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Jon Voight Pens Letter Explaining SAG Awards Absence

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Jan 26, 2005 | 2:12pm EST

Jon Voight has explained to his fellow actors why he won't be attending next month's Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards in a full-page advertisement.

Voight was given the nod in the Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries category for his role in the TV movie The Five People You Meet in Heaven--but was also informed he won't be getting an invite to the Feb. 5 ceremony in Los Angeles, because he had previously resigned from the guild and is currently classified as a fee-paying non-member.

Resigning from the union is often referred to as seeking "financial core" status, which gives union members an opportunity to resign from full membership but continue to pay the portion of dues which go to contract-related jobs.

When members take such steps, they're no longer eligible to participate in a number of guild activities - including attending awards shows.

In a letter which appeared in trade publication Variety, Voight says he initially considered financial core status to work on a pal's financially-strapped movie, and went ahead with his plans after SAG used "scare tactics" to shut down his friend's film.

He writes, "The SAG board chose to bring me once again what they think is shame, and apparently to warn other actors off joining financial core, by announcing to the press that I was not invited to the ceremony to which my fellow actors nominated me for a union film. All this because of my willingness to uphold the right to our personal pursuit of freedom and liberty...

"My sorrow comes only for a union that can be a great force, that can accomplish much good, and protect, promote, and nourish the actor in his individual pursuits, but does not yet understand that there will be come that will be happy to follow the union in all its rules and regulations, but there many be some that will differ, and follow a destiny of their own choosing, and that is their right, and that is our country's Constitution. I congratulate all my fellow nominees, and wish everyone the best."

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