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McCord’s hat in SAG’s ring

Morales to serve as running mate vs. Cromwell

SAG treasurer Kent McCord, one of the most vocal critics of SAG prexy Melissa Gilbert, has decided to challenge her for the presidency of the guild.

McCord made the disclosure Monday at a meeting of the SaveSAG organization that spearheaded opposition to the proposed SAG-AFTRA merger, which fell 2% short of the required 60% approval last week.

SAG national board member Esai Morales (“NYPD Blue”) has agreed to serve as McCord’s running mate for the newly created post of secretary-treasurer; he will face board member James Cromwell.

McCord, who has not yet submitted a petition to run, is expected to make a formal announcement of his candidacy today or Wednesday. With ballots going out Aug. 26 and results announced Sept. 23, the election will likely revisit many of the issues raised during the merger campaign.

McCord has been at odds with guild leaders for several months over SAG chief exec Bob Pisano’s decision to spend an estimated $1.75 million on the merger along with what he characterized as a lack of access to SAG financial info. “I thank God the members saw through the sales job to give away this union,” he said last week. “And I believe the members deserve a full accounting of every penny that’s been spent.”

McCord, 60, is best known for his starring role as Officer Jim Reed on the hit series “Adam-12” in the late 1960s and early ’70s. During the series run, he became active in SAG; he was named winner of the Ralph Morgan award for service to the guild in 1999.

McCord has been a key figure among SAG Hollywood leaders who have advocated a more activist role for the guild in recent years, with that faction achieving its peak of power during the 1999-2001 presidency of William Daniels and the six-month strike against the ad industry in 2000.

Gilbert and Cromwell, both avid merger supporters, were approved last week as candidates by SAG’s nominating committee. She has taken a far more moderate approach that avoids confrontation and stresses cooperation with other Hollywood orgs; her allies currently dominate the national board.

McCord played a major role in opposing last year’s proposed revamp of SAG’s master franchise agreement for talent agents on the grounds that the proposal easing ownership restrictions created potential conflicts of interest for agents. SAG members voted down the deal by a 55%-45% margin despite extensive campaigning by Gilbert and SAG staff.

Petitions to run for the board are due July 24.

McCord won a close victory for treasurer in the fall of 2001 as part of a slate for Valerie Harper, who lost to Gilbert, and Elliott Gould, who was elected secretary. That election was tossed out due to rule violations by SAG staff and Sequoia Voting Systems; Gilbert, Gould and McCord won the rerun voting in March 2002.

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