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The Day JFK Was Shot: 50 Years Later, Hollywood Remembers

(A version of this story first appeared Sunday.)

Today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It was a defining moment of the 20th century. That is even the case for someone like me, who was born after November 22, 1963, in the shadow of the president’s murder. Most of my generation can tell you where they were when they learned of the shooting of John Lennon and the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, but everyone of a certain age can tell you where they were that tragic day in Dallas. With the passing of the WWII generation and memories of Pearl Harbor, only 9/11 is as seared into our souls now as much as 11/22. In remembrance of the 35th president, I asked some of the industry’s most notable and insightful individuals — a few of whom had seen JFK just before his death — where they were when they heard the news of the shooting and what they experienced that day. Here’s what they told me:

Ron Meyer – Vice Chairman, NBCUniversal
I had just gotten out of the Marine Corps and I was living in LA. I was working at a men’s clothing store and we heard this news. You know, I was in the Marines during the Cuban missile crisis, during the blockade, so we really felt we knew him and that you had direct involvement with him because, at least during that time, everything that happened to him affected us. We could have gone to war if he’d ordered it. So when he was killed, you felt that someone who had been an integral part of your life, my life, was gone. I was young, 20 years old, but it was the most unexpected loss. You know, my family escaped from Nazi Germany – so to us, he represented the hope of the world. It was tragic.

Jeffrey Katzenberg – CEO, DreamWorks Animation 
I try to focus less on November 22nd and more on November 8th, the date in 1960 when Kennedy was elected president. I was only 9 at the time, but that election, with its down-to-the-wire finish, suddenly made me aware of the excitement and possibilities of politics. Three years later, Kennedy’s assassination was devastating beyond words. But, for me, it further heightened the impact of his 1,000 days. While I was still in middle school, I went to work for another dynamic young leader, New York Mayor John Lindsay. JFK’s example inspired me then, and it inspires me still.

Related: Dan Rather To Narrate ESPN Special Commemorating JFK

Bill O’Reilly – Host, The O’Reilly Factor; Author, Killing Kennedy
Back in November of 1963, I was a 14-year-old freshman at Chaminade High School in Mineola, New York. I was sitting in Brother Carmine Diodati’s religion class when the loud speaker crackled, and the school principal announced that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. He then put the CBS radio report on the loudspeakers all over the school. The students were stunned. Few of us said anything.

When I got home that afternoon, my mother was watching CBS on television. Her mother, my grandmother’s name was Winifred Kennedy. So the O’Reilly family had a direct emotional tie to the much more famous Kennedy clan. In the weeks that followed, life got back to normal for the teenagers on Long Island. But my friends and I will never forget the first time we heard of the treacherous assassination.

Related: ‘Killing Kennedy’ Draws Record Viewership For Nat Geo Read More »

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UPDATE: SAG-AFTRA Elects ‘90210’ Actress Gabrielle Carteris EVP

By | Thursday September 26, 2013 @ 12:35pm PDT

UPDATE, 12:35PM: Gabrielle Carteris has been elected SAG-AFTRA’s new Executive Vice President at the union’s convention today. The Beverly Hills, 90210 actress and former LA Local co-President beat NY Local president Mike Hodge and last-minute candidate Jane Austin for the powerful union position voted on by delegates. (UPDATE 4:13 - A total of 303 ballots were cast in the race say SAG-AFTRA. Carteris received 66.5% of the vote from the delegates while Hodge received 23.22% and Austin pulled 10.28%. In a separate vote, Hodge was elected to a National VP position along with 6 others) Recently elected National Secretary-Treasurer Amy Aquino was among those who spoke in favor of Carteris to the delegates. The result may not sit that well with union President Ken Howard, who threw his support very publicly behind Hodge. Carteris was endorsed by former SAG-AFTRA co-President Roberta Reardon. The convention continues until September 29 and will be followed by a two-day National Board meeting.

Read More »

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SAG-AFTRA Prez Ken Howard Endorses NY Local Exec For Union EVP Slot

By | Friday September 20, 2013 @ 7:59pm PDT

With just under a week to go before the election for the influential EVP position at SAG-AFTRA‘s first national convention since merging, National President Ken Howard today threw his weight behind NY local President Mike Hodge for the slot. Recently re-elected to his East Coast position, Hodge becomes the second formal candidate for the EVP job. Earlier this week, former AFTRA LA local President Gabrielle Carteris threw her hat in the ring. She is endorsed by former National Co-President Roberta Reardon, who narrowly lost her bid to be NY local president to incumbent Hodge in last month’s local elections. Prior that loss, Reardon was widely expected to run for the national EVP slot. Hodge had endorsed Howard for National President in last month’s SAG-AFTRA election, and Howard in turn backed Hodge and his slate in NY. “Mike Hodge is someone I’ve counted on for strong, steady leadership from the very start of my union service, and he has never failed to deliver,” Howard said in a statement. “I’m tremendously impressed with the way he’s handled things in New York, and it’s important that our national union have leadership that reflects our national footprint. Mike is an independent thinker who members can trust to put the interests of our union first.” The EVP election, voted on by the union’s recently elected delegates, … Read More »

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Aussie Stef Dawson Cast In ‘Mockingjay’ Pics, Ken Howard Joins Kevin Hart Comedy

By | Monday August 26, 2013 @ 9:40am PDT

Stef Dawson has joined the cast of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2. She will play Annie Cresta, the love interest of Finnick (Sam Claflin). The Australia native is known for her Aussie TV work and indie films including the recent thriller Wrath. Dawson is repped in the U.S. by Armada Partners for management and Chad Christopher at SMGSB, and in Australia by Rowena Mohr at BMEG. Mockingjay Part 1 will be released November 21, 2014 and Part 2 opens November 20, 2015.

Ken Howard will play Kaley Cuoco’s father in the untitled Screen Gems and Miramax wedding comedy. Kevin Hart, Josh Gad, and Cuoco star. Howard, who is shooting The Judge opposite Robert Downey Jr, will next be seen in Sundance’s comedy A.C.O.D, and he was just re-elected as national president of SAG-AFTRA earlier this month. He is repped by Greene & Associates.

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SAG-AFTRA EVP Ned Vaughn Resigns To Run For State GOP

By | Wednesday August 21, 2013 @ 10:53am PDT

So that’s the reason Ned Vaughn opted out of the recent SAG-AFTRA elections – he’s aiming for Sacramento. The union executive VP resigned Tuesday in anticipation of an announcement today to seek the Republican nomination for the California State Assembly’s 66th District. In fact, the actor has already added a “Ned Vaughn for California Assembly” badge to his Twitter page and has a campaign website. And the rare Republican in a heavily Democratic town has got the lingo down too. “I refuse to sit back while a complacent majority sends California down the path to mediocrity,” Vaughn says on the site about his Democratic Party rivals who hold power in the state capitol. 

Before dropping out of this year’s election in the late spring, Vaughn, who joined the Hollywood board in 2008 and was elected 1stVP of SAG in 2010, was a big booster of the 2012 merger of the two unions and had been widely expected to seek the powerful EVP job at the September 26 to 29 national convention. “Ned has been a driving force behind many of our greatest successes, in particular the years-long effort to merge our two unions. There would not be a united SAG-AFTRA without his dedication and commitment. He’s a tremendous leader and I’m sorry to see him go, but wish Read More »

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Ken Howard Re-Elected SAG-AFTRA National President; Amy Aquino Is National Secretary-Treasurer

By | Thursday August 15, 2013 @ 5:46pm PDT

Incumbent Ken Howard has won a landslide victory as national president in the union’s first national election since the March 2012 merger. Amy Aquino was re-elected SAG-AFTRA‘s National Secretary-Treasurer. Both officers will serve two-year terms, effective immediately. Howard received 16,396 votes, with Esai Morales receiving 9,850 votes, Paul Edney receiving 1,359 votes and Marilyn Monrovia receiving 960 votes. “I’m gratified that members across the country have reelected me to lead our union and continue building on the strong foundation we created through merger,” Howard said in a statement. “I want to congratulate Secretary-Treasurer Amy Aquino on her re-election and offer my sincere thanks to all the candidates who ran for office. I look forward to joining the delegates who will assemble in Los Angeles for the first SAG-AFTRA convention in late September, and then moving forward with the new leadership team to do the important work that members have entrusted to us.”

Meanwhile, ballots are still being tabulated for the union’s two largest local elections in Los Angeles and New York. Results are expected later today.

Read the news release after the jump:

Related:
SAG-AFTRA Exec Director’s Pay & Its Funds In Trust Up Fiscal ’12
SAG-AFTRA Fires Back In $110M Foreign Residuals Lawsuit
SAG-AFTRA Reveals More Local Election Results

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SAG-AFTRA Announces Full List Of Eligible Candidates For Inaugural Union Election

SAG-AFTRA tonight put out the full list for its first National election since last year’s merger. With every single office in the national union in play, it is a big list. Partially because of that, SAG-AFTRA has not made clear affiliation to particular slates. In summary, the candidates for National President in alphabetical order are Paul Edney, Ken Howard, Marilyn Monrovia, and Esai Morales. And the candidates for National Secretary-Treasurer are Amy Aquino and Jane Austin. (See below or the 2013 SAG-AFTRA Candidate Elections webpage.)

As previously announced, current SAG-AFTRA co-president Ken Howard is running for the solo National President spot. Even though he’s not part of the slate, Howard is endorsed and is endorsing the NY-based USAN offering, which includes current NY Local President Mike Hodge and Under The Dome’s Samantha Mathis among its candidates. Former NYPD Blue actor Esai Morales, a MembershipFirst anti-merger activist and SAG National Board member, also is running for National President with stuntwoman Jane Austin vying for the sole National Secretary-Treasurer spot. With USAN’s dominance in NY, anti-merger activists are not running candidates there.

Along with Amy Aquino who is running for the sole National Secretary-Treasurer slot, Howard has the same endorsement deal with the LA-based Unite For Strength slate, which he led for the past four years. His present co-President Roberta Reardon is running for NY Local President and the pivotal National Executive Vice President with her newly formed NYC4U slate. Candidates in the Michigan, Nashville and Portland local elections ran unopposed and results will be announced next week. National officer ballots will be mailed to all eligible SAG-AFTRA members nationwide on July 16, with a return deadline and tabulation on August 15. The EVP post and the regional VP positions will be voted on at the inaugural National Convention in Downtown LA on September 26-29.

The election comes as former SAG President Ed Asner and other anti-merger activists filed suit in late May against the union over what they claim is $110 million in undistributed residuals and royalties in their attempt to keep scrutinizing the merged union. Here is tonight’s announcement:

2013 SAG-AFTRA Candidate Elections

Los Angeles (July 12, 2013) – SAG-AFTRA today released the official rosters of candidates for its upcoming elections.

National president and national secretary-treasurer positions are up for election, both of which carry two-year terms. All national board seats are up for election this year, along with all local officer, local board, and convention delegate positions.

The executive vice president and other vice presidents will be elected at the inaugural SAG-AFTRA Convention in September.

National officer ballots will be mailed to all eligible SAG-AFTRA members nationwide on July16, with a return deadline and tabulation on August 15. Election results are expected to be announced that evening. The same schedule will apply to the Los Angeles and New York Local elections. Schedules vary for other local elections.

The candidates for national president are Paul Edney, Ken Howard, Marilyn Monrovia, and Esai Morales. The candidates for national secretary-treasurer are Amy Aquino and Jane Austin.

Candidates in the Michigan, Nashville and Portland local elections ran unopposed and results will be announced next week.

Voter Guides for the national officer elections and for each local with contested elections can be found on the 2013 SAG-AFTRA Candidate Elections  webpage.

2013 National Officers Election

National President – 2 year term
01. Paul Edney
Born and raised in England before moving to USA. I spent 15 months in Iraq 2007-8. Currently completing my Masters degree in Communication. I have appeared in over 65 SAG/AFTRA productions, mostly Background, but also Principal and Featured roles. www.imdb.com/name/nm2481281/. Plus many commercials. I am on the 2014 Screen Actors Guild Awards Nominations Committee. Very active in union politics, especially social media, like actors’ Facebook groups. Are you better off now than before the merger? A recent poll suggests not. I want to change that by ending split earnings; raising the number of Background hires etc. Visit my website www.pauledney.com, then vote. Thank you.

02. Ken Howard
We merged to increase our bargaining power and made historic gains as a result. Our new Commercials Contract delivers $238 million more in wages and benefits – that’s REAL strength. Now we must achieve even greater gains in film, television and new media. I’ve made my living under our contracts for 44 years; I want to give back by making our contracts and union stronger for future generations. That’s why I focused on merger. Now I want to focus on delivering a strong TV/Theatrical Contract and seeing that our benefits are safely merged. Endorsed by www.USANLeadership.com and www.UniteforStrength.com.

03. Marilyn Monrovia
Don’t Bogart the union membership card! While I was not able to become a SAG member until later in life, I want SAG to be an organization that benefits people of any age and at any time along the continuum of their artistic journey. We need to work together as one. And with producers to encourage compliance with contracts. Although I’m currently background talent, I am on first base with SAG and am prepared to go to bat for actors. I plan to help enforce the current policies for protection of all. Photo Lanning Gold…you dirty rat.

04. Esai Morales
As an experienced “actorvist”, I will refine how this merged union can benefit all members. The current delay in residuals is unacceptable. I will hasten the unions promise of merging the pension and health plans. I will ensure that our readiness for the 2014 TV/Theatrical contract negotiations is unparalleled. SAG-AFTRA can no longer operate in the red. I will establish worldwide recognition, branding and proper industry respect for SAG-AFTRA. For our background performers I will lead the vetting of the costly and questionable hiring practices. Support Jane Austin for Secretary-Treasurer. For more details about my platform, visit www.membership1st.org.

National Secretary-Treasurer – 2 year term
05. Amy Aquino
When something matters to me, I simply don’t give up. After two merger efforts failed, I came back as SAG Secretary-Treasurer for a third; we prevailed. With checks multiplying by millions a year, residuals handling needs fundamental change. So when I was brought a proposal for a revolutionary new payment system, I wouldn’t stop until SAG-AFTRA agreed to help test it; we’re starting that this fall. Other challenges ahead- health plan merger, contract negotiations, long-term fiscal security — require vision and persistence. You can count on me for both. Current Co-Secretary-Treasurer, SAG P & H Trustee. www.amyaquino.com. Endorsed by www.UniteforStrength.com

06. Jane Austin
Endorsed by www.membership1st.org. A member for 25 years. Served for several years on both SAG and AFTRA National Boards. I am not only an experienced stunt performer but a experienced business woman, making me qualified for the job. I understand the economics of this business and the financial needs of performers. I’ve been a voting member of the last 3 TV/Theatrical contract negotiations and know my way around balance sheets. My first two goals: Guide this union out of its financial hole and get residuals to members faster. Please support me and presidential candidate Esai Morales.

2013 Arizona-Utah Local Election
2013 Atlanta Local Election
2013 Chicago Local Election

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SAG-AFTRA Election Coalition Collapses As Roberta Reardon Fails To Push NY Local Prez Aside And Secure EVP Support

By | Saturday June 29, 2013 @ 7:39pm PDT

SAG-AFTRAEXCLUSIVE: It was a SAG-AFTRA coalition that ultimately wasn’t. Roberta Reardon‘s plan to run for both NY Local President and National Executive Vice President came only after coalition talks collapsed, union sources tell me. NY-based USAN and the current SAG-AFTRA Co-President’s then-unnamed slate were deep in negotiations to form a powerhouse unit for this year’s union national elections. Those talks included current NY Local President Mike Hodge seeking his post again in this summer’s election and Reardon running for the EVP gig when the SAG-AFTRA national convention meets in September. Initially Reardon wanted Hodge to step aside as NY Local President. But all the principals involved in the coalition negotiations thought that was a bad idea and agreed that the current NY Local President should seek re-election. The grand alliance splintered and folded when Reardon was unable to secure endorsements from the USAN slate for the EVP job. (Related: USAN Unveils SAG-AFTRA Election Slate.) ”People involved in the talks thought that because this is the merged union’s first national election, people shouldn’t be bound by endorsements and should vote their conscience,” a source says. Meanwhile, Reardon has announced the formation of the unfortunately named NYC4U, a new slate that is expected to announce other candidates next week. Read More »

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USAN Unveils SAG-AFTRA Election Slate

By | Thursday June 27, 2013 @ 4:14pm PDT

Today the race for SAG-AFTRA’s first leadership election since the unions merged last spring unofficially began. Jumping the gun on the official candidates list that the union is expected to be released in the next week or so, the New York-based Unite SAG-AFTRA Nationwide slate revealed its list today. “We decided that we would launch today to give members time to become familiar with the candidates,” current NY Local Co-President Mike Hodge told me today. The USAN slate is holding a meet-and-greet event this afternoon with current SAG-AFTRA National Co-President Ken Howard in attendance. Hodge is running for both a National SAG-AFTRA board seat and for NY Local President. While not formally part of the slate, Howard endorses the USAN candidates and is endorsed by them in his declared bid to become the first solo National President of SAG-AFTRA. Howard is also making the same deal with the West Coast United For Strength slate which he helped lead for the past four years. The cutoff for voting eligibility was June 17. Ballots will be mailed out to members in good standing July 16 with the deadline for all ballots 6:30 AM on August 15. Here’s the USAN release: Read More »

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Movie Casting Round-Up: Ken Howard & David Krumholtz Join ‘The Judge’, Madisen Beaty In ‘Measure Of A Man,’ Max Ryan Added To ‘Tokarev’

By | Friday June 7, 2013 @ 9:00pm PDT

Ken Howard has joined the cast of The Judge with Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall. The SAG-AFTRA National Co-President will play Judge Warren in the Warner Bros film. The heartland character presides over the murder trial of Judge Joseph Palmer (Duvall) as he is defended by his cynical and estranged attorney son (Downey). Repped by Greene & Associates Talent Agency, the Emmy-winning actor will also be seen in the upcoming Adult Children of Divorce.

David Krumholtz has also joined The Judge. The actor will play Kattan, a younger prosecutor who challenges the Downey’s character’s sense of right and wrong. Krumholtz can be seen in the upcoming This Is The End with Seth Rogen and James Franco. The independent film Teddy Bears, which he stars opposite Melanie Linsky, premieres this month at The Seattle International Film Festival. Krumholtz is repped by Silver Lining Entertainment and Gersh.

The Terry Loane-directed The Measure Of A Man has added Madisen Beaty to its cast. The actress, who appeared in The Master last year and has a recurring role on ABC Family’s The Fosters, will play the role of Michelle in the film. Measure of Read More »

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SAG-AFTRA Approves Commercials Contract With 96% Yes Vote

By | Friday May 31, 2013 @ 7:33pm PDT

UPDATE 7:27 PM: SAG-AFTRA members voted overwhelmingly to approve its commercials contracts, with 96% of the national membership saying yes. The 2013 SAG-AFTRA Commercials Contract and 2013 SAG-AFTRA Radio Recorded Commercials Contract are the first major pacts negotiated by the merged union since SAG and AFTRA linked up in March 2012. The contracts (summaries are here and here) go into effect immediately, retroactive to April 1, and are good through June 30, 2016. “The significance of this ratification is two-fold,” said Roberta Reardon, National Co-President of SAG-AFTRA. “Not only are these the first major contracts negotiated as SAG-AFTRA, but the contracts’ provisions provide for great improvements in the lives of our members and their families. I am grateful to the SAG-AFTRA members and staff who served alongside me on the negotiating team for all of their hard work.” Added union Co-President Ken Howard, “The overwhelming vote of support for these contracts is gratifying.”

PREVIOUSLY: Members have until 5 PM PT to vote on the Commercials Contract, the first deal negotiated by SAG-AFTRA as a new union. A tentative deal on new contracts covering television and film commercials was reached April 6 and the National Board voted unanimously to approve it April 21. Read More »

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Ken Howard Joins ABC’s ‘Counter Culture’

By | Tuesday March 27, 2012 @ 3:08pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Veteran actor and SAG President Ken Howard has landed one of the last regular roles this pilot season — he is set to co-star in the ABC comedy Counter Culture. The multi-camera pilot, written and executive produced by Stephnie Weir, executive produced by Claudia Lonow and produced by Sony TV, revolves around three sisters, Joyce (Margo Martindale), Nonie (Burke) and Billie (Kerri Kenney, running their family diner together in West Texas who find that sibling dynamics are always getting in the way of getting the job done. Howard, repped by  Greene & Associates and manager Randy James, will play Joyce’s working-class husband Ken who is the caretaker of the diner. Ironically, Counter Culture is produced under AFTRA jurisdiction. However, as SAG president, Howard has been leading the charge for merging the two actor unions. Howard, who has been recurring on 30 Rock, is currently filming Acod opposite Catherine O’Hara is also in negotiations to join Better Living Through Chemistry.

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Ken Howard & Amy Aquino Lead UFS Slate

By | Thursday August 4, 2011 @ 4:48pm PDT

SAG Unveils Candidate Lists For National Elections

Los Angeles, (August 4, 2011) – Unite for Strength today announced that Screen Actors Guild President Ken Howard and Secretary Treasurer Amy Aquino will seek re-election as the Guild’s top national officers. The group will also field a slate of 34 candidates to run for positions on SAG’s National and Hollywood Boards of Directors. The UFS slate features 27 incumbent or returning candidates, including SAG 1st Vice President Ned Vaughn and sitting board member Adam Arkin, and 7 first-time candidates, including Tony Shalhoub (Monk), Stephen Collins (No Ordinary Family), Kate Flannery (The Office), Lisa Vidal (The Event), and Iqbal Theba (Glee). Ballots will be mailed to SAG members on August 23 and will be tabulated on September 22.

“I’m proud to be running with these candidates,” said Ken Howard, who was elected as SAG President on the Unite for Strength ticket in 2009. “Two years ago, I promised members I would do everything possible to bring SAG and AFTRA together, so performers would no longer face the serious problems that come from being divided in two unions. Members have made it clear they need action as soon as possible, and I’m committed to delivering a formal merger plan by January. With an outstanding team like this leading SAG, I know it will happen.”

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USAN Unveils Pro-Merger SAG Slate

United Screen Actors Nationwide has unveiled its slate of candidates for SAG’s National and New York Division elections. The group includes incumbents Ken Howard as National President, Amy Aquino as National Secretary Treasurer, Mike Hodge as NY Division President as well as 11 names for the national and New York boards. The USAN faction of the guild backs the SAG-AFTRA merger, a formal plan for which is due to the national boards in January 2012. The 2011 board candidates include comedian and first-time candidate Lewis Black. The other names: Manny Alfaro, Dave Bachman, Marc Baron, Mark Blum, Rebecca Damon, Traci Godfrey, Ezra Knight, Jay Potter, John Rothman and Kevin Scullin. Said Black: “I’m running with USAN for a simple reason: They are committed to uniting SAG and AFTRA and I want to help them make it happen.” Ballots for the election are due out next month, with results expected in September.

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SAG Calls For 2011 Fall Election Candidates: Ken Howard & Amy Aquino Running Again

By | Thursday June 23, 2011 @ 2:54pm PDT

LOS ANGELES — The National Nominating Committee of the Screen Actors Guild completed interviews and deliberations and have submitted current SAG President Ken Howard and current SAG Secretary-Treasurer Amy Aquino for the positions of President and Secretary-Treasurer respectively for the Guild’s upcoming National Fall election. Eligible Candidates can still qualify for the September elections by completing nominating petitions and filing them with the Guild no later than 5pm (PDT) on July 21. Petitions may be obtained through the Guild Governance office at 323/549-6614. Elections for directors and alternate directors of the national board will also take place this Fall in the Hollywood, New York and Regional Branch Divisions. Ballots will be mailed to the SAG membership on August 23, with a return deadline of September 22.

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SAG, AFTRA Pushing Hard For Single Union

By | Thursday April 7, 2011 @ 6:50am PDT
Mike Fleming

The long expected merger between actor unions SAG and AFTRA is getting an extra push by both unions. On its website, SAG notes that in 2003, 57.78% of membership voted for a merger, but that wasn’t enough. AFTRA makes the same claim on its website. Now, they’ve got a logo and a unified message to both memberships. Here is a letter that was sent to membership by SAG prexy Ken Howard and AFTRA president Roberta Reardon:

The Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA Presidents’ Forum for One Union met on April 2 and 3, 2011, in New York City.

The meeting resulted in meaningful progress toward the goal of uniting SAG and AFTRA. Representatives of both unions unanimously approved draft resolutions for consideration by the unions’ respective National Boards of Directors. The recommendations include a draft mission statement for the successor union and the appointment of formal groups to work on a proposed meeting schedule to develop a merger plan.

The recommendations will be presented to the National Board of Directors of Screen Actors Guild at its meeting April 30 and May 1, 2011 and to the AFTRA National Board of Directors at its meeting May 14, 2011.

The Presidents’ Forum also conducted a comprehensive review of member input received at “listening tour” meetings across the country. In every location, members have expressed overwhelming support for the creation of a unified national union representing actors, recording artists, broadcasters and other media professionals. This outreach

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Trio Joins Fox Comedy Pilot ‘Council Of Dads’, ABC Adds To Drama Pilot ‘Partners’

Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: The Job and Rescue Me alumna Diane Farr is reuniting with the two series’ co-creator Peter Tolan. She is set as the female lead in Fox’s comedy pilot for Fox Council of Dads. Also set as leads in the project are Patrick Breen and SAG president Ken Howard. Inspired by Bruce Feiler’s non-fiction book, the pilot, which is being directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, tells the story of Michael who, just before he dies, enlists five of his guy friends from all aspects of his life to become a “council of dads” to his two young children. Farr will play Michael’s wife, recent widow Catherine, who is absolutely intent on complying with her husband’s dying wish but quickly finds out that the five guys on the Council can agree about absolutely nothing. Breen and Howard will play two of the Council’s members. Howard plays Michael’s dad Burt,  ex-military guy who’s not to be screwed with. Breen plays Jerry, Michael’s ex-therapist who serves as the “Feelings Dad” on the council. Howard, repped by Greene & Assoc. and James/Levy, won an Emmy for Grey Gardens in 2009. He recurs on 30 Rock and is filming Clint Eastwood’s Hoover. Breen, repped by Gersh and A Management, had also been pursued for NBC’s Smash this season. UTA-repped Farr’s other series credits include … Read More »

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Naomi Watts Joins ‘J. Edgar’ Hoover Cast

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Naomi Watts has signed on to star in J. Edgar, the Clint Eastwood-directed biopic. Watts will play Helen Gandy, J. Edgar Hoover’s loyal secretary for 54 years. Hoover (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) called her indispensible and she was the ultimate keeper of his secrets and a behind the scenes influence on the workings of the FBI. After Hoover died, Gandy spent weeks destroying his personal file, which contained the incriminating material that he used to manipulate and control the most powerful figures in D.C.  Imagine’s Brian Grazer is producing with Eastwood and his Malpaso partner Rob Lorenz.

Watts takes the role that Charlize Theron was once expected to play, before she moved on to play the Evil Queen in Snow White and the Huntsman and to likely be in the cast of the Ridley Scott-directed Prometheus. Watts had been the frontrunner, but the studio considered other actresses because it looked like her schedule wouldn’t work out. It has.

Aside from DiCaprio and Watts, Ed Westwick is set to play Agent Smith, a clean-cut operative hired by Hoover to write his biography; Josh Lucas plays aviator Charles Lindbergh; Damon Herriman plays Bruno Hauptmann, the German immigrant accused of kidnapping Lindbergh’s 20-month baby in 1932. Called the crime of the century, Hauptmann’s trial was a major case for Hoover;  Ken Howard is playing U.S. attorney General Harlan F. Stone and Armie Hammer is set to play Clyde Tolson, Hoover’s alleged lover. Erica … Read More »

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SAG National Majority Increases Numbers In Results Of 2010 National Board Elections: Ex-SAG Prez Alan Rosenberg Loses Seat

2ND UPDATE: Hollywood can most likely expect a quick and easy negotiation when the Screen Actors Guild joins with AFTRA to negotiate with the studios and networks starting Monday. It also looks more than likely that SAG will merge with AFTRA soon. That’s because the so-called pro-moderation and pro-merger SAG National Majority — consisting of Unite For Strength (U4S) based in Hollywood and the United Screen Actors Nationwide (USAN) consisting of the NY Division and Regional reps — today strengthened its grip over the big actors union. Usually, those SAG candidates who are also well-known actors fare better in these guild elections. But today’s election results show that rival faction Membership First lost all 13 of its open seats on the 71-member national board, including such well-known incumbents as controversial ex-SAG president Alan Rosenberg, Nancy Sinatra, Valerie Harper, Frances Fisher, and Esai Morales. (Harper and Morales are Alternates.)

So, at least among the small percentage of SAG’s 125,000 membership that actually sent in ballots (less than in recent years), this was a clear repudiation of Membership First’s years of pursuing a hardball negotiating strategy against the AMPTP and a hardline stand against SAG merging with AFTRA.

Now U4S, which came to power just 2 years ago, and its national majority coalition have extended their margin of control over SAG’s policy-setting National Board to about 80% of the votes. UFS will also assume control of the Guild’s Hollywood Division Board, with 75% of the votes. Its better-known winning candidates included Ron Perlman, Gabrielle Carteris, Jeff Garlin, Michael O’Keefe for 3-year terms, and DW Moffett with a 1-year term.

“SAG members have spoken decisively and what they’re saying couldn’t be more clear – they voted for merger,” SAG president Ken Howard, a U4S member, said in a U4S-issued statement after election results were announced. “I’m looking forward to working with all the re-elected and newly elected board members, and our partners at AFTRA, to make one union happen.”

U4S leader Ned Vaughn, who remains just an Alternate for the SAG National Board, called it a “landslide affirmation of Unite for Strength’s goal of uniting SAG and AFTRA as a single performers’ union.” He noted that SAG’s Hollywood Division members today elected 13 U4S candidates to serve on the Guild’s National Board of Directors, and another 20 of the group’s candidates to serve on the SAG Hollywood Board. U4S candidates won 33 of the 35 total seats at stake in Hollywood. “All the candidates elected in the Guild’s New York and Regional Branch Divisions also support the move to one union.”

This coming Monday, SAG and AFTRA will begin jointly bargaining their TV/Theatrical Contract with the AMPTP for 7 weeks, followed by the DGA in mid-November. No date has yet been set for the WGA, whose contract ends May 1, 2011, but the moguls and the AMPTP intend to negotiate with the writers last to ensure there’s the most Hollywood pressure on them. At present, SAG/AFTRA and the DGA are trading information, but not with the WGA despite last year’s talk about all the Hollywood guilds cooperating. Both SAG/AFTRA and the DGA have made it their priority to achieve gains in health and pension, and much less so in wages and New Media. This, despite the fact that Big Media just reported bigger profits this past quarter and better forecasts for the rest of 2010 and also 2011.

The major election issue this time around was exactly how actors should be unionized. U4S and USAN are content to join with AFTRA as is and become one union. However, Membership First has long opposed a combined union with AFTRA because the smaller predominantly represents broadcasters and is simple to join. MF believes that instead all actors should belong to one big union.

But MF was demoralized and disorganized during this latest campaign so it’s no surprise it lost further ground. This was also the first SAG election under the non-disparagement gag order with AFTRA. So any open debate was nonexistent. Even the hot button issue of the SAG National Majority standing idly by last spring while AFTRA poached 38 new broadcast scripted TV series for the 2010-2011 season, compared to SAG’s single new show, never received attention. Read More »

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