Peterson spurs brouhaha over child actors

Amico: Fair punishment, education given to future members

SAG’s internal battles sometimes resemble a fight on the schoolyard playground, but now child actors have emerged as a battleground in the current election.

The brouhaha emerged as a result of former child actor Paul Peterson, a Hollywood board candidate, blasting former SAG president William Daniels and his allies for the six-month commercials strike in 2000.

“Commercials have always been the door through which children entered the Industry, and when your career as a kid can be measured in months, that six-month job action was really costly,” he said in a posting on his Web site. Peterson, who is running on Gilbert’s Restore Respect slate, contends children were unfairly punished by SAG’s membership application review committee after the strike.

“These hearings were ugly, and I made it my business to show up at as many as possible to remind the MARC folks that children are not free agents, and that punishing children for a failed Commercials Strike was the height of hypocrisy,” he said. “Children do not have the power to disobey, yet the old leadership of the Guild tried to punish them anyway. It’s one thing to punish Tiger Woods . . . but kids???”

Peterson’s comments rubbed several MARC committee members the wrong way, who contend he has mischaracterized how children were treated. “This is a brazen lie,” declared committee vice chair DeWayne Williams. “We were very lenient.”

Candidate Robert Amico said the sanctions — which can include a ban of up to five years — were appropriate. “We not only gave fair punishment but we educated future SAG members as to what they have done wrong. The statements made on the Web site in the name of soliciting children’s votes is disgusting to say the least.”

Amico and Williams are both candidates along with Daniels on the Leadership Coalition slate. The election results will be announced Sept. 23.

SAG spokeswoman Ilyanne Kichaven said child actors were involved in less than 5% of the 281 cases that went before the membership application review committees. The most severe punshment was an 18-month ban for a child thesp who had performed in five non-union spots during the strike after having been provided info about the work stoppage.

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