So the SAG campaign for board of director seats currently underway is now starting to mirror the U.S. presidential race. That’s because a celebrity war is overwhelming the real issues at stake for the biggest actors guild, like residuals and non-union work in New Media for the new contract. But perhaps it was inevitable. After all, SAG and AFTRA battled over big Hollywood actor endorsements just six weeks ago, and this SAG election between Unite For Strength and MembershipFirst is a de facto referendum on whether the two warring thesp guilds should declare a truce and even join together. On Wednesday, Unite For Strength sent to the media a list of high-profile actors who are supporting UFS’s slate of candidates. Mostly, these are the same VIPs who vigorously opposed SAG’s MembershipFirst contingent’s open declaration of hostility on AFTRA and the ratification of the smaller actors and broadcasters union’s recent contract negotiated with the AMPTP. (This, after AFTRA pulled out of joint contract negotiations with SAG after years together of bargaining with employers.)
In an email message distributed to 38,000 Hollywood SAG members, Sally Field urged fellow actors to support election of the slate in order “to end the senseless war with AFTRA and start building a united front of actors to fight for more working opportunities and better pay.” While Lewis Black declared, “Enough is enough is enough. Membership First has the divide and conquer strategy all wrong – the idea is for us to be united and them to be divided so we do the conquering, not the other way around.” And Patricia Heaton said, “SAG’s ongoing battle with AFTRA and the fighting within our own union is weakening us at the bargaining table,” said Patricia Heaton. “We obviously need to chart a different course, and this election gives members the chance to do it.” Also on the list of supporters of Unite For Strength are: Alec Baldwin, Ed Begley Jr, Kate Burton, Stephen Collins, Peter Coyote, Marcia Cross, Jon Cryer, Tim Daly, Jeff Daniels, Tate Donovan, Victor Garber, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Tom Hanks, Patricia Heaton, Felicity Huffman, Melina Kanakaredes, Anthony LaPaglia, Rob Lowe, Peter MacNicol, William H. Macy, Camryn Manheim, Alfred Molina, Ron Perlman, Freddie Prinze Jr, Amy Ryan, Tony Shalhoub, Elisabeth Shue, Gary Sinise, Eric Stoltz, Meshach Taylor, John Turturro, Nia Vardalos, Kerry Washington and Steven Weber.
I checked and MembershipFirst has not yet, and may not, issue a counterpoint press release naming the high-profile actors in its camp. So who among the names on the 2008 Solidarity Statement here are MF supporters — Jack Nicholson, Sean Penn, Ben Stiller, Kevin Costner, Viggo Mortensen, Patricia Arquette, Rosanna Arquette, Ed Asner, Susan Blakely, Powers Boothe, Tom Bosley, Josh Brolin, Dixie Carter, Dave Clennon, Beverly D’Angelo, Bill Daniels, Laura Dern, Sharon Gless, Andy Griffith, Louis Gossett Jr, Ed Harris, John Heard, Marg Helgenberger, Holly Hunter, Sally Kirkland, Sheryl Lee, Ron Livingston, Tony Lo Bianco, Peter MacNicol, Amy Madigan, Debi Mazar, Anne Meara, Laraine Newman, Nick Nolte, Edward James Olmos, Alexandra Paul, William Petersen, Patricia Richardson, Rob Schneider, Martin Sheen, Harry Dean Stanton, Connie Stevens, Jerry Stiller, George Takei, Lea Thompson, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Rainn Wilson, and Daphne Zuniga?