One of the industry's biggest movie stars Thursday called on leaders of both actors unions to end a fierce and increasingly ugly feud that has put Hollywood on edge.
George Clooney stopped short of denouncing leaders of the Screen Actors Guild, but he did indirectly question a campaign the union was waging to defeat an agreement negotiated by the smaller actors union, the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists.
"Rather than pitting artists against artists, maybe we could find a way to get what both unions are looking for," Clooney said in a statement. "The one thing you can be sure of is that stories about Jack Nicholson versus Tom Hanks only strengthen the negotiating power of" the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers.
Hanks is among more than 600 actors who signed a letter backing the contract recently negotiated by AFTRA, while Nicholson this week joined more than 60 actors to declare support for SAG leaders.
Although AFTRA's deal includes pay increases for actors, SAG officials have argued that it didn't meet some of their bargaining goals and are pressing 44,000 members it shares with the smaller union to vote down the tentative contract by July 8.
But, in his statement, Clooney suggested it was unrealistic for SAG to seek to "break a model" already negotiated by directors and writers.
The director and star of the football comedy "Leatherheads" also took to task SAG Executive Director Doug Allen, a former assistant executive director of the NFL Players Assn., for applying football analogies to Hollywood.
"Doug Allen has said on several occasions that this would be a negotiation for the linemen, not the quarterbacks," he said. "Unlike the NFL, in this guild the quarterbacks protect the linemen."
Pamm Fair, SAG's deputy national executive director, said the union "appreciates George Clooney's observations and opinions regarding our current negotiations and the critical issues facing all actors today."
The Oscar-winning star of "Syriana" and "Michael Clayton" has had a testy relationship with Allen and SAG President Alan Rosenberg. This year, Clooney along with some other high-profile actors openly called on union leaders to begin immediate negotiations with studios.
Still, Clooney said Thursday that SAG shouldn't just "roll over and give the producers what they want" and offered two ways that high-profile actors could help their union.
He suggested that a group of stars, including himself, Nicholson and Hanks, annually review growth in online entertainment to ensure that actors get their fair share of revenue.
To help raise money for the union's healthcare and pension funds, Clooney also advocated that the guild raise dues for actors who make "an exorbitant amount of money." Dues are currently capped at $6,000. Instead, he said, actors should pay $6,000 for each $1 million they earn.
"The quarterbacks," he said, "have to do more."