Charity cancels Susan Sarandon-led fundraiser. After dozen of complaints, a Florida United Way chapter scraps a benefit at which the actress-activist was to be the keynote speaker

By Gary Susman
Updated May 01, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT
Susan Sarandon: Robert Galbraith/Reuters/NewsCom

Maybe the event planners were worried that Susan Sarandon would do something embarrassing like she did at the Oscars, like flashing the peace sign. According to the Associated Press, the Tampa chapter of the United Way has canceled a fundraising luncheon, at which the actress was to be the keynote speaker, because it received three dozen complaints about her antiwar views.

Sarandon had been enlisted to speak at the April 11 event six months ago by her brother, Terry Tomalin, a journalist at the local paper, the St. Petersburg Times. Sarandon was going to speak about women to in leadership roles and volunteerism at the $75-a-plate luncheon, with proceeds going to the United Way. But the charity’s chairwoman of the board, Robin Carson, tells AP that the United Way of Tampa has received letters, emails, and phone complaints in the two weeks since invitations went out that indicated her presence would be ”divisive.” She says, ”The focus of our whole meeting had shifted to whether or not we were creating a political platform for Susan Sarandon. That is not our purpose.” Sarandon, on a post-Oscars vacation in Mexico, hasn’t commented on the cancellation.