Equity curtain falls on actor Randy Quaid

Thu Feb 7, 2008 2:01pm EST
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NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Randy Quaid has been banned for life by Actors' Equity Assn., the labor union representing American stage actors, and fined more than $81,000 for his alleged actions during the Seattle production of the musical "Lone Star Love," which was scheduled to come to Broadway until producers canceled it.

The story of the stage union's ban and fine was first reported Wednesday in the New York Post, which based its article in part on documents it had obtained. All 26 members of the cast brought charges against Quaid, the Post stated, maintaining that he "physically and verbally abused his fellow performers and that his oddball behavior forced the show to close."

In the country musical based on Shakespeare's "The Merry Wives of Windsor," Quaid played Falstaff, Shakespeare's famed lout of Bacchanalian appetites. In response to the charges, the actor said, "I am guilty of only one thing: giving a performance that elicited a response so deeply felt by the actors and producers with little experience of my creative process that they actually think I am Falstaff."

His lawyer, Mark Bock, said: "The Quaids have been told by one of the actors that this has all been driven by the producers who did not want to give Randy his contractual rights to creative approval ... or financial participation. ... The charges are completely false." According to Block, the actor left Equity before the production opened in Seattle, so his ban was moot. He said the actor participated in the hearing because he wanted due process.

The Post reported that the fine was $81,572, equal to two weeks' pay for the cast.

The matter was decided in Los Angeles by a five-member hearing committee, according to Equity spokeswoman Maria Somma, who would not comment on specifics of the case. "The actions of the hearing committee should remain confidential among all the participants," she said. "If an individual wishes to appeal, it will give the individual a fair environment" in which to do so.

"Lone Star Love" was running at 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle in September and was scheduled to begin previews December 3 at the Belasco Theatre on Broadway. But producers announced September 24 that they were canceling the Broadway run.

Producers said the Broadway transfer was canceled because the show was not ready. A review in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in mid-September gave it a decidedly mixed review, saying that pieces of it were "sharp" but "as a musical comedy, it is dull." This view was consistent with how it was received off-Broadway during the 2004-05 season, when it received mixed reviews with Jay O. Sanders as Falstaff.

Sometime after the cancellation, charges were filed by the cast members against Quaid. On January 25, Quaid's wife, Evi, appeared at Equity's offices in Los Angeles and demanded documents for the hearing. There was a physical altercation, which resulted in four Equity staffers getting temporary restraining orders against Evi Quaid, and Evi Quaid obtaining a restraining order against Equity, according to documents filed by the parties in California Superior Court.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter