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Thursday, 22 June, 2000, 12:55 GMT 13:55 UK
Sports stars break Hollywood strike
Michael Johnson
Johnson: Record-breaker - and strike-breaker, say the unions
Sporting heroes Shaquille O'Neal and Michael Johnson are angering Hollywood actors by filming commercials, in defiance of a seven-week-old strike.

Members of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) went on strike on 1 May over residual payments earned by performers for TV commercials.

Unions representing basketball, baseball and American football players are also honouring the strike, and golfer Tiger Woods declined to film a spot for Nike the day after the strike started.

Shaquille O'Neal
Shaquille O'Neal backed Disney for charity

But basketball star Shaquille O'Neal has made an advertisement for Disneyland, while athlete Johnson has continued to promote Nike on-screen.

Screen Actors Guild spokesman Greg Krizman said: "They're getting very bad advice from their management people."

But advertising executives are playing down the significance of the high-profile strike-breakers.

"Obviously, it's something people see as symbolically important," said Association of National Advertisers executive vice president Dan Jaffe.

"But far more important is the fact the advertising community has great solidarity."

'Easy decision'

Shaquille O'Neal's agent, Leonard Armato said the basketball hero filmed the Disney ad - with the slogan "I'm going to Disneyland!" - because the fee was going to his charity for disadvantaged children.

The shoot came after his team, the Los Angeles Lakers, won the National Basketball Association championship on Monday.

Michael Johnson's decision to make the Nike commercial was "a very easy one", according to his agent, Brad Hunt.

Michael Johnson
Johnson recorded the Nike ad as part of his build-up to the Sydney Olympics

"Michael has a contractual commitment to Nike and, this being an Olympic year, the opportunity to be effectively utilized by one of his primary sponsors in advertising is even more important," he said.

Johnson will defend his 200m and 400m gold medals at the Olympics in Sydney in September.

Last week, union members picketed filming of a Campbell's Soup commercial featuring American footballers Kurt Warner and Terrell Davis, including flying an aeroplane over Los Angeles' Memorial Coliseum calling Warner a "scab".

SAG and AFTRA want to extend "pay per play" residual payments for commercials from both the major networks to cable TV. Advertisers want to pay flat fees for both.

The strike is the first major Hollywood walkout in 12 years. Several attempts by federal mediators to start negotiations between the two sides have failed.

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See also:

14 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Stars support actors' dispute
03 May 00 | Entertainment
Tiger backs striking actors
02 May 00 | Entertainment
US actors strike over fees
19 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Hollywood actors vote for strike
27 Aug 99 | World Athletics
Johnson smashes 400m record
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Michael Johnson: Life in the fast lane
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