Thursday, September 7, 2006
Screen Actors Guild Names New General Counsel
By TINA BAY, Staff Writer
Entertainment labor attorney Duncan Crabtree-Ireland has stepped into the role of general counsel for the Screen Actors Guild, the organization said in a release yesterday.
Crabtree-Ireland told the MetNews that the promotion was a “fantastic honor,” particularly in light of the union’s rich history and its significant contributions to members and performers in general.
As general counsel, Crabtree-Ireland will lead the guild’s affairs and strategy and oversee its legal, governance, and affirmative action/diversity departments.
The attorney joined the guild’s legal team in 2000, moving up to the position of assistant general counsel in 2002 and deputy general counsel in 2005. In July, he became the organization’s interim general counsel after the previous general counsel, David White, decided to leave his post to pursue consulting work.
Crabtree-Ireland, 34, commented that though he never thought he would occupy the position of general counsel, working under White’s leadership since 2002 has helped equip him for his new job.
“I’ve loved the six years that I’ve spent here, and had an exposure to everything that our legal department does, so I feel as prepared as one could be for taking on this responsibility,” he said.
The guild’s Interim National Executive Director Peter Frank, who took over after the guild fired Greg Hessinger last fall, said in a press release that Crabtree-Ireland was deserving of elevation to the leadership role.
“Duncan Crabtree-Ireland’s unmatched dedication to actors and unequaled depth of knowledge of the critical issues facing Screen Actors Guild make him the ideal general counsel,” he said, noting the lawyer’s valuable past contributions to the union.
Going forward, Crabtree-Ireland said the guild’s legal team will continue facing challenges as technological advances with the Internet, cellular phones, and other mobile devices increasingly impact members’ rights to control the use of their image and likeness.
The legal dept. will need to maintain an up-to-date understanding of the technology and how it affects the guild’s television and film contracts, for example what happens when products made for TV or film distribution end up being distributed over the Internet, he explained.
Because the guild’s existing agreements cannot always anticipate new technological developments in the way entertainment is distributed and advertised, he said, his team must navigate through complex issues to ensure that performers are fairly compensated for the use of their likeness and image.
In addition to his work with the actors’ union, Crabtree-Ireland maintains professional and community involvement in various other arenas.
He is the current treasurer and past co-president of the Lesbian and Gay Lawyers Assn. of Los Angeles, and the present Vice Chair of the Los Angeles County Bar Assn.’s delegation to the Conference Delegates of California Bar Assn.
For the past three years, he has served as a judge pro tem and court arbitrator for the Los Angeles Superior Court, a State Bar-appointed special master, and an adjunct professor of international law, focusing on Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, at USC School of Law.
Prior to joining the guild, Crabtree-Ireland worked for one year as a deputy district attorney for Los Angeles County.
He was admitted to the State Bar in 1998, after receiving his law degree from UC Davis School of Law, where he was inducted to the Order of Barristers. He earned a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University in 1994.
Crabtree-Ireland said his current position with the guild is a “dream job.”
“I foresee myself being here in this role for a long time,” he added.
The Screen Actors Guild, headquartered in Los Angeles, is the nation’s largest labor union representing working actors. Established in 1933, it currently represents approximately 120,000 working actors in various media including film, television, commercials, industrials, video games and music videos. The union engages in regular collective bargaining every three years with the advertising, television and film industries, with its next major negotiations scheduled for 2008.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company