They star such classic names as Art Carney and haven’t been seen on television for decades. It was recently discovered by the Screen Actors Guild, however, that a series of 28 Coca-Cola ads have been airing in the soda company’s boutique stores for years without any residuals being paid to the actors involved.
The problem was brought to SAG’s attention after one of the actors involved walked into a store and saw himself on a TV screen. The guild soon reached an agreement with Coke on the issue and is in the process of paying out hundreds of thousands of dollars to almost 300 actors, although some are turning out to be impossible to identify.
Problem not uncommon
Such unpaid residuals, whether intentional are not, aren’t just a problem in boutique stores. A recent TV spot-check by SAG discovered more than $500,000 of unpaid residuals owed to commercial actors.
SAG taped specific times and channels and checked to see whether the performers who appeared were paid the proper residuals. The program reviewed commercials on Spanish-language stations as well as those in which stunt drivers appeared and singers were used.
According to the guild, for every hour taped and reviewed, more than $1,000 in unpaid retirement and health insurance contributions were identified, as well as unpaid fees that ranged from the hundreds of dollars to the tens of thousands.
“Even though individual residual payments can be small, commercial performers depend on (them) for their livelihood and their healthcare,” said guild prexy Richard Masur. “By failing to properly report the reuse of commercials, advertisers are, in effect, stealing from our members.”
(Nick Madigan contributed to this report.)