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"Little House"'s Gilbert Slams "Rhoda"'s Harper

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Aug 13, 2001 | 9:59am EDT

In the battle of 1970s TV stars vying for the SAG presidency, Melissa Gilbert (Little House on the Prairie) has fired the first shots against Valerie Harper (Rhoda).

Coming out with pitchforks in each hand, Melissa "Laura Ingalls" Gilbert said, "Now is when members most need their union to be out there fighting for them. But SAG is failing them. Too weakened by mismanagement, too preoccupied with internal power struggles, the leadership is neglecting issues that have a profound effect on the well-being of members," in her platform statement, Variety reports.

Valerie "Rhoda Morgenstern Gerard" Harper has received the endorsement of current SAG president William Daniels, and she would likely maintain the SAG policies in place. Harper has yet to release a platform statement, but given her titular character's persona in Rhoda, it's not likely she'll mince words in response to Gilbert's attack.

Gilbert has already bested Harper professionally. Both actresses starred in hit TV shows that debuted in 1974. But while Rhoda's stay on TV lasted a mere five years, Little House was beamed into American homes through 1983.

Gilbert repeatedly speared the current policies--and thus, by association, Harper--in her platform, saying that SAG should have entered into negotiations earlier with producers to avoid the current work slowdown, and that SAG should focus on three key issues: runaway productions to foreign locales, residual payments and respect.

Board members Eugene Boggs and Angel Tompkins are also running for SAG's top spot.

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