HURLEY PLEADS IGNORANCE IN ESTEE LAUDER SHOOT
NEW YORK — Elizabeth Hurley has bitterly complained of being “victimized’ and “violated” by Estee Lauder’s advertising agency for letting her appear in a fragrance commercial without telling her that she was violating a strike by her union, the Screen Actors Guild.
The commercial, produced by Bates Advertising for Estee Lauder Cos., was shot in New York in June, with the strike in full progress. SAG and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists had declared the strike May 1.
SAG has referred Hurley’s case to one of its trial boards, which decide whether penalties are warranted for members crossing picket lines. Hurley, who after learning of the strike authorized a $25,000 check to be sent to SAG Strike Relief Fund, sent a letter to the union’s strike committee, and its content was released to the media Tuesday.
“I live in England, I am an English subject and I did not know about the strike,” Hurley said, noting that the labor dispute had not been in the news in the U.K. Hurley added that she only does commercials for Lauder, spends only one day a year at it, and the vast majority of that work is for the print medium. Moreover, she has no commercial agent to keep her informed.
“Clearly, Bates should have told me and I feel violated by them and I am furious that they did not have the decency to let me know of the strike after we have worked together for years,” Hurley charged.
Bates officials could not be reached late Tuesday.
The commercial is for Lauder’s new Intuition fragrance and is scheduled for broadcast outside the U.S. Hurley’s letter continued: “Lauder claims not to have known that there would be a problem since I am not a U.S. citizen and because the commercials would only be shown outside the U.S. Of course, had I known about the strike, I would have never appeared in the commercial. I did not deliberately cross the picket line.”
A SAG spokesman said, “The information given in Hurley’s letter is exactly the type of information our trial boards need to know when hearing cases involving the performance of struck work.” He added that the letter has been forwarded to the union’s legal department.
A spokeswoman for Estee Lauder said, “We’re glad to hear that progress is being made toward resolving this unfortunate situation.”