Hollywood royalty including George Clooney and Tom Hanks have urged members of the Screen Actors' Guild (SAG) to vote against a planned actor's strike.

The SAG wants its members to strike over what it sees as an unfair contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

Studios were alarmed by SAG's public support for the striking Writers' Guild of America (WGA) during their three-month industrial action but with the economic climate uncertain, many high-profile actors are resolutely against a strike.

In a letter sent on Monday to SAG members, more than 130 stars added their endorsement to voting no against a potential strike authorisation.

The list of signatories includes Clooney, hanks, Matt Damon, Alan Alda, Jason Alexander, Alec Baldwin, Steve Carell, Billy Crystal, Cameron Diaz, Sally Field, Morgan Freeman, Jeremy Irons, Helen Hunt, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, Kevin Spacey and Charlize Theron.

They said a strike would worsen the economic situation of many actors and stressed that uniting with the writers' and directors' guilds would allow for improved contracts in the future.

"We feel very strongly that SAG members should not vote to authorize a strike at this time," the letter said. "We don't think that an authorisation can be looked at as merely a bargaining tool. It must be looked at as what it is - an agreement to strike if negotiations fail."

It continued: "None of our friends in the other unions are truly happy with the deals they made in their negotiations," in reference to the deals made between the AMPTP and the writers' and directors' unions.

"Three years from now all the union contracts will be up again at roughly the same time. At that point if we plan and work together with our sister unions we will have incredible leverage."

Alan Rosenberg, SAG president, had said before the publication of the letter that the guild had a responsibility to its members.

"We're not sacrificing disproportionately while the corporations set themselves up with billions of dollars in new media," he added.

But 30 Rock Star Alec Baldwin was outspoken in his criticism of the negotiating committee's failure to secure an improved contract for its members.

"Nothing against them personally but they have failed as negotiators and they should step down," he was quoted by Variety as saying.

With last year's Golden Globes called off due to industrial action, event organisers will be anxious for a swift resolution to discussions between the SAG and studios.

16/12/2008 09:31:03