The fi fteenth annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards presentation in January 2009 could not have taken place at a more charged time for the union representing fi lm and television actors. Then in contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, SAG had recently begun debating whether to strike-a possibility fi nally averted by ratifi cation of a new contract in June. The awards ceremony-which the SAG Awards website notes is “the only national network television show to acknowledge the work of union members”—presented a perfect opportunity, then, if SAG wished to plead its case before the viewing audience.1