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Guild: Actor jobs drop 9.3 percent in a year

By Lynn Elber, The Associated Press
Thursday July 04, 2002

LOS ANGELES — The number of movie and television roles for Screen Actors Guild members dropped 9.3 percent last year, with supporting actors among the hardest hit, the guild said. 

So-called runaway production, in which projects are filmed outside the United States, was one reason for the decline, SAG said. 

Guild members tend to be used only in principal roles abroad, said spokeswoman Ilyanne Kichaven. SAG believes U.S.-based productions would be more likely to use union actors in supporting roles as well, she said Tuesday. 

The rise of reality TV programs and a drop in production that followed SAG and Writers Guild of America contract negotiations in 2001 also contributed to the decrease, Kichaven said. 

For 2001, according to the report released Monday, 48,167 roles were cast under guild contracts, compared to 53,134 in 2000. 

“It is disappointing to see the total number of roles for SAG members declining,” SAG President Melissa Gilbert said. “SAG is actively seeking remedies to bring more opportunities to our members.” 

Kichaven said SAG’s “Global Rule One” drive could have an impact on the plight of supporting actors. On May 1, the union increased enforcement of its requirement that members work under SAG contracts for foreign-filmed projects intended for U.S. distribution. 

The SAG report, released Monday, also showed a decline in guild roles for minority actors. In 2001, a total of 22.1 percent of all roles went to minority performers, compared to 22.9 percent in 2000. 

Black actors received 14.4 percent of the contract roles cast in 2001, a drop from 14.8 percent the year before. There was a slight year-to-year drop for Hispanic actors, to 4.8 percent from 4.9 percent, and for Asian and Pacific Islanders (to 2.5 percent from 2.6 percent). 

An upward bump was recorded for American Indian actors, from 0.2 percent in 2000 to 0.37 percent in 2001. Given the small numbers, American Indian casting in a single project such as the recent film “Windtalkers” could account for the change, Kichaven said. 

Men received 62 percent of the roles cast in 2001 — a finding similar to previous years — and men worked nearly twice as many days as women in TV and movies roles, SAG said. 

The information is based on all TV and movie productions reported to the guild through a casting data report. Guild contracts do not include daytime TV, game or reality shows.