Gilbert, Harper fight for SAG presidency

Screen Actors Guild president William Daniels will step down from his position at the end of his first and only term, Variety reports.

“I knew from the beginning that I would only be serving one term. I just never talked about it. I don’t have political ambitions, and this is not a career for me,” Daniels said.

Valerie Harper and Melissa Gilbert will run for the presidency.

Daniels said he purposely held off until after the SAG/ American Federation of Television & Radio Artists deal with the the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers was made to make his announcement, and never considered seeking a second term.

“It’s been quite a two years,” said the embattled union boss.

Daniels tenure as SAG head has been marked by an acrimonious six-month strike against advertisers; internal and external strife, with conflicts arising over agent operating procedures and SAG cost-cutting measures; the tense, lengthy negotiations with the AMPTP; and the surprise resignation of national executive director John Cooke this past week, after holding the position for just 10 days.

As Daniels announced his leaving, he joined former SAG president Charlton Heston and current SAG board member Dustin Hoffman in endorsing Harper as the next president of SAG. Harper was the star of the 1970s sitcom Rhoda.

Gilbert, formerly of The Little House on the Prairie, will oppose Harper in the quest for the presidency.

Harper is seen as a centrist in the mold of Daniels, and Gilbert is perceived to be more in ex-SAG president Richard Masur’s camp. Masur lost the presidency to Daniels while seeking a third consecutive term.

Angel Tompkins and Eugene Boggs also will run for the union’s top spot.

SAG ballots will be mailed on Oct. 12. They must be returned by Nov. 4, and the results for the presidency (and other posts) will be broadcast the next day.