Seat shift could signal end to talent impasse

Allies of prexy Melissa Gilbert gained a commanding majority on the Screen Actors Guild national board, according to late election results Monday night.

Results, released at the Radisson Hotel in Los Angeles after a delay of nearly six hours, showed Gilbert’s supporters in the Restore Respect slate won 23 of the 31 Hollywood seats over her opponents in The Leadership Coalition, which won seven. Independent candidate Richard Dreyfuss, who has studiously avoided taking sides, won the remaining slot and came in fifth overall.

Restore Respect’s James Cromwell led all 109 candidates with 7,409 votes, followed by running mates Noah Wyle, Mike Farrell and Shelley Fabares. Former SAG prexy William Daniels — one of the most prominent Leadership Coalition candidates — could only win an alternate seat with 4,024 votes.

The shift in Hollywood seats could mean that SAG’s board will become more inclined to seek out a compromise to end its five-month impasse with talent agents. Gilbert’s allies on the board had supported a loosening of agency ownership restrictions last March by a 57-44 margin with virtually all of the “no” votes coming from Hollywood reps.

The new board’s first meeting is set for Oct. 12.

A significant amount of the campaigning in the election revolved around the presidency of Gilbert, who has stressed during the past year that SAG needs to build better relationships and avoid confrontation with the rest of Hollywood. During the campaign, the Leadership Coalition criticized Gilbert for stalling on the agent issue after members voted down a proposed revamp of the agency agreement five months ago; Gilbert’s camp repeatedly blasted Leadership Coalition candidates for their stances supporting the six-month commercials strike in 2000 and for opposing a possible merger with AFTRA.

Gilbert’s supporters, running under the United Screen Actors banner in New York, won all of the 15 Gotham seats over The Clean Slate and nearly all of the 13 regional branch seats. Sam Waterston led with 4,043 votes, followed Cliff Robertson and Tony Roberts; other USAN winners were Kathleen Chalfant, Paul Christie, Maureen Donnelly, Nancy Giles, Eileen Henry, Mike Hodge, Michelle Hurd, Sue-Anne Morrow, Sipp Sudduth, Cynthia Vance and Liz Zazzi.

Gerald Kline and San Freed tied for the 15th spot in New York with 2,967 votes.

Turnout in Los Angeles was in the usual range with 11,521 ballots returrned from a total of 51,282 mailed for a 22.5% participation rate. Gotham turnout was lsightly lower with 5,143 ballots returned if 23,240 for a 22.1% rate.

And thesps showed typical preference for celeb candidates from both camps. High-profile Restore Respect winners included Barbara Bosson, Gilbert’s husband Bruce Boxleitner, James Cromwell, Shelley Fabares, Morgan Fairchild, Mike Farrell, Mariette Hartley, Jane Kaczmarek, former SAG prexy William Schallert and Noah Wyle; other Restore Respect winners included Amy Aquino, Jack Coleman, Suzanne Cryer, Dana Daurey, Trista Delamere, Robert David Hall, Kevin Kilner, Robert Duncan McNeill, Peter Onorati, Paul Petersen, Mitchell Ryan, Marcia Strassman and Vivicca Whitsett.

Leadership Coalition winners were Tom Bosley, Seymour Cassel, Richard Crenna, Frances Fisher, Valerie Harper, Diane Ladd and Esai Morales.

Restore Respect candidates won took alternate slots included Chris Allport, Michael Harrah, Patrick Kerr, Jerry Sroka and Keri Tombazian; Leadership Coalition alternate winners included Daniels and wife Bonnie Bartlett, Karen Austin, Rebeccah Bush, Sumi Haru, Richard Herd, David Huddleston, Paul Napier, Alan Rosenberg, Julie Sanford, Yale Summers, Renee Taylor and Dewayne Williams. Dakin Matthews, Michael Monks and Fred Savage, who ran independents, also won alternate slots.

In New York, the alternates were Chip Bolcik, John Fleming, Jack Landron, Doug Lory, Jody Myers, Francisco Rivela, Marge Royce, K.J. Sanchez and Ron Wall.

The contest was the first SAG election since the raucous rerun contest last March and a landmark in that it cuts the national board from 107 seats to 63. All board seats were up for election except those of Gilbert, secretary Elliot Gould and treasurer Kent McCord.

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