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Sarandon Disturbed by Event Cancellation

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Sarandon Disturbed by Event Cancellation

St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP) -- Actress Susan Sarandon said she was disturbed by a charity's decision to cancel her appearance at a fund-raising event because of complaints about her anti-war views.

The United Way of Tampa Bay was to feature the 56-year-old actress as keynote speaker at an April 11 women's leadership event designed to inspire volunteerism in the community.

But organizers this week scrapped the $75-a-plate event after the charity got three dozen complaints about Sarandon's selection.

Robin Carson, chairwoman of the board of directors, said the event had the potential to become "divisive."

"The focus of our whole meeting had shifted to whether or not we were creating a political platform for Susan Sarandon," Carson said.

In a statement Friday, Sarandon said that "considering the depletion of federal funds for community programs and the faltering economy, it is disturbing to me that the United Way is letting partisanship determine its support base.

"Once again, the shortsightedness of the powerful will end up hurting those in need."

Others disagreed with the decision, too.

Marty Petty, executive vice president of Times Publishing Co., which publishes the St. Petersburg Times, resigned as a member of the United Way board of directors and chair of the 2003 campaign.

"This decision is grounded in my lifelong personal and professional belief that our civic life is made stronger by the expression of all views, including ones that are controversial," Petty wrote in a letter to Carson.

Sarandon's brother, Terry Tomalin, outdoors writer at the St. Petersburg Times, had asked Sarandon to participate six months ago.

Sarandon, who introduced the obituary segment of Sunday's Academy Awards show, flashed a peace symbol with her fingers while walking on stage at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Calif.

She won a best-actress Oscar for 1995's "Dead Man Walking."

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Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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