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Actor George Clooney

Clooney and Hanks Sign Petition Against SAG Strike

December 17, 2008 01:30 PM
by Rachel Balik
George Clooney and Tom Hanks are among the A-list celebrities who have signed a petition urging SAG to not hold a vote authorizing a strike.

Clooney and Hanks Oppose SAG Strike

More than 100 big-name stars, including George Clooney and Tom Hanks, are expressing unhappiness over the failed negotiations of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. (AMPTP). Since the two groups are not even close to reaching an agreement, SAG has decided to hold a vote for members in January to authorize a strike.

Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Carell are also among the stars who say that in light of economic woes, now is the wrong time to put people out of jobs. The petition urges SAG to postpone negotiations for three years.

There is a small group of actors, including Mel Gibson and Martin Sheen, who are supporting both the union and the strike.

Background: Actors, Producers Can’t Agree on Payments for Online Broadcasts

After several months of negotiations and a final, epic 27-hour session, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) have not yet settled how actors should be paid for work broadcast over the Internet and on cell phones. SAG says it will urge its members to vote for a strike. According to CNN, AMPTP has accused SAG of stubbornness inappropriate to a time of economic crisis. SAG says that it simply hopes the threat of a strike, which would shut down the entertainment industry for a second time within a year, will bolster the group’s bargaining strength.

The Sunday Mail initially reported that George Clooney and Jack Nicholson support a strike, and SAG had hoped that several other big Hollywood names would join them. However, it seems that as the possibility of a strike gets closer to reality, many A-listers have changed their tune.

SAG’s contract with the AMPTP expired June 30, as the two organizations tried and failed to negotiate a new deal. During the month of June, the entire industry appeared to be in a stalemate; agents even stopped booking movies for their clients. Some TV shows rushed to finish production before a strike could take place. Ultimately, although no agreement was reached, business continued and actors simply worked without a contract.

Related Topic: Domino effect of striking

The writers’ strike in early 2008 had wider negative ramifications for the industry. Crew workers who had been unemployed during the strike were still unable to find employment after work resumed, due to the shortened production schedules. After the strike, television production was down 45 percent.

The strike also lessened viewer enthusiasm for television. Shows returned when the strike resolved, but TV viewers in April and May 2008 decreased by nine percent. The low ratings threatened to seriously hurt networks as they were in the process of securing advertisers; NBC chief researcher Alan Wurtzel warned that it was impossible to assume that viewers would continue old patterns of TV watching.

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