All work and no contract has made members of the Screen Actors Guild a surly bunch.
While support for an actors' strike was already running thin thanks to the industry-wide burnout still being felt from the 100-day writers' strike in 2007-08, the current state of the nation's economy—not to mention the just-underway awards season—has Hollywood up in arms over what could be another potentially disastrous work stoppage.
A select group of A-listers is in favor of authorizing a strike, should SAG leadership choose to go that route, but nearly 150 big-deal actors have now gone ahead and publicized their avowed opposition to such a move.
George Clooney, Tom Hanks, Alec Baldwin, Cameron Diaz, Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Charlize Theron, Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman and Eva Longoria Parker are among the boldfaced names found on a petition that was sent to SAG National President Alan Rosenberg asking the board to cancel a strike-authorization vote scheduled for Jan. 2.
"We feel very strongly that SAG members should not vote to authorize a strike at this time," the petition read. "We don't think that an authorization can be looked at as merely a bargaining tool. It must be looked at as what it is—an agreement to strike if negotiations fail.
"We support our union and we support the issues we're fighting for, but we do not believe in all good conscience that now is the time to be putting people out of work."
David Boreanaz, Ewan McGregor, Sally Field, Michael C. Hall, Felicity Huffman, Rob Lowe, Kevin Spacey, Josh Brolin, Pierce Brosnan, Glenn Close, Donald Sutherland, Billy Crystal, Ted Danson, Kelsey Grammer, Edward Norton, Tobey Maguire, Bradley Whitford and Helen Hunt also lent their signatures to the document.
Then again, plenty of A- and B-listers are in favor of authorizing a strike, having signed a "Statement of Support" for Rosenberg & Co.'s studio-fighting tactics.
Among the 30 prominent thesps who will stand by SAG if it chooses to play even harder ball are Mel Gibson, Ed Harris, Holly Hunter, Martin Sheen, Sandra Oh, Jerry O'Connell, Rob Morrow, Hal Holbrook, Dixie Carter, Ed Asner, Elliott Gould, Valerie Harper, Robert Hays, Justine Bateman, Scott Bakula and Diane Ladd.
SAG's contract with the studio-representing Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers expired June 30 and actors have been working under the terms of their own deal ever since.
As was the case with the Writers Guild of America, SAG continues to quibble over new-media residuals and other compensation-related issues.
The AMPTP's response to SAG's upcoming vote was as follows: "SAG members are going to be asked to bail out a failed negotiating strategy by going on strike during one of the worst economic crises in history. We hope that working actors will study our contract offer carefully and come to the conclusion that no strike can solve the problems that have been created by SAG's own failed negotiation strategy."