Feds Study Actors' Guild Election

Thursday, February 7th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The U.S. Department of Labor has launched an investigation into the bungled national elections of the Screen Actors Guild, according to a published report Wednesday.

The federal probe could settle the voting dispute if the Department of Labor makes a judgment about the validity of a rerun election, The Hollywood Reporter reported Wednesday.

Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura Ingalls Wilder on ``Little House on the Prairie,'' narrowly defeated ``Rhoda'' star Valerie Harper for the guild's presidency in November.

But a guild committee led by ``Wonder Years'' star Fred Savage overturned the results last month and called for a new election because of printing errors on some ballots and an irregular deadline for New York voters.

The squabble has left the Hollywood union in disarray and fraught with internal bickering.

Officials with the labor department did not immediately return calls for comment.

Gilbert supporters requested the federal probe because they said the committee that overturned the first election was biased and did not have the right to make that ruling.

Meantime, Gilbert will remain SAG president through April, when results of the follow-up election are expected.

Ballots will be sent to the guild's nearly 98,500 members on Monday and are due back by March 8.