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Just for Liz Taylor, striking writers halt picketing

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Elizabeth Taylor returned to the stage Saturday night, after persuading striking TV and film writers to briefly put down their picket signs.

The Writers Guild of America agreed not to picket the Paramount Pictures lot when actress and AIDS activist Taylor gave a benefit performance of A.R. Gurney’s play "Love Letters" with James Earl Jones.

The guild lowered the picket line because "this worthy event is happening solely through the efforts and underwriting of Dame Elizabeth Taylor, who is not only a longtime member of the Screen Actors Guild, but an outspoken supporter of the Writers Guild," Patric Verrone, president of the western chapter of the guild, said in a statement.

Taylor did not speak to reporters as she arrived in a wheelchair, wearing an orange gown and diamond earrings. She smiled for the cameras as her boyfriend, industrialist Jason Winters, wheeled her into the theater.

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Taylor, 75, said she would not cross picket lines Dec. 1, which was World AIDS Day. She said she asked the writers union for a "one night dispensation" so she and her guests could enter the studio with a clear conscience.

"The Writers Guild of America has shown great humanity, empathy and courage by allowing our little evening to move forward," Taylor said in a statement.

Writers have been on strike since Nov. 5.

More than 500 people, including California first lady Maria Shriver, paid $2,500 per ticket for the one-night performance. The goal was to raise $1 million for The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

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