Cast grows as SAG-AFTRA vote nears

Baldwins, Banderas, Asner, Buscemi take sides

HOLLYWOOD — Both sides have been scrambling to attract high-profile endorsements for and against the SAG-AFTRA merger two weeks before ballots begin hitting member mailboxes.

Proponents of the proposed “consolidation and affiliation” have snagged recent endorsements from Alec and Billy Baldwin, Antonio Banderas, Tyne Daly, James Gandolfini, Melanie Griffith and Susan Sarandon. Daly had originally supported the anti-merger SaveSAG side but switched last week.

Asner, Buscemi against

New endorsements against the deal have come from Ed Asner, Steve Buscemi, Angie Dickinson, Dennis Hopper, Jack Klugman, Martin Landau and Donald Sutherland. Asner, who served two terms as SAG prexy from 1981-85, becomes the fifth former SAG president to oppose the merger along with William Daniels, Charlton Heston, Howard Keel and Kathleen Nolan.

Current SAG prexy Melissa Gilbert supports the deal along with former SAG presidents Patty Duke, Barry Gordon, Richard Masur and William Schallert.

Ballots out June 9

Campaigning is expected to intensify before 175,000 ballots go out on June 9. A telephone polling firm hired by SAG and AFTRA called hundreds of members last week to ask whether they support the deal.

The proposal would create an umbrella Alliance of Intl. Media Artists with affiliates for actors, broadcasters and recording artists. At least 60% of voters in both unions must approve.

Merger backers contend the unions need to combine to enhance their clout at the bargaining table against the mega-congloms, avoid jurisdictional disputes and operate more efficiently. Opponents have argued this combination won’t add to the power of actors but will instead create more bureaucracy and cause SAG to lose its autonomy.

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