Jeremy urges Screen Actors Guild to call off strike
A-listers in last-ditch plea to stop actors’ strike

By Guy Adams in Los Angeles
Wednesday December 17 2008

Dozens of the film industry’s biggest stars, including George Clooney and Cameron Diaz, have joined a last-ditch effort to prevent an actors’ strike from crippling the Hollywood awards season for the second consecutive year.

They are among 130 A-list celebrities who signed a letter urging the Screen Actors Guild, a trade union involved in a long-running dispute with major film studios, to call off a strike ballot scheduled for next month.

“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.

The letter bore the names of a staggering array of leading actors, including Glenn Close, Eva Longoria Parker, Tobey Maguire, Tom Hanks, Heather Graham, Kevin Spacey, Charlize Theron, Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman, Jeremy Irons and Helen Mirren.

It was written by Rhea Perlman, wife of Danny DeVito, and sent on Monday to board members of the guild, which has spent most of the year deadlocked in negotiations with the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers over a new employment contract for its 120,000 members.

The guild’s failure to agree a deal has caused it to fall out with rival unions, and seen Hollywood spend recent months on “virtual strike”.

Mounting hostility towards the leadership of the Screen Actors Guild spilled over on Monday, when its president, Alan Rosenberg, spoke to members in New York who have been critical of the decision to ballot over strike action.

Actor Alec Baldwin called for Mr Rosenberg and other negotiators to resign. “I’m curious why three other major unions came to terms with the [studios] and we haven’t. They have failed as negotiators.”

The Screen Actors Guild, meanwhile, has managed to get 31 high-profile members, including Mel Gibson and Martin Sheen, to put their names to a rival letter endorsing the strike bid. (© Independent News Service)

– Guy Adams in Los Angeles