1,200 rally in support of thesps' strike
It was another “sold-out house,” as Screen Actors Guild president William Daniels put it, as nearly 1,200 SAG and American Federation of Television & Radio Artists members held an informational meeting and march at Hollywood’s Palladium on Monday morning.The meeting, occurring in the fourth month of the commercial actors strike, was one of the biggest turnouts for the union — equal to the numbers that turned out at the union town hall meeting on July 27 at the Wilshire Ebell Theater. The event was used as both a morale-boosting exercise as well as a way to keep the membership informed, with the strike still showing no end in sight. “This is all meant to debunk their (ad agencies‘) skewed numbers, and the way they play with them, and I think it’s important to keep the membership informed about it,” said Daniels, who was pleased with the meeting’s turnout. The crowd poured into the heart of Hollywood after the meeting to march a route bordered by Sunset and Hollywood boulevards, Vine Street and Highland Avenue. The targets of the protest march were two McDonald’s restaurants, one of the many corporations being targeted by the commercial actors for continuing to shoot the same number of spots as usual, but with non-union talent. A significant number of thesps showed up, lending their support against what longtime Screen Actors Guild member and actress Valerie Harper called “an assault on the middle-income actor.” “We all need come out to show solidarity to support them,” Harper said, adding that the length of the strike should not bring weakness to the union. “We have to make it clear to the public and to the advertisers sitting across the negotiating table that SAG and AFTRA have complete resolve in this, we cannot give up.” Advertising industry negotiators’ stance is that they are not out to hurt the unions, but that they want to change the payment structures for advertising because of profound changes in the world of TV audiences. They contend the shrinking market shares for network television mandates that they no longer pay residuals to actors. They insist a new system of upfront buyouts is more viable. Actress Diane Ladd was vehement that corporate greed was to blame for the long strike. She added that union members need to stop crossing the picket lines. “Those who are crossing are not understanding the big picture. I understand the need to get a job and need to buy milk for your children. This is not about ego or being greedy, it’s about being fair,” Ladd said.