A dominant actors body's decision to go for a ballot to decide on a possible strike over new benefits for its members is threatening to overshadow this year's Academy award ceremony.
The Screen Actors' Guild (SAG) on Wednesday night said it would be balloting its 100,000 members next month about a boycott or strike which would take effect just weeks before the 2009 Oscars awards on February 22.
Last year also, the mega award ceremony was hit by a strike by scriptwriters in the industry.
The SAG has said that it would mail the strike authorization ballot to the paid-up members on January 2, which will be tabulated on January 23.
If the 75 per cent members vote 'yes', the SAG's national board of directors would be authorised to call a strike, if and when the board determines it is necessary, a release by SAG said.
SAG is demanding higher payments for Internet productions and for increased benefits for actors when external events such as an earthquake or a strike by another union stops production.
"SAG members understand that their futures as professional actors are at stake and I believe that SAG members will evaluate the AMPTP's June 30 offer and vote to send us back to the table with the threat of a strike," Alan Rosenberg, the President of Screen Actors Guild National said.
"A yes vote sends a strong message that we are serious about fending off rollbacks and getting what is fair for actors in new media," he added.