The star of The Nanny TV show and president of Hollywood’s largest union, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), Fran Drescher called on Hollywood to end its vaccine mandate during her opening remarks at the 2023 SAG Awards on Feb. 26.
“As the nation declares an end to the COVID emergency this May, I hope we will see everyone return to work in equal opportunity,” she said, referring to May 11 when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) COVID-19 public health emergency is set to expire, Deadline reported.
Other than registering her opposition to the vaccine mandate, Drescher expressed her pride about some of the initiatives that the union has promoted, including the “Green Council,” which she described as “the biggest joint effort of Stars and Studios to save the planet since WWII” and “Actors & Athletes for Democracy,” which she said SAG-AFTRA “forged” along with the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA).
“We are the greatest influencers on the planet and must promote freedom for all,” she said, according to Deadline.
The 65-year old actress also thanked IMDb—the database that catalogs information related to films, TV, and other streaming content—for “taking a stand AGAINST ageism, stereotyping and gender rigidity.”
Drescher encouraged those in the audience to use their positions of fame and power to influence change.
“Our industry brings billions of production dollars to states across the nation, but if they want our business, let’s wield our financial influence to make governors act in the best interest of freedom, diversity, inclusion, and democracy,” she said, according to Deadline.
“As my character Bobbi Flekman said in This is Spinal Tap,” Drescher continued, “‘Money talks & bullsh*t walks!'”
Drescher has been an outspoken critic of the entertainment industry’s vaccine mandates for some time.
In September 2022, she called a “special meeting” of SAG-AFTRA’s national board to discuss lifting the vaccine mandate and other pandemic-related measures, such as social distancing rules, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Four hours of contentious debate left the 80-member board undecided “without taking any action to modify the existing policy” as outlined in the film and TV industry’s 2021 “return to work agreement,” according to the news outlet.
Then in November 2022, Drescher posted an impassioned 98-second rant on Twitter, applauding Disney’s recent decision to “not vaccine mandate their sets any longer” and describing the draconian world-wide measures to require “every human on the planet to take one vaccine” as “ludicrous.”
Though vaccinated herself, the actress called the mandates “an infringement on the disabilities act, the freedom of religion act, and body sovereignty” and warned her followers “to be very careful that fear does not turn into fascism.”
Drescher’s call for ending the vaccine mandate at the SAG Awards comes a day after Woody Harrelson’s opening monologue on Saturday Night Live (SNL), where he compared Big Pharma to drug cartels.
Harrelson told the SNL audience about a time shortly after Thanksgiving in 2019 when he sat down to read “the craziest script.”
First laying out a disclaimer that he’s “a lot of different things—anarchist, Marxist, ethical hedonist, nondiscriminatory empath, epistemological deconstructionist Texan,” lest he be mischaracterized as a right-wing MAGA supporter, Harrelson described the fictionalized script’s plot.
“So, the movie goes like this—the biggest drug cartels in the world get together and buy up all the media and all the politicians and force all the people in the world to stay stuck in their homes, and the people can only go out if they take the cartels’ drugs and keep taking them over and over,” he said.
The audience went silent.
“I threw the script away! I mean, who’s going to believe that crazy idea?” Then, in an apparent effort to break the awkwardness and bring levity, he went on, “Being forced to do drugs? I do that voluntarily all day long!” to a smattering of tense chuckles.
According to the Decider, Hollywood’s COVID-19 protocols finally loosened in January 2023, when the industry decided to allow productions filmed in “areas with low COVID-19 hospital admissions” to “end pre-employment testing for employees working closely with principal actors” and to no longer require “COVID-19 compliance supervisors on set.”
On April 1, this new agreement will no longer be in effect, the Decider reported.
However, according to the Epoch Times, three weeks ago, SAG-AFTRA, along with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, “decided not to end but extend COVID vaccine mandates and other protocols for members” after that April 1date.
SAG-AFTRA members from across the country staged a protest outside the SAG Awards Show in Los Angeles to express their opposition to the vaccine mandate and show their solidarity with the Hollywood celebrities who have already “had the guts to risk their careers to speak out for those who are being discriminated against,” prnewswire.com reported.