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SAG President Won't Seek 2nd Term

July 13, 2001|JAMES BATES and CLAUDIA ELLER | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Screen Actors Guild President William Daniels confirmed Thursday that he won't seek a new two-year term and will instead endorse actress Valerie Harper for the job.

In an interview, Daniels, 74, said he chose to wait until now to make the decision public because he wanted SAG to conclude its negotiations on a new contract with Hollywood studios.

"This is not a career job for me," Daniels said. "When I took the job on, I said I'd give this two years of my life, which I did."

Harper could not be reached for comment, but Daniels confirmed she submitted her name this week to SAG's nominating committee. Best known for starring in the TV series "Rhoda," Harper is in New York rehearsing to take over for Linda Lavin in the Tony Award-nominated comedy "The Tale of the Allergist's Wife."

Daniels' choice to go public with his decision comes after actress Melissa Gilbert became the first high-profile member to announce her intention to seek the position. Others running include members Eugene Boggs and Angeltompkins. Ballots are expected to be mailed in October, with results announced in early November.

Daniels was drafted to run for the presidency two years ago by a group of dissidents at odds with then-President Richard Masur. During the campaign, Daniels pledged to take a tougher stance during negotiations.

Daniels led SAG on a controversial six-month strike last year against advertisers. During the strike, he frequently came under fire from critics inside and outside the union who believed a settlement could have been reached sooner. SAG statistics show that in the wake of the strike, earnings by actors from commercials have dropped by at least $100 million.

But Daniels insists the advertising contract won hard-fought gains in payments to actors, adding that the separate contract SAG members are expected to ratify with studios also will put significant money into the pockets of journeymen actors. SAG's Eastern directors voted unanimously late Thursday to approve the contract.

Daniels has had a long career as an actor, with key roles in such films as "The Graduate," "A Thousand Clowns" and "Reds." He won best actor Emmys for playing Dr. Mark Craig on "St. Elsewhere."

Daniels plans to move to Santa Barbara, where he and his wife, actress Bonnie Bartlett, have a home. He said he has no plans to retire.

"Actors never retire. Your phone just stops ringing," Daniels said.

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