SAG presidential candidate fires back at rival's criticism

In a mass mailing to SAG members late last week, Screen Actors Guild presidential candidate Valerie Harper took the most aggressive stance of her campaign to date and blasted back at rival Melissa Gilbert.

Move came on the heels of SAG’s distribution of 98,500 ballots, which are due back on Oct. 31. Gilbert has blistered Harper during the past three months, particularly over Harper’s decision to spurn Gilbert’s proposal for a debate in order for members to “gauge the candidates’ awareness of the issues and leadership qualities firsthand.”

Harper continued to insist that a public debate over SAG is “inappropriate.” “My opponent is asking you to vote for her solely because she’s upset that I wouldn’t allow a public forum that would embarrass the guild,” Harper wrote. “It wouldn’t happen if this were the plumbers union, it shouldn’t happen with ours. No matter who might ‘win’ such a debate, the reputation of Screen Actors Guild would lose.”

The message also recapped the differences between Harper and Gilbert on runaway production and agents’ proposal to loosen financial-interest rules.

In addition, Harper criticized Gilbert’s refusal to make public appearances in support of last year’s commercials strike by SAG, along with her admission that she had financed and starred in a non-union film in 1989.

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