AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week There are differing legal opinions over whether the guild is legally bound to pay off Hessinger. Settlement talks are expected to take place within the next few weeks. Also fired were three executives recently hired by Hessinger, two of whom have also retained attorneys. Hessinger declined to comment on the situation Monday. Rosenberg said the decision to fire Hessinger was not an easy one. While he praised the executive’s abilities and union commitment, he said a change was needed. “Many members of your national board felt strongly that we needed a fresh start – a national executive director with new energy and new thinking who is fully committed to the priorities of your new leadership team, particularly with regard to our tougher approach to collective bargaining,” he stated. SAG’s Membership First faction backed Rosenberg’s presidential run and now holds a slim majority on the national board. The faction had been particularly vocal in its disappointment over negotiators failing to make any progress in getting a bigger percentage of DVD revenue for their members during contract talks with film and television producers last year. Screen Actors Guild President Alan Rosenberg’s explanation to members of why CEO Greg Hessinger was fired called for union solidarity. Instead, it has ignited a bitter war of words via e-mail that reveals the depths of the division the action has caused. SAG’s New York division President Paul Christie sent out a blistering letter to members Monday afternoon, stating that the union has been split “as never before.” This followed a message from former SAG First Vice President Mike Farrell blasting Rosenberg and members of the Hollywood board who supported the firing. The recently elected Rosenberg was presiding over his first national board meeting last month when Hessinger was fired after just six months on the job. Hessinger had signed a four-year contract last spring and has made clear that he expects to be paid his remaining salary of $1.6 million. He has hired high-powered attorney Bert Fields to represent him. Hessinger was hired earlier this year by a board supportive of then-SAG President Melissa Gilbert to replace Bob Pisano, who had become a lightning rod for criticism among the Membership First members, who had long sought to oust him. In his letter, Rosenberg addressed the opposition to Hessinger’s firing, mostly from the members of the union’s New York and regional branches who stormed out of the meeting in protest. “Rarely are difficult decisions unanimous, and it is important to note that there were some who disagreed with this decision,” Rosenberg wrote, adding that he has “the greatest respect for those who express an opposing viewpoint and for the rights of the minority.” And those with opposing viewpoints are not mincing words. Christie said in a brief interview Monday that “my opinion of everything that happened is pretty much the opposite of (Rosenberg’s).” In his letter, Christie wrote that SAG’s national board has been deeply divided for five years and that the vote to fire Hessigner was far from unanimous: 54-46. “We unequivocally felt that there were absolutely no grounds to fire Mr. Hessinger,” Christie stated. “In point of fact, we saw Greg as the next 20 years of sanity, stability and leadership. “This was a critically bad and reckless decision that has further damaged us from every angle.” Farrell’s letter got far more personal: “I have no way of knowing if our new president is a liar, a hypocrite or simply unable to control those who chose him to run.” Rosenberg pledges to have input from all of the union’s leadership when it comes to selecting Hessinger’s replacement. “It is my promise that this process will include representatives from each of our three divisions, and we will work until we find a candidate who meets the needs of all our members,” he wrote. Greg Hernandez, (818) 713-3758 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!