Board member apologizes for singling out actors

Screen Actors Guild board member Frances Fisher has disavowed a suggested boycott of eight actors who are up for SAG awards.

Fisher apologized Friday for forwarding earlier this month a pair of anonymous emails proposing that SAG members withhold their award votes from the eight thesps because of their public stance against SAG’s strike authorization vote.

“My intention in forwarding the anonymous emails regarding the SAG Awards was to alert my private email list of opinions and feelings that were circulating,” she said in a statement. “Artistic merit should be the only criteria for award selection.”

The anonymous email singled out Josh Brolin (who was nominated for “Milk”), Kevin Spacey (“Recount”), Susan Sarandon (“Bernard and Doris”), Michael C. Hall (“Dexter”), Sally Field (“Brothers and Sisters”), Alec Baldwin (“30 Rock”), Steve Carell (“The Office”) and Tony Shalhoub (“Monk”).

“I apologize directly to Josh Brolin, Kevin Spacey, Susan Sarandon, Michael C. Hall, Sally Field, Alec Baldwin, Steve Carell and Tony Shalhoub for any discomfort my actions may have caused,” Fisher said. “My desire is to serve my guild in the most professional and upstanding manner that the membership and creative community deserves.”

Fisher’s forwarding of the emails had prompted former SAG president Richard Masur to compare the action to the blacklist of the 1950s. SAG president Alan Rosenberg also said voting for the awards should be purely on artistic merit but added that he understood the “anger and frustration” that had prompted the boycott suggestion.

The SAG Awards will be held on Jan. 25 at the Shrine in Los Angeles.

More than 2,000 SAG members — including George Clooney and Tom Hanks — have declared that they oppose the authorization due to the nation’s current financial crisis. More than 4,000 members have supported the authorization vote, which has been put on hold so SAG leaders can explore making a run at a last-ditch round of negotiations with the congloms.

Prospects for the latest strategy appear murky at best since opponents within SAG have not backed off on their goal of replacing Allen and the negotiating committee. New York SAG president Sam Freed noted that the new strategy calls for the final offer from the companies to go out with no recommendation from SAG.

“It is irresponsible and cynical at best to suggest that the guild could send out a contract referendum to the members with a neutral recommendation,” said New York SAG president Sam Freed. “The guild, under the direction of Doug Allen, has spent the last eight months and hundreds of thousands of dollars of members’ money criticizing the contract in an effort to manipulate the membership.”

Allen has proposed that the strike authorization be put on hold and the congloms’ final offer be sent to the membership for a ratification vote after SAG meets with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Televison Producers to determine if it’s willing to improve its last offer to maximize the chances for ratification.

Rosenberg asserted that the AMPTP will improve the offer — even though SAG has already announced that it’s going to be sent out without a recommendation, which would appear to give companies no incentive to sweeten the terms.

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