Former Hollywood Reporter society columnist George Christy and the Screen Actors Guild have reached a confidential settlement in their long-running dispute over pension and health benefits that Christy has been receiving from the 98,000-member actors union.
Christy left the trade paper in October after it was widely reported that he was under investigation by SAG for receiving pension and health benefits for movies in which he received screen credit, but in which he did not actually appear.
SAG would not release details of the settlement, but issued this statement: The SAG-Producer Pension & Health Plans have completed their audit of contributions made by various producers relating to work performed by, and payments made to, George Christy, and have entered into a settlement agreement with Mr. Christy. The plans are satisfied that as a result of this settlement agreement, Mr. Christy will receive health and pension benefits to which he is entitled under the applicable collective bargaining agreements, and pension and health plan documents.
SAG was known to have been looking at a deal that would allow Christy to accrue pension and health benefits only for the films in which he appeared. Christys publicist, Howard Bragman, could not be reached for comment.
Christy, who had been with The Hollywood Reporter for more than 25 years, moonlighted as an actor, receiving bit parts in numerous films, including the 1999 remake of The Thomas Crown Affair, Seven (in which his only line was Uh, okay) and Domestic Disturbance, in which all that the audience sees is the back of his head.
Christys problems began a year ago when it was disclosed by this reporter that he was under investigation by SAG for allegedly receiving benefits for films he wasnt in. Several of the films in question -- including Kingpin, Gang Related, Soldier Boyz and Best Men -- had been produced by the Motion Picture Corporation of America (MPCA), whose founders, Brad Krevoy and Steve Stabler, had also given Christy free ocean-view office space from which he wrote his columns, at least a dozen of which favorably mentioned them and their company.
Christys part-time acting career first landed him in trouble in 1993, when the SAG pension and health plans sued him, Krevoy, Stabler and several others, alleging that Krevoy and Stabler had given nonexistent acting jobs to friends so that they could collect SAG health benefits. In an out-of-court settlement, the MPCA agreed to reimburse SAG for a total of more than $100,000 in health benefits paid out to Christy and several other sham employees.
In 1998, SAG also began an investigation into another MPCA film called Love, Cheat & Steal -- for which Christy received screen credit, but in which he did not appear. SAG later disallowed any benefit credits for Christy from that film.
Christy has told reporters that he actually did work on the six MPCA films in question, but that his roles were all left on the cutting-room floor.
For the record, this reporter, who had worked at The Hollywood Reporter for 10 years, left the paper when its editor, Bob Dowling, refused to run the story about Christy. Dowling later ran a short piece about SAGs investigation of Christy that had been written by two other reporters.