Strikers go beyond L.A. to picket ad shoots

Actors' road show

As commercial production in Los Angeles continues to dwindle, striking actors have started employing the strategy of tracking down shoots in far-flung locations like Bakersfield and Palm Springs.

“We’re trying to show advertisers that we are going to come after them even if they leave town,” said Screen Actors Guild strike captain Gordon Drake. “If it’s a major national advertiser, we are going to show up because that’s the most effective way for us to deploy our resources.”

About 50 members of SAG and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists caravaned approximately 100 miles north from Los Angeles to Bakersfield on Thursday to demonstrate at the site of a Mobil commercial on Truxton Road, where producers had built a faux gas station. “The crew was stunned when we showed up at the site,” Drake reported.

Unionists plan to demonstrate today and Saturday in the Palm Springs area, where Lincoln Mercury has scheduled a shoot. And they plan to continue protests today at the Los Angeles Coliseum, where pro football players Kurt Warner and Terrell Davis crossed picket lines this week for a Campbell’s Soup ad.

SAG and AFTRA hired a plane to circle the shoot Thursday with a banner reading “Kurt Warner and Campbell’s Soup — Mmmm Mmmm Scab.”

Against NFL wishes

Davis and Warner, who was the most valuable player in this year’s Super Bowl, performed the spot despite the National Football League Players Assn. asking members to honor the picket line. “We would hope all members would respect the spirit of unionism, but it’s something each player has to decide for himself,” said NFLPA spokesman Carl Francis.

SAG and AFTRA’s goal in staging demonstrations has been to force producers to spend more time and money on spots in order to create pressure on advertisers and agencies to back off from their demands for the elimination of residuals for network ads.

However, the ad industry continues to present a united front, insisting that it remains strongly committed to modernizing the contract. The Assn. of National Advertisers and American Assn. of Advertising Agencies took out an advertisement in Daily Variety portraying a conversation between a pair of fictional actors questioning the value of the strike, now in its 47th day.

SAG spokesman Greg Krizman called the ad “misleading” and asserted there have been only a few defections — mostly from athletes — among the union’s 98,000 members.

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