More celebs take stance on authorization vote

The Screen Actors Guild’s battle of endorsements has moved into high gear.

The no side in SAG’s strike authorization has gained more star power with Russell Crowe, Michael Chiklis, Hilary Duff, Alyssa Milano, Julianne Moore, Robert Redford and Seann William Scott coming out against the vote. As of Wednesday afternoon, some 830 members had endorsed the No SAG Strike petition, written two weeks ago by Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman.

“As hard as it may be to wait those three years under an imperfect agreement, we believe this is what we must do,” the letter said. “We think that a public statement should be made by SAG recognizing that although this is not a deal we want, it is simply not a time when our union wants to have any part in creating more economic hardship while so many people are already suffering.”

The online effort debuted Monday as more than 130 stars announced their opposition, including George Clooney, Matt Damon and Tom Hanks.

Ballots go out Jan. 2 to about 110,000 members, with results announced Jan. 23. For SAG to strike, 75% of those voting would have to affirm the authorization; the national board would then have final say over calling a work stoppage.

SAG’s pro-authorization effort, which launched online last week, drew 2,300 signers as of mid-afternoon Wednesday. Notable new names including Laura Dern, Mary Stuart Masterson and Matthew Modine, national board members Lainie Kazan and Nancy Sinatra, former board member Piper Laurie and New York alternate board member Eric Bogosian.

In a letter released Wednesday, Bogosian noted he wasn’t part of last week’s meeting by the New York board — which demanded that SAG president Alan Rosenberg call off the authorization vote, replace the negotiating committee and call an emergency board meeting.

“Is this the right time for a strike authorization?” Bogosian said. “Yes. It is our only move. The contract is terrible.”

Bogosian also blasted the no effort for siding with the congloms.

“If you are voting no for strike authorization because you think that our current board of directors are strike mongerers or hotheads, please think again because you are simply thinking what the AMPTP wants you to think,” he said. “We are asking for a straightforward negotiation on straightforward points. We must negotiate these now or suck lemons until we can.”

SAG also posted pro-authorization videos to its website Wednesday from Hal Holbrook, Martin Sheen and Alicia Witt.

“New media is not something we can negotiate 10 years from now or five years from now or three years from now,” Witt said. “It’s something we have to address immediately.”

SAG leaders held a third town hall meeting Wednesday night at the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel, two days after members blasted Rosenberg and national exec director Doug Allen at a New York confab, alleging they’ve bungled the negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers.

Rosenberg’s admitted that the opposition in New York will make it tough for the authorization to meet the 75% requirement. He’s also said that should the authorization fail, SAG would probably accept the AMPTP’s final offer, made June 30 as SAG’s contract expired.

Rosenberg originally scheduled an emergency board meeting for Friday — with the requirement that members attend in person in Los Angeles, prompting objections from New York members. Rosenberg called off that session and hasn’t rescheduled yet.

Rosenberg and Allen received a warm reception last week at the first town hall meeting in Hollywood. About 60% of SAG’s membership belongs to the Hollywood branch, and another 25% are members of the New York branch. The remaining 15% are repped through regional branches.

Several hundred SAG members attended the meeting but the Hollyood Ballroom — capacity 600 — was less half full when the sesh got underway.

Former guild prez Ed Asner said outside the meeting that actors need to vote up the authorization to give negotiators leverage. “It’s the only weapon we have,” he said. “We can’t be as subtle as the companies.”

He also said he couldn’t predict how long a strike would last. “That depends how greedy the companies want to be,” Asner said.

About a dozen location managers picketed outside the meeting with “no strike” signs.

Late arrivals pushed the attendance past 400, a SAG spokeswoman said, and SAG leaders received several standing ovations during the three-hour session. Among high-profiles, both Asner and Rob Schneider gave strong endorsements of the authorization vote and nearly of the speakers during the Q&A spoke in favor of a “yes” vote.

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