The Screen Actors Guild, citing its opposition to "blacklisting," has now joined Vanessa Redgrave's appeal against a federal judge's decision in the Boston Symphony Orchestra case.
The 48-year-old British actress, who had announced her decision to appeal in a press conference here the morning of the death of her father Sir Michael Redgrave six weeks ago, has already gained the support of other industry unions--Actors Equity and the American Guild of Musical Artists.
On Wednesday SAG's board of directors voted 45 to 28 to file briefs in her case.
Guild spokesman Leonard Chassman said the judge's ruling "implicitly provides a basis for blacklisting performers if their political beliefs are deemed controversial." Using Redgrave's language on the day she announced her appeal, Chassman asserted that the ruling "cannot be allowed to go unchallenged." The case "transcends Ms. Redgrave's situation and potentially threatens the First Amendment rights of all performers."
Redgrave had sued the Boston Symphony for violating her civil rights and breach of contract in canceling her appearance as a narrator in a 1982 series of Stravinsky's "Oedipus Rex." The orchestra claimed it canceled because of the threat of disruption over Redgrave's pro-Palestinian views.
Last November the actress, an ardent supporter of the Palestine Liberation Organization, won a jury award of $27,500 in lost fees and $100,000 in other damages. On Feb. 13, Judge Robert Keeton overturned the $100,000 award saying: "The law does not forbid an entity organized to promote a form of art--or those who function as its managerial agents--from taking account of recognized differences among its members and patrons regarding controversial political issues."
Keeton also declared the Boston Symphony could not be held liable for damages to Redgrave's career that might have occurred after the cancellation. Meanwhile, he ordered her to pay the orchestra's court costs. His $27,500 award was slightly less than she would have received for her performance.
Daniel Koorstein, Redgrave's attorney, said he was "delighted" with SAG's announcement. The formal appeal will be filed in the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal in Boston May 31, he added. Tuesday the Boston Symphony said it will counter-appeal. Redgrave has already said she will bring the case before the U.S. Supreme Court if she is unsuccessful in the appeals court.