Although the Oscar is considered by many to be the highest honor bestowed on an actor or actress, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards are arguably the most honest trophies handed out at this time of the year. In recent years, SAG also has demonstrated its ability to alternately jumpstart a career and nearly bring the Los Angeles economy crashing to the floor.
Technology and the Screen Actors Guild
Posted on the Screen Actors Guild website is a brief history of this labor union written by Ken Orsatti in 1995. Orsatti writes that SAG was born in the 1930s, a time when performers did not enjoy the working conditions and benefits they have today. Irving Thalberg, the producer whose name graces a high honor bestowed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, reportedly was vehemently opposed to SAG.
Encompassing film and television stars, the Screen Actors Guild now wields considerable power, especially when it comes to new technologies. The burgeoning videocassette market in 1980, for instance, prompted a SAG strike to ensure that actors received residuals from the home video market. The growth of pay television stations also contributed to the duration of the strike, which caused a delay in the start of the fall TV season.
After the devastating Writers Strike in 2007, the Screen Actors Guild seemed poised for its own strike. But, as The Huffington Post reported, 130 celebrities encouraged the SAG membership not to put people out of work in a tough economy. A strike by SAG members at that time could have been part of a devastating one-two punch for Hollywood.
The Most Honest of Awards
When it comes to the Oscars, there is a fair amount of lobbying by the studios to promote movies or performances, most notably in the "For Your Consideration" ads that run in Variety and other Hollywood trade publications. As The New York Times points out, though, some ads, such as one promoting Sylvester Stallone in "Rambo: First Blood Part II," are done simply to honor an actor and aren't taken seriously for awards contention.
As the 2012 online press kit points out, the SAG Awards are done via peer vote, meaning actors vote for actors. That's not to say, however, that these peer awards are not a decent barometer for the Oscars. In 2010, for instance, Sandra Bullock, Jeff Bridges, Mo'Nique, and Christoph Waltz each won a coveted trifecta of awards that included a Golden Globe, SAG Award, and Oscar.
Speaking of Honesty: Betty White
2010 also was the year that the SAG Awards unleashed Betty White courtesy of the Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2009, White had a field day in the romantic comedy "The Proposal," openly groping Sandra Bullock in one classic scene. When SAG honored White months later, Bullock was on hand and the banter between the actresses was priceless.
The 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will be broadcast live on TNT and TBS Sunday, January 29, at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT.
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