HOLLYWOOD — Dude, you’re a strikebreaker.
Ben Curtis, best known as the 20ish “Steven” pitchman in Dell Computer ads, has received an undisclosed punishment from the Screen Actors Guild for booking non-union spots during the guild’s six-month strike against advertisers two years ago. The first Dell spot with Curtis aired in November 2000. Several of the ads included his signature line “Dude, you’re getting a Dell.”
A rep for Dell said Curtis was unavailable for comment, and SAG refused to respond to questions about the recent hearing by a New York SAG membership application review committee that found Curtis guilty. He was still listed last week with SAG’s Actors to Locate service. Curtis was originally asked to appear before a panel in Hollywood but the hearing was transferred to New York.
SAG revealed last year it had banned 75 thesps for periods ranging from six months to five years, with the Hollywood branch responsible for 39.
The hearings reviewed evidence gathered on over 1,500 non-members for working during the bitter strike. SAG’s national board first instituted a policy to bar strikebreakers from joining, then lessened that to a maximum five-year exclusion.
The most notable cases came in late 2000 when SAG announced trial boards had fined Elizabeth Hurley and Tiger Woods $100,000 each for performing in non-union spots during the strike. SAG also ID’d seven other members last year who had been expelled for strikebreaking and announced a five-year ban on membership for an actress who had tried to join the guild despite shooting more than 20 non-union spots during the strike.
The expulsion of three members last fall prompted George Clooney to question the even-handedness of the discipline. The strike became a major issue in last fall’s election campaign, with 1st VP Mike Farrell contending it was unnecessary while activists argued that advertisers’ hard-line stance left SAG with no other option.