Hollywood Stars Named In Bitter Legal Battle For Overseas Film Payments

The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists commissioned the survey, released Friday. It found that more than half of the actors who identify as gay, bisexual and transgender think directors and producers are biased against them. More than one-third of the actors who don’t fall into those categories agreed with that perception. Only 16 percent of the gay, bisexual and transgender respondents, however, said they had experienced discrimination. Gay men reported the most, with about one-fifth saying they had been discriminated against. The online survey of nearly 5,700 SAG/AFTRA members also found that more than half of the gay, transgender and bisexual respondents had heard producers and directors make anti-gay comments while working on-set. The performers’ union, which is holding its annual convention in Los Angeles, said it pursued the first-of-its-kind research at the request of a committee that represents lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members and as a methodical way to explore an issue usually discussed through anecdotes. The study was conducted by the Williams Institute, a think tank based at UCLA that specializes in sexual orientation, gender identity and public policy. “The survey results show both progress and indications that more work will be necessary to make the workplace an equal and fully welcoming place for LGBT performers,” M. V. Lee Badgett, a University of Massachusetts, Amherst economics professor affiliated with the UCLA institute. “The good news is that almost no one thought that opportunities for LGBT actors were getting worse.” Of the 5,692 participants, 465 identified as gay men, 61 as lesbians, and seven as transgender. Another 301 men and women described themselves as bisexual. The survey also revealed that despite concerns about being typecast, two-thirds of the gay actors who had played gay characters felt that it had not harmed their careers or limited the roles they were offered. Nine percent of the gay men and lesbians said they had been turned down for roles during the past five years because of their sexual orientations.

More than two dozen people, including Julie Andrews, Colin Firth, Justin Timberlake and Natalie Portman, are included on a list of possible witnesses in the case brought against The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA.) The case is being pursued by Ed Asner, 83, a former union president in the 1980s. Asner has won more Emmys than any other male actor and became a household name in the 1970s playing Lou Grant in The Mary Tyler Moore Show. More recently, he voiced the lead character in Disneyas animated film Up. More than a dozen fellow plaintiffs, who together call themselves The United Screen Actors Committee, have joined the suit. They include Clancy Brown, who played the bullying prison guard Byron Hadley in The Shawshank Redemption, and others who have worked on TV series including The West Wing, The X-Files, Beverly Hills 90210, and Murder, She Wrote. The list of stars named as potential witnesses also includes Jamie Lee Curtis, Carol Burnett, Ozzy Osbourne and Harry Connick Jr, along with representatives of the estates of Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando and Heath Ledger. The union, which is adamant it has done nothing wrong, collects residual payments when films and television episodes starring its members are shown outside the United States. Payments are distributed on a quarterly basis to any performer who has accrued at least $10 in foreign payments. In lengthy legal submissions Asner and his fellow plaintiffs refer to an aextreme web these parties have woven to steal money that rightfully belongs to US performersa. They accuse SAG-AFTRA of asecretinga money in a trust, generating millions in interest, for more than a decade and claim that the amount has askyrocketeda to more than $130 million. The actors also say the unionas claim that it was hindered by an aantiquated computer systema were asuspect,a and that it has spent millions updating computers. Lawyers for the union say the case has ano merita and are seeking to have it dismissed at a hearing on Oct 7 in Los Angeles before Judge Manuel Real. The union says it is avery prouda of its programme to collect foreign residuals which has asingle-handedly delivered to our members more than $15 million from foreign collections that would otherwise have been lost forevera.