SAG-AFTRA on Monday (14) issued a remarkable statement in which it took the Academy to task for what it called “intimidation” of members and ”graceless pressure tactics” to control the awards show talent pipeline.
At issue is the role widely recognisable actors play in presenting awards at various shows. The SAG-AFTRA statement claims its vast membership has been subjected to “extraordinary and unwarranted pressure” to present at the 91st annual Academy Awards on February 24.
The Academy is reported to be sourcing a range of telecast hosts – some reports said top brass were trying to assemble the Avengers cast for the job – after Kevin Hart walked away from the gig in light of a backlash over resurfaced homophobic remarks, and his initial reluctance to apologise for those remarks.
Now it appears SAG-AFTRA believes the Academy’s search for the right personnel is trampling on its members’ opportunities to present at other awards season shows, including the 25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards itself on January 27.
The statement continued: “SAG-AFTRA has fielded numerous requests to respond to assertions that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences exerts extraordinary and unwarranted pressure on talent to hold them from appearing at other award presentations,” the statement read.
“We have received multiple reports of these activities and have experienced firsthand the Academy’s graceless pressure tactics and attempts to control the awards show talent pipeline. Awards season is a very special time when actors and actresses are being appropriately celebrated and recognized for the outstanding quality of their work. We would expect the Academy to honor these goals.
“This self-serving intimidation of SAG-AFTRA members is meant to limit their opportunities to be seen and honor the work of their fellow artists throughout the season. Actors should be free to accept any offer to participate in industry celebrations.
“The apparent attempt by the Academy to keep our members from presenting on their own awards show is utterly outrageous and unacceptable. The SAG Awards supports their union’s operations and important charitable assistance programs that provide valuable support to performers.
“We call on the Academy to cease this inappropriate action.”
The Academy had not replied to Screen for a comment at time of writing.