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The BBC's Stephanie West
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Tuesday, 12 September, 2000, 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK
Spacey boosts strikers' fund
Kevin Spacey
High-profile backing: Kevin Spacey
Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey has donated $100,000 (70,000) to help support striking actors in the US.

American Beauty star Spacey gave the money to the relief fund for union actors involved in a 19-week dispute with advertisers over repeat fees for TV commercials.

The actors are all members of either the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) or the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) - which together represent 135,000 actors.

Stiking actors' rally
Stiking actors take to the streets in the deadlocked dispute
They have been on strike since 1 May and the walkout has now become the longest strike in Hollywood history.

Spacey's donation will be added to the $500,000 (354,000) already put down by SAG last month.

The money is going towards helping union members suffering financial problems as a result of the prolonged period without work.

In a statement explaining his support, Spacey said: "Let us not forget that 80% of Screen Guild members earn less than $5,000 per year.

"If the public were not informed of this, it would be easy to assume that all actors make a decent living."

Spacey's contribution comes two days before negotiators for the actors and the advertising industry resume talks stalled since mid-April.

Celebrity support

At the centre of the row are "pay-for-play" residuals - money paid to actors which depends on how often their commercials are broadcast.

The striking unions want this system extended to cable TV ads, which currently pay actors a flat rate.

Actors also want jurisdiction over commercials shot for the internet.

Michael J Fox
Michael J Fox - with his wife Tracy - showed his support at the Emmys

But the advertising industry wants to abolish pay-for-play altogether in favour of a flat fee structure for all commercials.

As a double Oscar-winner, Spacey's support carries considerable clout.

He won this year's best actor Oscar for his role in American Beauty. Before that, he won best supporting for his role in the Usual Suspects.

Spacey is not alone in adding his high-profile backing to the strikers' cause.

Those who have already put themselves forward - joining demonstrations and rallies mainly in Los Angeles - include Richard Dreyfuss, Tom Selleck, Elliott Gould and Harry Hamlin.

At the televised Emmy Awards on Sunday, several stars including Michael J Fox and Jack Lemmon wore small gold ribbons to show their support.

However, British actress Liz Hurley and sports stars Tiger Woods, Shaquille O'Neal and Michael Johnson have broken the strike by filming commercials in the US.

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See also:

03 Aug 00 | Entertainment
US actors begin hunger strike
22 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Sports stars break Hollywood strike
01 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Tiger faces strike hearing
14 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Stars support actors' dispute
27 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Spacey backs British theatre
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