Actors Guild warns against blacklisting

LOS ANGELES (AP) – The entertainment industry must not blacklist people who speak out against war with Iraq, the Screen Actors Guild said last week.

“Some have recently suggested that well-known individuals who express ‘unacceptable’ views should be punished by losing their right to work,” the union said in a statement posted Monday on its web site.

“Even a hint of the blacklist must never again be tolerated in this nation,” the statement added.

The reference was to the Hollywood blacklist of the 1950s, when actors and writers suspected of harboring pro-Communist sentiments were barred from working.

“During this shameful period, our own industry prostrated itself before smear campaigns and witch hunters rather than standing on the principles articulated in the nation’s fundamental documents,” the statement said.

Martin Sheen recently said top executives at NBC had “let it be known they’re very uncomfortable” with his outspoken opposition to war with Iraq.

Sheen, who plays the president on the “The West Wing,” said the network fears his position will hurt the show. An NBC spokeswoman responded that network executives have expressed no such concerns.

In a lawsuit filed last month, actor Sean Penn accused producer Steve Bing of reneging on an agreement to pay him $10 million to star in a proposed movie called Why Men Shouldn’t Marry after Penn said he was against war with Iraq. Bing denied the allegation in a countersuit, saying Penn pulled out of the project.