Several Hollywood stars, including Sean Penn, Holly Hunter and WILLEM DAFOE, have joined the opposition to a ban on sending special DVDs and videos to ACADEMY AWARD voters.

The WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA has also added its voice to the argument.

Their protest follows a letter sent last week (ends10OCT03) from 142 directors to Jack Valenti, president of the MOTION PICTURE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA (MPAA), urging the organisation to immediately repeal its anti-piracy plan.

The actors, writers and directors contend that asking OSCAR voters to see films only in theatres will put smaller, independent features at a disadvantage, and will do nothing to stop piracy.

An actors' protest, to be published in the coming days, will include the names of Hilary Swank, Don Cheadle, Sissy Spacek, Ellen Burstyn, Selma Blair, Chloe Sevigny, Frances McDormand, Nick Nolte and Steve Buscemi, among others.

Screen Actors Guild president Melissa Gilbert also disagrees with the ban on screeners, stating, "It creates a hugely inequitable and hugely unleveled playing field."

The MPAA reiterated on Monday (13OCT03) that it welcomed debate on the policy, but that the ban would remain.

Last week, directors including Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese, FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA and ROBERT REDFORD sent a protest letter to Valenti, which was published in Hollywood trade publication DAILY VARIETY.

14/10/2003 21:04