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Equity National Council Upholds Disputed 99-Seat Theater Plan

July 30, 1988|DON SHIRLEY

The national council of Actors' Equity, meeting in New York Thursday afternoon, voted unanimously to uphold the controversial Actors' 99-Seat Theater Plan and to dismiss charges brought against the authors of the plan by 11 dissident members of the union.

The plan will impose more stringent regulations on small theaters in Los Angeles County as of Oct. 3. The council's vote followed a half-hour presentation by three of the dissidents and another half-hour defense of the plan and the procedures by which it was adopted, by Joseph Ruskin, the union's Western Regional vice president. Other members of the union, representing both sides of the issue, participated in the meeting via a telephone hookup from Los Angeles.

The 11 dissidents had pledged to take their case to court if intra-union procedures failed to derail the plan. Following the council's decision, Tom Ormeny--one of the three dissidents who addressed the council meeting--said that his group's next move is "up to 11 people, plus our lawyers." He declined to speculate on what that next move might be.

"I'm sure we're not going to give up," he added. In addition to whatever action the 11 Equity members decide to take, Associated Theatres of Los Angeles, an organization of operators of smaller theaters who are opposed to the plan, is scheduled to meet Monday to discuss what steps it might take.

The atmosphere of the meeting was "very friendly," said Michael Wadler, another of the dissidents. "They seemed to respond to what we said. We were elated. So (learning of the council's decision) was like reading the reviews of your play the next day and finding out your baby is a monster."

Equity officials either declined comment or could not be reached after the meeting.

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