George Clooney has donated $25,000 to the show business charity the Actors Fund to provide emergency relief for workers facing financial hardship due to the strike by Hollywood screenwriters.
Clooney was quoted in Friday's edition of the entertainment trade paper Daily Variety that he planned to make periodic donations to the fund, and urged fellow stars to follow suit.
He said he chose the New York-based nonprofit agency, which assists workers in all walks of the entertainment industry, because relief is provided in the form of grants, not loans, and eligibility does not depend on union membership.
The Writers Guild of America went on strike against the major film and TV studios on November 5 after negotiations on a new contract for its 12,000 members reached an impasse in a dispute over higher fees the union is seeking from Internet revenues.
The strike immediately threw the television industry into disarray, idling hundreds of non-writing production employees along with striking WGA members as work on numerous shows ground to a halt.
While studios' film release schedule has been unaffected, Hollywood stars have had fewer venues to promote their latest movies with the shutdown of late-night talk shows.
To people like myself, the strike is a forced vacation, but ... there is the fear that a prolonged strike can destroy people who make a living in this industry, Clooney told Variety. My hope is that people who can afford it will take responsibility for this and help out.
The 125-year-old Actors Fund distributed $2 million in emergency assistance in 2006 and is likely to exceed that sum this year if the screenwriters work stoppage and a separate strike by Broadway stagehands drag on.
The last Hollywood strike, also staged by the WGA in 1988, lasted 22 weeks and cost the industry an estimated $500 million. Experts say a strike of that duration now would probably top $1 billion in economic losses.