World-class sprinters Michael Johnson and Marion Jones have become strike-breakers, shooting Nike ads recently in defiance of the Screen Actors Guild.
The pair, both favored to win gold medals at the upcoming Olympic Games in Australia, taped the spots within the last three weeks, according to Nike spokesman Scott Reames.
Johnson and Jones became the latest high-profile athletes to breaks with SAG since the strike began May 1, joining a quartet of pro football players — Terrell Davis, Eddie George, Keyshawn Johnson and Kurt Warner. All six could face expulsion and fines, as SAG leaders have launched a fast-track procedure to discipline strikebreakers (Daily Variety, June 19).
Rheames defended Nike’s use of Johnson and Jones in the ads. “These people are athletes,” Reames said. “We’re using them as athletes. We’re not taking a job away from an actor.”
SAG scored a major public relations victory a few days after the strike started when golfing superstar Tiger Woods declined to shoot a Nike commercial because of the work stoppage. Rheames said no Nike endorser has refused to shoot an ad because of the strike since then.
The dispute, entering its 51st day, centers on pay structures. Advertisers are de-manding a flat-rate system for network ads while SAG and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists have been striking for an improved pay structure for cable TV ads.
In other developments, the AFTRA/SAG credit union said Monday it is boycott-ing an upcoming car sales event because Enterprise Rental Cars refused to support the actors’ work stoppage.
The credit union has asked its 25,000 members not to participate in the Enterprise event this weekend at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Instead, members of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists may picket and hand out leaflets at the sale.
The credit union, which previously had helped promote the event along with other groups, made the decision after Enterprise’s car sales unit refused to promise to use union actors on future commercial shoots. SAG and AFTRA have allowed union actors to work under interim agreements.
An Enterprise spokeswoman said the car sales arm of the company has no plans to shoot ads in the future.
No end in sight
With the strike in its eighth week and no immediate hope of negotiations resuming, both sides have been active in trying to discredit each other. The advertisers accused the unions Monday of “misinformation” in their claim that 1,400 interim agreements have been signed.
“It appears that SAG is sending interim agreements to its own members to sign, including SAG franchised talent agents,” said chief ad negotiator John McGuinn. “However, we are unaware of any major advertiser or agency who has signed an interim agreement.”
SAG spokesman Greg Krizman responded by saying a significant number of ma-jor advertisers have signed such deals.
The unions have also formally complained to the board of the Entertainment Indus-try Development Corp. about production companies in Los Angeles County supplying false information in obtaining permits for off-lot shooting. Producers are believed to be deceiving union demonstrators through filing for multiple locations and other uses besides ad shots.
“There’s very little the EIDC can do since there’s no ordinance specifying a pen-alty,” said agency chief Cody Cluff of the complaint.
The unions will also hold a news conference today in Los Angeles outside the Ford Dealers Assn. of Southern California to protest the “painting down” of a Caucasian stunt driver to resemble an African American during a recent Lincoln/Mercury shoot near Palm Springs.