Guy Adams: Support for a strike is starting to sag

LA Notebook
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The Independent Online

To lose one awards season to industrial action was bizarre; but to lose a second would represent Bracknell-ish carelessness. It could be just about to happen, though, thanks to the real-life contradiction-in-terms that is Hollywood's trade union movement.

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG), which has for some time been involved in a contract dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), is about to ballot its 120,000 members on a strike that would once more bring the industry to a juddering halt. Voting papers should be mailed out in time to overshadow the coming month's Grammy, Golden Globe and Oscar nominations, and the fallout from the brouhaha could even affect the mutual backslapping of the Guild's own awards ceremony.

Everyone needs a strike right now like a hole in the head, of course. But the sabre-rattling between the SAG and the AMPTP long ago parted company with common sense and instead became an exercise in old-fashioned political power-broking.

Both sides are pursuing a dirty and expensive propaganda war. On Monday, the AMPTP took out a $100,000 full-page advert in the LA Times. Meanwhile, the SAG president Alan Rosenberg, pictured, (the Arthur Scargill of this dispute) saw lurid details of his divorce from the CSI star Marg Helgenberger leaked to the tabloids.

There's an illuminating back-story to the row, too. According to the New York Times columnist Sharon Waxman, the SAG recently wined and dined 20 of its most famous members – including Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Nick Nolte – at an Italian restaurant, "like a scene from the Godfather movies", to check they would support any forthcoming strike.

So if Oscar season is ruined for the second year running, don't blame Hollywood's many struggling actors. Instead, take your anger out on their star-worshipping trade union, which – like the industry it serves – seems to reckon that some people – the famous – are more equal than others.

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