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SAG plans gold bows for Emmys

Ceremony comes three days before unions, advertisers resume talks

Striking actors unions have asked Emmy nominees to wear gold ribbons as a show of solidarity during the Sept. 10 broadcast of the Primetime Emmy Awards.

Leaders of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists have sent letters and ribbons to the nominees with the strike about to enter its fifth month. Union activists began wearing gold ribbons, based on the blue and gold colors of SAG’s insignia, and asked supporters to display them for the duration of the work stoppage.

“We’re asking the nominees to wear the ribbons during the events leading up to the ceremony because they’ll be appearing in dozens of interviews during that period,” said SAG spokesman Greg Krizman.

The kudos ceremony in Pasadena, to be telecast on ABC, comes three days before the unions resume negotiations with advertisers in New York. SAG and AFTRA leaders had wanted to begin bargaining this week, but reps for the ad industry said they were unable to meet until mid-September.

“Obviously, with the Emmys only three days before negotiations, it makes sense for us to get as much exposure as possible,” Krizman said.

The strike already provoked controversy at one awards ceremony when actress Allison Janney of “The West Wing” made a statement of support for the unions during her acceptance of a Family Program Award earlier this month from the Assn. of National Advertisers. After her remarks were edited from the telecast, exec producer John Wells returned the award, saying the cast was not interested in accepting an honor from an organization supporting censorship (Daily Variety, Aug. 16).

No Emmy disruption

Union leaders stress they do not plan to disrupt the Emmys in any way. AFTRA spokeswoman Pamm Fair said the unions hope most of those attending the ceremonies will be wearing gold ribbons.

Fair also said there are no plans now to persuade members to mention support for the strike during acceptances. “But I certainly would not put it past any of our members to mention the strike,” she added.

Meryl Marshall, chief of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, said there is no ban on political statements during acceptance speeches but added that nominees are asked to focus on the ceremony.

“The evening is about celebrating excellence in television, so there are always a lot of thanks yous and not a lot of time,” Marshall added.

GM remains target

Meanwhile, union activists protested Monday outside Universal Studios in Hollywood over non-union shoots by AT&T, Charles Schwab, Taco Bell and Visa. They also picketed at the General Motors assembly plant in Hamtramck, Mich., as part of SAG/AFTRA’s ongoing effort against the automaker.

GM has been singled out for shooting non-union ads including a Tiger Woods spot for Buick. Union leaders also believe their bargaining position will be improved through inflicting economic damage by preventing deliveries to GM plants.

The unions plan to start picketing today at the GM plant in Janesville, Wis., where the Yukon sport utility vehicle is built, through the end of the week. Eileen Willenborg, head of SAG’s Chicago office, said the goal will be to disrupt production by persuading union truckers to honor the picket line.

“Janesville is a just-in-time facility, which means they build the vehicles as parts arrive, so we plan to make it very difficult for GM to do business as usual,” she added.

GM reps have insisted that the picketing, which began two weeks ago in Michigan, has had no impact on operations.

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