On May 18, 2022, the Actors Equity Association announced that the cast and stage managers of four mega-producer Scott Rudin’s Broadway productions —to kill a robinrevival 2018 Iceman descends2020 west side story revival and The Lehman Trilogy –Nondisclosure agreements associated with these works will be waived. Equity, the national union of professional actors and stage managers, launched an investigation into the non-disclosure agreements after reports of widespread employee abuse by Rudin broke in 2021. The release follows a settlement between Equity and the Broadway League, a trade association of producers, theater owners and other union professionals that facilitates contract negotiations between producers, theater owners and unions.
While the exact language of these NDAs has not been disclosed, Equity’s director of communications, David Levy, said: “Generally speaking, these NDAs are just beyond any appropriate boundaries that people should or should not be able to discuss. NDAs should never be used to protect someone from Influenced by his own bad behavior.”
The decision on the four Rudin contracts sparked broader discussions about the overall use of NDAs by Equity’s 50,000+ members nationwide. “Many NDAs are written in such a way that signers feel like they’re not even allowed to tell people that the NDA exists, which is nonsense,” Levy said. Following the settlement, Equity reached out to its members, informing all members that if they doubted or had questions about the NDA they signed — whether it was a Broadway production deal or elsewhere — they should contact the union for help.
Equity and the Broadway League have signed an agreement to discuss the use of NDAs in future union contracts. Previous industry reports have incorrectly stated that the league has agreed to stop using confidential language in contracts or in riders to protect intellectual property, financial information or other limited, approved circumstances, but so far the two groups have only agreed to negotiate . “So far, the consensus we’ve reached is on what the specific Scott Rudin NDA has issued, and the commitment to develop what the new rules are going to move forward,” Levy said. “We haven’t finalized what The new rules will become reality. “
As part of these discussions, Equity and the league recommitted to complying with existing policies: “Basically, Broadway League producers may not require or require any actor or stage manager to sign a nondisclosure, nondisclosure, nondisparaging agreement because unless it is included in the Among the additional terms approved by Equity, otherwise a prerequisite for employment,” Levy said. An NDA delivered to a union member as a separate contract rather than an add-on might bypass this rule; in theory, this is how the Rudin NDA escaped Equity’s approval in the first place.
Going forward, Equity is pushing to include additional terms for all NDA languages - which in turn means that Equity will always see and have to approve NDA languages. Second, Equity wants to limit the NDA to cover intellectual property (“The producer of the back to the Future Don’t want people talking about how cars work”), financial specs, scheduling (“if a show is in development and has not been announced for release”), etc., not workplace behavior. Talks in progress; no set agreed Agreement deadline.
“We’re all working toward a common goal of ensuring that legal mechanisms are appropriately used to protect the vital creative work that’s going on,” Levy said. “We need to make sure that people like them can be treated in a safe and dignified way. workplace work – everyone deserves it. I think anything we can do to make it easier for them to speak up without fear of retaliation is a positive thing.”
What Equity Members Should Know
According to David Levy, director of communications for the Actors Equity Association, any Equity member who has signed an NDA or has questions about an NDA they are required to sign should:
1. Contact the equity representative listed in the contract.
2. Be prepared to provide relevant documents.
3. Awaiting Equity’s legal review of the contract and advice on next steps.
4. Confirm that any NDA you are asked to sign is an additional term to your contract. If you are unsure whether an NDA is an additional term, please contact Equity through your sales representative.