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Tuesday, 23 October, 2001, 10:41 GMT 11:41 UK
US actors back UK strike
Nicole Kidman with Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge
Ewan McGregor is among those to pledge support
The US actors' union has backed its UK counterpart over a planned strike by British actors that is due to start in December.

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) has urged its members not to sign up for UK films that could hamper British union Equity's chances of striking a new deal with producers.

Tom Conti: Has said current situation is
Tom Conti: Has said current situation is "theft"
UK actors have been told not to take any work on home-made feature films after 30 November because Equity says they are not getting a fair deal on bonus fees paid when films are shown on television, or sold on video or DVD.

SAG president William Daniels wrote to Equity's general secretary Ian McGarry and the SAG's 98,000 members pledging support.

SAG members almost went on strike over similar issues earlier this year - which would have crippled Hollywood film production - but a deal with producers was struck at the last minute.

If the UK strike does go ahead, it could affect production on high-profile films like the latest James Bond movie.

Most UK actors supported aUS strike against advertisers
"I'm certain every SAG member will support our effort to help the members of British Equity at this crucial time," Mr Daniels wrote in a letter to Mr McGarry.

The SAG wanted to repay Equity members for their support during last year's six-month strike against the advertising industry, SAG spokesman Greg Krizman said.

"There were a number of British actors who the advertising agencies went after to see if they could coerce them into doing commercials, and British Equity members were very good in turning that work down," Mr Krizman said.

A UK strike would affect more than 36,000 Equity members, with Julie Walters and Ewan McGregor among the high-profile names who have pledged support.

Star Wars and Trainspotting star McGregor has said he is "tired of making producers and distributors rich while I and my fellow actors are exploited".

Julie Walters
Oscar-winner Julie Walters is behind Equity
A host of other actors including Simon Callow, Ricky Tomlinson and Tom Conti are also behind the campaign.

Equity is pushing to renegotiate a contract with the Producers' Alliance for Cinema and Television (Pact) over rights for bonus payments.

Unlike their American counterparts, UK actors get nothing extra, above an initial flat fee, when their films are seen on TV or sold to fans.

Equity took the decision to strike in September - although negotiations will continue until the 30 November deadline.

Earlier this month, Equity said talks were making progress and that producers had agreed in principle to continuing payment, but that they were still "a long way" from an agreement.

If the strike did go ahead, it would bring the UK film industry to a standstill, the union added.

But the union is currently in separate negotiation with Warner Bros to ensure a strike does not affect the filming of a sequel to the first Harry Potter film.

See also:

18 Sep 01 | Film
UK actors opt for strike
18 Sep 01 | Film
Film industry's strike dread
05 Sep 01 | TV and Radio
Equity anger at Soapstars
29 Aug 01 | Film
Hollywood slump hits UK film
29 May 01 | Film
Equity threatens strike action
01 Jun 01 | Film
Equity pay talks begin
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