A host of Hollywood stars gathered on both coasts to support striking members of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Arts. The strikers, actors who earn their daily bread by appearing in commercials, walked out last spring pending negotiation of new contract standards with the advertising industry.
Some celebrities — athletes Shaquille O'Neal and Tiger Woods and British actress Elizabeth Hurley — have already called the wrath of the strikers down upon themselves by shooting commercials in violation of the spirit of the strike. Not so Tom Hanks and Paul Newman: According to the Associated Press, the two joined a host of other stars in a show of support for their striking peers.
"Actors are the best bargain in the advertising business," Hanks told strikers in Los Angeles Wednesday. "We bring life to words on a printed page." Other celebs on hand at the L.A. rally included Frasier star David Hyde Pierce and actress Alfre Woodard.
In New York, Newman was joined by Richard Dreyfuss, Susan Sarandon (never one to miss an opportunity for a little celebrity activism), Kevin Bacon, Olympia Dukakis, and Almost Famous star Billy Crudup, among others. Actor Treat Williams fired up the N.Y. crowd by leading a chant of "Show the commercial; show me the money!"
The unions, which represent more than 130,000 actors between them, began their strike May 1. Union reps met with federal mediators Wednesday to attempt to resume talks, which stalled out in July.