The entertainment industry must not blacklist people who speak out against war with Iraq, America’s Screen Actors Guild warned today.
Some people “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.
“Even a hint of the blacklist must never again be tolerated in this nation.”
The reference was to the 1950s Hollywood blacklist, when actors and writers suspected of harbouring 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 union’s statement said.
Martin Sheen recently said top executives at the NBC television network had “let it be known they are very uncomfortable” with his outspoken opposition to war with Iraq.
Sheen, who plays the president on The West Wing, said the network fears his position will hurt the show. An NBC spokeswoman said 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 £6m (€8m) 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 counter-suit, saying Penn pulled out of the project.