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SAG presidential race heating up

Cassel gains momentum with endorsements

Seymour Cassel’s campaign to replace SAG president Alan Rosenberg is heating up.

Cassel — one of three challengers for the top slot — announced Monday he’s received endorsements from William Baldwin, Jacqueline Bisset, Steve Buscemi, James Caan, Nicolas Cage, Patrick Dempsey, Ethan Hawke, Dennis Hopper, Michael Imperioli, Michael Madsen, Stefanie Powers, Gena Rowlands, Rob Schneider, Treat Williams, Luke Wilson and Owen Wilson.

Move by Cassel, a six-year member of the SAG board, represents the first sign of an active effort against Rosenberg. Cassel told Daily Variety the endorsements are a critical part of giving SAG as much leverage as possible at upcoming contract negotiations, particularly in light of the recent proposal by the companies that WGA residuals be revamped to a system under which payments would be made only after basic costs are recouped.

“The next negotiations will be the toughest in the history of guild,” said Cassel. “We can’t face producers unarmed as we have in the past. A president only has power if he has powerful supporters.”

SAG’s film-TV contract expires June 30.

Cassel is critical of Rosenberg for not taking more assertive stances in basic cable negotiations and against AFTRA’s efforts to sign TV shows in areas of shared jurisdiction.

Cassel has starred in more than 140 films, dating back to 1960’s “Man on a String.”

“I’ve worked with damn near everyone,” he said.

Both Cassel and Rosenberg have been elected as part of the Hollywood-based Membership First faction, which espouses a generally more confrontational role at negotiations. The group recently opted to endorse Rosenberg for the presidency.

Disabled activist Charley De La Pena and background actor Barry Simmonds are also running for president.

SAG is mailing out ballots today, and they’ll be tabulated Sept. 20.

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