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Tiger Woods summoned by actors union

Golf champion Tiger Woods has been summoned to appear before a Screen Actors Guild trial board to explain why he shot a car commercial during the union's strike against the advertising industry, a SAG official said on Monday.

Woods, previously applauded by the SAG for refusing to film a Nike (NKE.N)ad the day after the strike started in May, angered the actors union by making a commercial for the Buick division of General Motors (GM.N)on July 26 in Canada.

SAG sent a notice on Friday to Woods' managers calling on him to appear before a SAG trial board on Aug. 18 to explain his actions regarding the Buick ad, which the union considers strike-breaking work, SAG spokeswoman Ilyanne Kichaven said.

The trial board, a panel made up of three members of SAG's board of directors, will weigh the circumstances to decide if Woods should be sanctioned for the commercial. Penalties in such cases can include a reprimand, fines, suspension or expulsion from the union, Kichaven said.

She said Woods, who like many athletes with endorsement contracts holds a SAG card, is the first high-profile member of the actors union to face possible disciplinary action for an alleged violation of the 13-week-old strike. But he is not the first to be accused of crossing the picket lines.

Actress-model Elizabeth Hurley shot a non-union commercial for Estee Lauder in early July but later apologized through her agent, saying she was unaware of the situation because she resides outside the United States.

Her case remains under consideration by the union, but no trial board date has been set, Kichaven said.

Celebrity solidarity for the actors strike has become a sore point with rank-and-file SAG members, who see the support of the stars as crucial to morale.

Woods' management company, IMG, had not received the SAG notice as of Monday, spokeswoman Linda Dozoretz said, adding that she did not know whether Woods would be able to attend the hearing. Kichaven said Woods might be permitted to take part in the proceedings by telephone.

Woods' representatives have sought to cast his Buick shoot as a contractual obligation he entered into long before the strike that had to be fulfilled immediately because of its ties to sponsorship of the upcoming Summer Olympics in Australia.

"It was an extremely tough situation, but I have relationships to uphold with my sponsors, who have supported me over the years," Woods said in a statement issued last week. "This is in no way a stance against the union."

However, the union was disappointed that Woods did not use his celebrity clout to persuade Buick to sign a union-approved "interim agreement," which allows guild members to perform under terms set by SAG.

Such pacts reportedly have been used for ads shot by game show host Regis Philbin, actor-director Spike Lee and former NFL quarterback John Elway.

SAG and the American Federation of Television & Radio Actors, which represent a total of 135,000 actors, launched their walkout against television and radio advertisers on May 1 in a dispute over residuals earned by performers in TV ads.

The unions want pay-for-play residuals, which pay actors in broadcast network ads according to how often their commercials air, expanded to cable TV ads. The industry wants to abolish pay-for-play in favor of a flat-rate structure for both broadcast and cable TV spots.



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