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SAG Asks Producers To Disclose Kissing Plans

October 31, 1985

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The Screen Actors Guild, reflecting the fear that actors could get AIDS on movie sets, said Wednesday it has asked producers to disclose whether any scene includes open-mouth kissing.

A producers group official, however, said the request may be unworkable.

Notification of such kissing scenes must come before an actor signs for a role, the talent union said.

″Under this health crisis, some actors may feel open-mouth kissing is hazardous,″ said SAG third national vice president Dean Santoro. ″We are not saying it is. This is not a medical bulletin. It’s a labor matter.″

″We haven’t had any complaints from actors,″ said SAG spokesman Mark Locher. ″This is more of a preventative measure.″

The guild also warned that rejecting an actor because of homosexuality is a violation of its contract clause against discrimination. Guild officials were careful to stress they were not aware of any such discrimination.

The two points were covered in a letter sent Monday to a group representing approximately 7,000 producers and agents, which has signed a contract with the guild, Locher said.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers will respond officially to the letter in a few days, said Carol Akiyama, a senior vice president of the alliance.

However, Ms. Akiyama said that she does not believe the guidelines are workable and that they may unfairly stigmatize gay performers. She also noted that there are no examples of cases in which AIDS has been spread by saliva.

″We believe SAG has good-faith motives, but how do you know who has AIDS?″ she said.

Since it was disclosed in July that actor Rock Hudson was suffering from AIDS, questions have been raised about the safety of open-mouth kissing for movie and television scenes.

Hudson, who died of complications from AIDS on Oct. 2, had a kissing scene last year with Linda Evans on the ABC-TV series ″Dynasty.″ Miss Evans has steadfastly refused to comment on whether she was concerned or had medical tests because of her contact with Hudson.

Santoro said the guild’s board of directors decided that two existing clauses in the contract on discrimination and disclosure of nude scenes could be interpreted to cover the AIDS and homosexuality issue.

″We do not want to dictate or censor, but we don’t want our members who have fears, even if they are incorrect, to do something they don’t want to,″ Santor said. ″We are telling producers that ‘If you don’t give such notification before hiring, actors should then be able to say no without penalty.’ The performer has the right to say what is hazardous.″

Scientists have said that while the suspected AIDS virus has been found in saliva, they do not believe the disease can be transmitted by kissing. They say the concentration of the virus in saliva is too low.

However, they have warned that it is conceivable the disease might be spread by kissing if saliva containing the virus comes into contact with an open cut in the other person’s mouth.

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome cripples the body’s immune system, leaving the victim vulnerable to infections and other diseases, including cancers.

AIDS is most likely to strike homosexuals, abusers of injectable drugs and hemophiliacs. It apparently can be spread by sexual contact, contaminated needles and blood transfusions, but not by casual contact.

As of Oct. 21, 1985, AIDS had struck 14,288 people in the United States and claimed 7,255 lives since 1979. The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta began keeping track on June 1, 1981, and traced back to 1979.

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