More Than 130 A-List Actors Oppose Strike Vote

17 Dec

LOS ANGELES: Dozens of film industry’s biggest stars including Oscar winners George Clooney, Charlize Theron, Morgan Freeman and Tom Hanks have joined a last-ditch attempt to prevent an actors’ strike from crippling the Hollywood awards season for the second consecutive year.

The A-list performers registered their opposition in a letter that circulated on the Internet as union leaders, including Screen Actors Guild (SAG) President Alan Rosenberg met in New York City to seek support for a strike authorization.

The letter, sent to guild board members and staff is the latest sign of unhappiness with the leadership of the 120,000-strong union.

“We support our union and we support the issues we’re fighting for, but we do not believe now is the time to be putting people out of work,” said the letter, adding that a strike would create “economic hardship” for workers at every level of the movie business.

“We don’t think that an authorization can be looked at as merely a bargaining tool,” said the letter, signed by “Desperate Housewives” actress Eva Longoria Parker, “Spider-Man” star Tobey Maguire, among others. “It must be looked at as what it is – an agreement to strike if negotiations fail.”

Negotiations between SAG and the studios stalled earlier this year, and the actors have been working without a contract since the previous one expired June 30.

A federal mediator intervened last month, but broke off talks after two days, triggering SAG’s recent move to call for a strike-authorization vote.

The guild wants terms that are better than the deals accepted by directors, writers, stagehands and another actors union earlier in the year.

It is seeking union coverage for all Internet-only productions regardless of budget, residual payments for Internet productions replayed in ad-supported platforms online, and continued actor benefits during work stoppages, including those caused by strikes by other unions.

Any strike would plunge the entertainment industry into chaos, and could threaten award shows such as the Oscars, which takes place on February 22.

Last year, a 100-day walkout by screenwriters created havoc and up to US$2 billion in losses, according to some estimates.

– CNA/jk

Channel News Asia

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