The George W. Bush presidential campaign has backtracked on its prior commitment to shoot commercials using union actors during the current strike against advertisers.
The campaign asked this week for non-union actors to perform in a commercial to be shot next week in New York, according to a casting notice from Breakdown Services. It seeks “real-looking people” rather than “commercial types.”
The casting notice comes seven weeks after the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists announced triumphantly that the media consulting firms for the presidential campaigns for Bush and Al Gore had signed interim agreements, allowing them to use union actors during the strike. The firm representing Bush, Stevens & Schriefer, and the Bush campaign did not respond to inquiries about the new ad.
The casting agency, Herman & Lipson, said it was seeking “everyday people on the street, strong emphasis on Hispanic and Caucasian. We should think these people have never been on camera.”
The notice asked for three specific groups: babies, aged 3 to 15 months, Caucasian and Hispanic only; kids, 6-12 years, all ethnicities; and older people, 55-80 years, all ethnicities.
Actors are being offered $1,000 for a day’s work plus a 10% agent payment for six months of usage, and an additional $500 plus the 10% for a second day if needed.
SAG spokesman Greg Krizman said the payment is well below what the average union actor would receive. “It’s pretty lousy for a day’s work,” he added.
The strike, now in its 60th day, revolves around advertisers’ demand that network TV residuals be eliminated in favor of upfront buyouts. Actors are demanding retention of network residuals and creation of cable residuals along with jurisdiction over the Internet and establishment of a monitoring system.
Union supporters demonstrated Wednesday in Los Angeles at a pair of AT&T retail stores and an entrance to Universal Studios, where several non-union spots were being shot. In New York, protesters hit the headquarters of the Assn. of National Advertisers along with casting directors’ offices. In Chicago, pickets demonstrated for a third straight day at AT&T regional headquarters.
Also in Chicago, five aldermen presented a resolution in support of the unions “in seeking an equitable pay structure for actors on radio and TV commercials.”
“We encourage the leaders of the advertising industry to resume negotiations with SAG/AFTRA representatives at the earliest possible date to bring a fair conclusion to this labor dispute,” the resolution also said. Edward M. Burke, Ray Frias, Jesse D. Granato, Burton F. Natarus and Bernard L. Stone sponsored the resolution.
The unions and reps for the ad industry last met on April 14. Federal mediators were unable to restart talks two weeks ago after spending nine hours talking with negotiators for both sides.