a Philadelphia union production. But there is a flip side to all this work: Are we making the most of these opportunities? Do our members who struggle to find work get

a chance at a regular paycheck? Does local talent get a chance to audition for principal roles? Do our members who have worked principal roles get a shot at the bigger stage? No matter where you are in your career, the union should help you take that next step so that you can achieve the goals that you have set for yourself. For members who are working but would like to work more, the SAG-AFTRA Conservatory Committee is the professional development committee to make sure members are comfortable, for example, working with a teleprompter or auditioning for audiobooks or being prepared for an audition or even doing their taxes! These are just some of the topics covered in the past two years, with a new slate of events scheduled for 2013. And for members who haven’t gotten a union paycheck in some time, the Actors Checklist will soon be available to help actors take an inventory of their careers by asking:  Are your headshots up to date? Are you taking classes? Do you have a website? There is literally a thousand years of acting experience in our local that can help members find success and make sure that they are making an effort in the right areas. It’s an exciting time in Philadelphia, but the next step is up to us: Can we keep the momentum going into 2013 or will we look back and say, “Remember when?” I know what I think; are you coming with me?



Frank Traynor takes a smartphone shot of (L-R) Shahin Izadi, Barry Brait and Professor Eran Preis.

(L-R) Tyrone McCall (vice chair of Philadelphia Unemployment Project), John Dodds (director, PUP) and SAG-AFTRA Local Co-President John Wooten.


he SAG-AFTRA holiday party was more than just fun. Toys collected at the holiday party on Dec. 4 at Chili’s in Bala Cynwyd were delivered to Philadelphia Unemployment Project on Dec. 17 for distribution to children at its holiday event on Dec. 20.

Barry Brait gives direction to an auditioner. 

From Script to Screen: Working with SAG-AFTRA By Brian Benz, SAG-AFTRA Signatory Producer for OFF-TIME


n May of 2012, 360 Digital Studios LLC went into production on its second feature-length film, OFF-TIME. The film was executive produced by and marks the screenwriting debut of Matt Cantor, a talented young screenwriter from New Jersey. The film is produced by Brian Bentz and directed by Robert L. Mickles. They applied online for the SAG Low Budget Agreement. The film follows young actor Cliff Raines, played by Adam LaVorgna (7th Heaven, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, The Beautician and the Beast and Outside Providence), as he struggles with the pressures of being alone in Hollywood. Cliff ends up finding companionship with Christina Ricelli, played by talented newcomer Valerie Renee Heckel, a 17-year-old high school student with troubles of her own. The film also features a supporting cast of familiar faces such as Chris Owen (The Sherminator, American Pie, October Sky, Major Payne, She’s All That), Jerod Mixon (Old School; The New Guy; Me, Myself & Irene), Rakim (Hip-Hop Legend), Kenneth McGregor (X-Men, Cocktail), Tony Luke Jr. (The Nail: The Story of Joey Nardone, Invincible) and Gerry Bednob (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Politics of Love). It also features an excellent cast of soon-to-be household names: Johnny Christos, Alexis Aponte, Aleksandra Svetlichnaya, Cheryl Siwy-Spadt, Jessica Czop, Robin Jarrett, Victoria Gates and Morgan West, just to name a few. Shooting wrapped in late August 2012 and the film will premiere in 4,000 digital theaters in 2013. The official website, teaser and IMDb page are coming soon. For the most up-to-date information and exclusive content, like the film on Facebook (/OFFTIMEmovie) and follow us on Twitter (@OFFTIMEmovie).

New Child Labor Law Signed in Pennsylvania


“Staff and members of SAG-AFTRA helped push the bill and provided important language updates throughout the drafting process. Members should expect activism where these issues are concerned, whether it’s at the bargaining table or in Harrisburg,” said SAG-AFTRA Philadelphia Local Co-President John Wooten. “Child actors are particularly vulnerable and we’re grateful our efforts and the efforts of our partners paid off.” The new law includes language that states where there is a conflict with the law, collective bargaining agreements, such as SAG-AFTRA and AEA contracts with stricter provisions, supersede the new provisions. For more information, please see the press release from Rep. Tom Murt’s office.

ov. Tom Corbett recently signed into law Pennsylvania House Bill 1548, the Child Labor Law. The legislation is a complete overhaul of the state’s former child labor laws and includes important protective measures for children who work in film, television and other performance industries. Representative Tom Murt authored the bill after the reality television show Jon and Kate Plus 8, shot in Pennsylvania in 2009, revealed state laws needed to be revised to address concerns with young performers. After being passed by the House, the bill was amended in the Senate under the leadership of Labor and Industry Committee Chairman John Gordner to incorporate a more comprehensive rewrite of the state’s child labor laws. 

Trained to Lead

Local Leaders and Activists Go to School


n Nov. 10, 2012, almost 40 SAG-AFTRA leaders and activists gathered at the Crowne Plaza in Philadelphia to discuss leadership, leadership styles and what it will take to make a successful union. Facilitating the event was Dr. Susan Schurman, the dean of the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University, and one of the co-facilitators of the merger process between SAG and AFTRA in 2012. The training was intensely personal, with each leader evaluating their own leadership style in context of the needs of the new union. The group consisted of broadcasters and actors, new members and seasoned veterans — a great mix of perspectives in order to take on the challenges ahead of us!

The leadership training course in action.

On The Set

Broadcast Beat

Compiled by J. Emerson McGowan


By Neil Rattigan ontract talks between CBS 3 and SAG-AFTRA are underway. Union proposals include 4-percent pay raises per year (5 percent for Web staffers), night differential (extra pay for the graveyard shift), four weeks vacation after 10 years and five weeks vacation after 20 years, more health and retirement contributions, notifications of job openings in writing, and limiting producers to one-hour newscasts per day.  CBS is proposing — among other things — cutting termination pay from five weeks to two, increasing the number of management employees to six, allowing non-union employees to appear on-air asking questions, and up to seven days of noncompensated work for staffers earning $100,000 or more. KYW-TV cleaned up again at the Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards. It brought home 13 statues, including News Excellence, Investigative and Special Event Coverage. Eyewitness News welcomes Jenn Bernstein to the team as a general assignment reporter. She comes to us from WTIC/FOXCT Hartford.  The Eyewitness Sports family has grown by two — WIP’s Robb Ellis joins CBS 3 as a sports reporter/anchor. He’s been with WIP since May 2007. Eyewitness sports anchor Lesley Van Arsdall is a mom for the second time. She and husband Mike Joson welcomed Crosby Michael Joson on Oct. 4.  

Susan Austin, a SAG member since 2009, recently booked a two-day principal role as Barbara, a wealthy patron, on an episode of the new Netflix series House of Cards being shot in Baltimore metro.

Total Traffic Network

Joseph DeBona Jr. shot a SAG pilot called Ruby and has a speaking role as the character Mansour.


Randy Louis played a featured therapy patient with Bradley Cooper and Chris Tucker in the feature Silver Linings Playbook, shot here in the Philadelphia metro area. He was cast as a boxing promoter in a TV pilot based on the Clay (Ali)-Liston fights and recently portrayed a motel manager and lawyer in two SAGAFTRA indie productions.


Joe Barlam worked on Noah as a “special ability” soldier/ personal guard to Tubal Cain (the bad guy) played by Ray Winstone. Sara Jane Blazo had a great 2012, besides landing a principal role in a Pennsylvania Lottery commercial, she was lucky enough to stand-in for Sigourney Weaver on the Political Animals pilot; which was shot here in metro Philadelphia. Michael Broussard won a recurring role as The Chairman in the SAG comedic Web series R.O.D.; played Timothy the Pharmacist in the SAG comedic short Out for Vengeance, which premiered at the Trocadero in June; played Benny Filberhet in the award-winning SAG short A Turn of the Blinds, which was screened as part of the Media Film Festival’s Best of the Fest on Aug. 2, 2012 Helen Chong snagged a prime, front-row spot in a new Pennsylvania Lottery holiday spot.

By Sam Clover and Randy Chepigan

t the Total Traffic Network Philadelphia shop, patience is b being tested as we approach the one-year anniversary of the expiration of our current contract. In our continued attempt to simultaneously reach agreements under a single contract between parent company Clear Channel and 11 nationwide SAG-AFTRA Total Traffic shops, we may be seeing a resolution in the next few weeks. Wages and part-time benefits remain our priorities in keeping a strong contract. Meanwhile, we continue to move forward despite recent cutbacks, welcoming a few new (much needed!) members to our shop. We all continue to uphold our shop’s high professional standards during contract talks, while bargaining in good faith toward a fair and reasonable new agreement.

J. Emerson McGowan shot a day-player role in Spielberg’s Lincoln, which premiered November 9, 2012, and was cast as a supporting player in the SAG-AFTRA indie Reunion 108. His website is Michael E. Russo had 10 days as core background on Ben Stiller’s remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and was personally directed by Stiller. Russo, along with his wife Gail, has also started his own production company, Glimmer Productions. Their stated purpose is being “dedicated to making content here in the Philadelphia area using SAG-AFTRA talent and making sure that they’re paid for their talent.” The Russos' website is


By Clinton Petty


t was an exciting Summer for the producers at WPHT. Nikki Marra was promoted to executive producer of the Steve Martorano and Rich Zeoli Show. Eric Strain was also promoted to executive producer of the Dom Giordano Show. Michael Cerio, executive producer of the Chris Stigall Show travelled to the Republican National Convention. The whole staff covered the presidential election.

Nikki Corinne Thomas had the amazing opportunity to work with choreographer Mandy Moore and compete against Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in the big dance scene of Silver Linings Playbook. Nikki said, “It was a dream-come-true experience!” To have your work included in On The Set, send an email to J. Emerson McGowen.


SAG-AFTRA members, officers and Local staff marched in Philadelphia’s 25th Annual Tri-State Labor Day Parade and Family Celebration, and then greeted guests at their booth at Penn’s Landing Great Plaza.

Philadelphia Local Co-Presidents John Wooten and Catherine Brown with National Executive Director David White at NBC10.




n Sept. 27, 2012, the SAG-AFTRA Philadelphia Local Conservatory presented Finding Your Place in the New 24/7 Newsroom, with panelists anchorman Larry Kane, SAG-AFTRA Vice President of Broadcasters and SAG-AFTRA Philadelphia Co-President Catherine Brown, News Director Chris Blackman, reporter Cherri Gregg of KYW Newsradio, Assistant Executive Director for Broadcasting Mary Cavallero and moderator Paul Gluck, GM of TUTV (Temple University Television). The panel discussed the changes that have made multitasking the new normal in broadcasting. The seminar was designed to help on-air people, both current and future, navigate the world of interactive local news coverage and new media that makes a career in broadcasting a whole new ball game.

A room full of attentive broadcasters and hopefuls gained insights into the new newsroom.

From Script to Screen: Working with SAG-AFTRA By Tommy Stackhouse, SAG-AFTRA Signatory Producer for Parallax


est Chester natives Graham Nolte and Tommy Stackhouse started making films together while students at Henderson High School. During college, they continued to make films, even though they were separated by thousands of miles. After college and back home in West Chester, they continued to work at the film company they started in high school, G-ram Films. Parallax, a SAG Low Budget Agreement film in production in West Chester, is a historical piece centering around the popularization of the Internet. Former Princeton professor Abbot Allen has a dream invention that he wants to unleash but runs into problems bringing his dream to life. To follow the project see their website at 

Drillinger at the podium.

Conservatory attendees at Brian Drillinger’s October presentation.

Brian Drillinger, former creative director of the Larry Moss Acting Studio in Los Angeles was the featured speaker at a SAG-AFTRA Philadelphia Conservatory event on Oct. 15. Drillinger recently relocated to the Philadelphia area and is now teaching master scene study and on-camera audition technique at the Philadelphia Acting Studio.

Sheeran Publishes Memoir


ick Sheeran is an odd duck in the broadcast industry. He was born in Philadelphia and worked here for his whole career. Many broadcasters are nomads for a large part of their careers but Sheeran used his knowledge of his birth city and its people to good advantage during his 30 years as a reporter on KYW-TV3. Since his retirement from television screens, Sheeran has kept busy teaching journalism at Temple University and serving on the SAG-AFTRA Philadelphia Local Board. Those things still weren’t enough to keep Sheeran occupied, so in his spare time he has written his memoir. The book is called News Hound, with the subtitle From Halfball in South Philly to TV News. It tells the Dick Sheeran story from his beginnings on Hicks Street just after World War II to his career in the newspaper business and his jump to broadcasting. It’s all in the book and told with true-to-life anecdotes culled from Sheeran’s past. As a TV reporter in a major market during the 1970s and ’80s, Sheeran crossed paths with many celebrities, some in unexpected ways. Often these encounters occurred before the celebrity had achieved that status. For instance, how did Arnold Schwarzenegger wind up as Dick Sheeran’s driver? That story and many others can be found between the covers of News Hound. One minor omission, and this will only bother those new to the Philadelphia area – Sheeran never explains how you play “halfball.”

More Holiday Party Pix

News Hound, ComteQ Publishing Margate, NJ Paperback, $17.95

See all the holiday party photos online!

Photos by Larry Degala

Conservatory Features Acting Teacher


To tweet or not to tweet . . .


he use of social media has exploded across the country and SAGAFTRA broadcast members are dealing with its use in the workplace. Unfortunately, there is a potpourri of rules to follow. At the April 14-15 Broadcast Steering Committee meeting, there was a panel discussion on the use of social media. The panel consisted of disc jockeys Cynthia Fox of Los Angeles and Race Taylor of New York City, as well as broadcast journalists Catherine Brown of NBC-10 in Philadelphia and Bruce Leshan of Washington. They discussed the pros and cons of social media use. Leshan said his job has become harder and more stressful because of added requirements and no additional renumeration. He’s required to post each day on the station’s website. The challenge with Twitter is the expectation to file constant feeds and deciding when to do it while covering a story. (While covering one trial from start to finish, his tweets filled 96 pages.) On the positive side, he says tweeting can help build a fanbase and allow you to float an idea about a story and get immediate reaction. You can utilize your daily tweets when writing your story for air or the Web. The downside is the difficulty in focusing, the chance for mistakes or missing something important in relation to the story. Brown said everyone in the NBC-10 newsroom is encouraged to use social media, but they aren’t given usage guidelines, which couild lead to unintended consequences. Fox said her station has a Web team to help promote what the DJs are doing. She said much of the material posted on social media is self-generated. Tweets can be used to reach the fanbase and video blogging has been great. Twitter and Facebook are used to drive issues. Taylor said Twitter and Facebook are used to increase listenership, and such use is generational, since 30-to-50-year-olds regard it in a different way from 18-to-30-year-olds. The station philosophy regarding the use of social media is 80 percent about the music and 20 percent personality driven. Taylor said Facebook and Twitter should be treated like a hot microphone. When it comes to something controversial, only the facts should be shared. SAG-AFTRA staff attorney Steve Zimmerman said there’s an ownership issue as well. Realizing social media is free advertising, employers want to control it. Stations sometimes claim to own your Facebook and Twitter accounts, and

Upcoming Philadelphia SAG-AFTRA Conservatory Events February 2, 2013 The SAG Foundation and Temple University present: Working in Indieworld: A Seminar for Actors & Filmmakers, and two casting access workshops Temple University Main Campus at Annenberg Hall April 29, 2013 Auditioning for the Movies for Beginners presented by Doug Roberts (SAG-AFTRA/AEA) Location TBA Coming in May, Date TBA Stunts 101 — presented by SAG-AFTRA National Co-Chair, Stunt & Safety Committee Tim Gallin Location TBA For more information contact Frank Traynor 215-760-8535, 800-724-0767,

By Bill Shusta

members may find it hard to take their followers with them when they change employment. Broadcast Steering Committee Co-Chair Joe Krebs said the use of social media should be complimentary to coverage of the story. Bob Butler of San Francisco said that, despite the hassles it creates, social media is a source for story coverage. SAG-AFTRA Assistant Executive Director for Broadcasting Mary Cavallaro said this issue is surfacing in contract negotiations. Committee leadership will consider a suggestion that a subcommittee be appointed to develope a game plan for the social media issue.

SAG-AFTRA Philadelphia Sessions Winter 2012/2013  

The Winter 2012/2013 issue of SAG-AFTRA Philadelphia Sessions newsletter.