Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Improv Actors Needed

Messages from the presidents of SAG-AFTRA

Dear Member,

This weekend, the SAG and AFTRA National Boards took a decisive step to strengthen our future by overwhelmingly endorsing a plan to merge Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. If members approve the merger, the new union will be called SAG-AFTRA.

The vote of the unions’ National Boards came after more than a year of focused effort to hear from members about their needs for stronger union representation and to develop a merger plan to meet those needs. With the enthusiastic approval of our boards, the decision now rests in the hands of AFTrA and SAG members.

Merger referendum ballots are scheduled to be mailed on or about February 27th – but all members of both unions will have access to the complete merger documents within the next couple of days on the SAG and AFTRA websites. Full printed merger documents will also be mailed to each voter with the referendum ballot, which will be due for return on March 30th. This will give each member ample time to make a thoughtful and well-informed decision.

We’re also excited to announce that on Friday, February 3rd, we will launch a new joint website to provide members all the information they’ll want to consider before casting their votes. The website will include complete merger details, FAQs, and a comprehensive calendar of events to alert members nationwide to informational meetings and other opportunities for learning about the plan. Watch your email later this week for details of the website launch.

After more than a year of intensive work, we are extremely proud to bring you this historic opportunity. We also want to acknowledge the ceaseless dedication of the AFTRA and SAG members and staff who came together as the Group for One Union (G1) to produce this remarkable plan. We look forward to sharing all the details and answering any questions you may have. Finally, we are confident that SAG and AFTRA members will embrace this singular chance to harness the true power of unity, and that SAG-AFTRA will protect members and shape the entertainment and media industries for decades to come.

In unity,

Ken Howard
SAG National President

Roberta Reardon
AFTRA National President

Faster Red Box at Higher Prices. Murdock taps Education Leader. Seacrest helps Clear Channel become Multi-Media Empire. Shake Up at X-Factor.Product Placement on Spanish Language Television.

RedboxFamilyFrom the LA Times Company Town Blog. Click here for the latest industry news.
28 Day mandtoary Delay in DVD release ends. Warner Bros.' deal with Redbox has expired with the two companies still at odds over how long consumers should wait to rent DVDs for $1.20 a night.

As a result, kiosk rental company Redbox will have to buy Warner DVDs from retailers like Wal-Mart at a higher price but will no longer make customers wait 28 days after discs go on sale to rent them, as it did under a previous agreement with the studio.

The two sides were clashing earlier this month when Warner Bros. announced it would sell its DVDs and Blu-ray discs only to rental companies that agreed to wait until 56 days after they go on sale. Warner executives believe that the delay encourages consumers to buy DVDs and Blu-rays or rent movies via video-on-demand, both of which are more profitable transactions for the studio at a time when home entertainment revenue has been shrinking for years.

Two years ago, after a similar dispute, Redbox agreed to the 28-day delay in order to buy movies directly from Warner Bros. at a discount. But Redbox has concluded that 56 days is too long to make its consumers -- who often look for new releases in the red kiosks -- wait.

In a statement, Redbox senior vice president of marketing Gary Cohen said the company "will work to provide Warner Bros.' movies through alternate means." That will most likely mean buying the discs in bulk from retailers or other distributors who charge more than the studio when it sells directly.
A Warner Bros. spokesman fired back in a statement: "The consumer is best served by a windowing and pricing structure that ensures a healthy film business continuing to deliver quality movies. We hope to continue discussions with Redbox and reach a mutually agreed upon solution to this situation, but we fully intend to do what is best for our business, our consumers and the industry as a whole."
A person close to the matter but not authorized to speak publicly said the companies had continued talks in hopes of reaching a compromise throughout January. But the two sides could not find common ground and consequently don't currently plan on having more discussions.

Among other major retailers, Netflix agreed to abide by the 56-day delay, but Blockbuster has not, meaning it too will have to buy Warner discs from other sources.

Redbox currently has direct deals with all other Hollywood studios, but its agreement with Universal Pictures expires in April. Universal currently imposes a 28-day delay, and it's not yet known whether it will, like Warner, try to extend it longer.

The first Warner Bros. release that Redbox will have to acquire through "alternate means" is "A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas," which comes out on DVD on Feb. 7.

Separately, Redbox announced Tuesday that it extended a deal to feature its kiosks at 3,700 Wal-Mart stores through January 2015.

From Schools to Media Mogul Empire. The director of communications for the New York City Department of Education has been tapped by News Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch as the media mogul's chief of staff.

Natalie Ravitz will join News Corp. in about two weeks and report directly to Murdoch. Ravitz has close ties to Joel Klein, the former chief of education for New York City who joined News Corp. in 2010 as executive vice president and is a member of Murdoch's Office of the Chairman.

In an internal email to his staff, Murdoch said, Ravitz would help him "prioritize my commitments to align with key News Corp. initiatives."

The announcement comes just one day after News Corp. announced that Teri Everett, the head of corporate communications for News Corp., was resigning.

Everett's role is being filled by Julie Henderson, who had overseen West Coast communications for the media giant and is close to News Corp. president and chief operating officer Chase Carey. While Carey is based in New York, Henderson will split her time between Los Angeles and New York.

The appointment of Ravitz to a key post in Murdoch's inner circle shows the growing clout that Klein carries inside the corridors of the media company. Although Klein was hired to oversee News Corp.'s efforts to enter the education business, Murdoch has come to rely on his counsel on other matters, including the phone hacking scandal at News Corp.'s British newspaper division.

Before running the New York City public school system, Klein served as antitrust chief at the Justice Department and was previously chief executive of Bertelsmann Inc. Last year, Lon Jacobs, News Corp.'s longtime general counsel, left after bumping up against Klein. Earlier this month, News Corp. named Gerson Zweifach, a partner at the white-shoe law firm of Williams & Connolly, its new top lawyer.

Clear Channel gains Reality Show Mogul Ryan Seacrest. Ryan Seacrest and his radio show partner Clear Channel Communications are taking their relationship to the next level.

Not only have private equity funds controlled by Clear Channel's majority owners, Thomas H. Lee Partners (THL) and Bain Capital, have committed up to $300 million to acquire and develop propeties with Ryan Seacrest Media, the producer and television and radio personality's holding company, but Clear Channel is also taking a minority stake in Seacrest's production company.

“We aim to build Ryan Seacrest Media into a leading multimedia company with diversified assets and interests,” Seacrest said in a statement. Already the host of a radio show that airs on Clear Channel stations, Seacrest also hosts Fox's "American Idol and has a growing television production company whose credits include E!'s "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" and ABC's "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.”

For Clear Channel, the investment in Ryan Seacrest Productions allows the radio giant, which wants to expand further into entertainment, to stay in business with the ubiquitous Seacrest even if the radio show eventually goes away. Seacrest has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Matt Lauer when the latter's contract is up on NBC's "Today" show. Such a gig would likely mean Seacrest either moving his radio show to afternoons or scrapping it.

“Ryan is an unmatched creative talent with success across more media platforms and involvement with a greater variety of programming and venues than anyone else in the industry,” said Bob Pittman, chief executive of Clear Channel.

Seacrest has also recently partnered with entrepreneur Mark Cuban and entertainment giant AEG on a new cable channel called AXS that will debut this year and focus primarily on covering the entertainment and music industries.
The X Factor is shaking things up
Photo: Pre-shakeup cast of "The X Factor." Credit: Nino Munoz / Fox  

Don't let the door hit you on the way out. Simon Cowell and the other producers of Fox's musical competition show "The X Factor" did some housecleaning Monday night. Officially gone from the show, which finished its first season without the spectacular ratings the network and Cowell expected, are host Steve Jones and judge Nicole Scherzinger. Unofficially gone is Paula Abdul, who of course worked with Cowell on the massive Fox hit "American Idol." Fox confirmed the exits of Jones and Scherzinger, but as of late Monday night not Abdul. The dirt from from Deadline Hollywood, which looks to have been first to say Abdul was toast along with Jones and Scherzinger. Additional coverage from the Hollywood Reporter.

The Daily Dose: Over the weekend, Sony Pictures unveiled plans to show fans advance footage from this summer's "The Amazing Spider-Man" in a very 21st century way, my colleague Ben Fritz informs us. Rather than "announcing" the screenings, which will take place in 13 cities worldwide on Feb. 6, the studio did their version of the Bat Signal and projected Spider-Man images in public locations, along with the address of a website where fans could order tickets (which sold out rapidly, natch). And for those wondering how Sony will differentiate July's reboot from the original "Spider-Man" movie just 10 years ago, the URL of the website selling the tickets shows that the studio is confronting that question head-on:

Oscar stunt. Jack Gill has pulled off a lot of big stunts in his career, but the biggest still eludes him. The veteran stuntman is trying to persuade the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to create an Oscar for the folks behind the big stunts in movies. "It's ridiculous that we're not honored," Gill, told the Los Angeles Times. "These films can't get made without stunt coordinators."

Do they get their own trailers too? Spanish-language network Univision is taking product placement to a new level in its new telenovela "El Talisman." Not only are Chevrolet products seen throughout the show, one even has a name, and another has its own website. More on how Chevy is driving "El Talisman" from Variety.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Patrick Goldstein on whether pro athletes are surpassing Hollywood stars in the eyes of the public. Concert promoters are optimistic about 2012.

-- Joe Flint and others

Follow me on Twitter. It makes me smile.
Photo: Pre-shakeup cast of "The X Factor." Credit: Nino Munoz / Fox

Monday, January 30, 2012

SAG Awards interview and highlights

Voice Over for Commercial 

Voice over person needed for commercials.

We need a person who can use their voice to convince people to go see a movie or go buy a cd.

We do commercials and songs and we need a person who is good.

Reading and speaking well while getting it right the 2nd time is the key.

If you have production skills in radio imaging, tv commercial or radio spot creation then this is sweet spot for you.

We use protools for recording and we need someone who can do the job with very little supervision.

I am holding interviews daily and I am willing to hire the first best person who can deal with corporate people and artistic people with out pissing them off.

Schedule an interview by Sending a sample of your work to us.

This is from Craigslist, so take appropriate precautions. Union talent may not work this project without a union contrace. This includes all SAG and AFTRA qualified professional talent.


Rebel Yell Reviews UNLV's "The Seagull"

Universal-Hasbro deal fizzles with departure of 'Stretch Armstrong'

Photo: A scene from "Battleship." Credit: Universal Pictures.

 From the LA Times Company Town Blog. Click here for industry news.

With the departure of "Stretch Armstrong," Universal Pictures has no plans for any more movies based on Hasbro toys beyond this summer's release of "Battleship"--marking an inauspicious end to a much-hyped deal signed four years ago.

In February 2008, Universal struck an agreement with Hasbro to produce at least four films derived from seven games and toys: "Battleship," "Candy Land," "Clue," "Magic: The Gathering," "Monopoly" "Ouija," and "Stretch Armstrong."  The arrangement was touted as a significant one for Universal, which had fewer well-known franchises than rival studios.

At the time, the deal was widely mocked by some in the entertainment press as a sign of Hollywood's desperation to make movies based on games and toys with no story rather than betting on original ideas.

"Hasbro's portfolio of products...offer an exciting opportunity for us to develop tentpole movies with built-in global brand awareness," Universal then-Chairman Marc Shmuger said at the time.

Many of Universal's planned but since scrapped movie projects looked to be high-profile at the time. Ridley Scott was attached to direct "Monopoly," while McG was to helm "Ouija" and "Twilight" star Taylor Lautner was to play the title role in "Stretch Armstrong," with Brian Grazer producing.

But since former marketing and production presidents Adam Fogelson and Donna Langley were named chairman and co-chairman, respectively, of the studio in late 2009 (replacing Shmuger and partner David Linde), the Hasbro projects have slowly fallen by the wayside.

"Battleship" was the notable exception. The approximately $200-million production, which mixes naval warfare with an alien invasion, was directed by Pete Berg ("Hancock" and "Friday Night Lights") and opens in May.

Under the agreement, Hasbro paid all costs to develop the projects. But Universal had to pay the toy company a penalty of $5 million for the properties it did not turn into movies.

All of the remaining six projects are now being developed by Hasbro, which maintains an office on the Universal lot but essentially acts as an independent producer with the ability to set up movies at any studio.

"Our deal with Universal has evolved over time, but there's still a lot of interest in our projects out there," said Wayne Charness, senior vice president of corporate communications for Hasbro.
The toy company announced Monday that it has set up "Stretch Armstrong" with independent studio Relativity Media, which intends to release the movie in April of 2014. Lautner is no longer attached to star.

Hasbro already has two properties at Paramount Pictures that were set up before the Universal pact: "Transformers," which has become one of Hollywood's biggest movie franchises, and "G.I. Joe," for which a sequel will be released this June after the original did decent business in 2009.

 From the LA Times Company Town Blog. Click here for industry news.

Christina Aguilera At Etta James Funeral

Casting Call for non-union film 

Looking for 2 male and 2 female actors for about 3-4 hours each. Age range 25-40. Plan on spending about 3 hours total and earning $50.

You should be able to pass yourself off as a real estate agent and be able to be dressed appropriately.

Filming and scripts will be very plain and simple.

Video involves real estate client/agent situations and there will be no need to memorize lines. Two people will be selected to be the agents, and two to be the clients.

This is going to be a fun and simple project. You will get named in the credits at the end of the video.

Please send an email with links to some of the projects you have worked on. If you haven't working on anything formally, just a video link to something that you have appeared in online, even if it is very casual. If you haven't appeared on video, then a list of some plays or productions that you have appeared in.

Please do NOT send any attachments as they won't be opened. You can copy and paste into an email.

We will be shooting this Saturday morning, February 4th from about 9am - noon in the Southwest area of Las Vegas in a real estate office and a couple locations nearby.

NOTE: This is from Craiglist, so take appropriate precautions. Union talent may not work without a union contract. There are low budget and ultra-low budget contract that help producers use qualified professional union talent. Contact the SAG office for details.

The Gray. Dreamworks has two hits but can they save the studio? Las Vegas's Kirkorian wants back into Hollywood. Will SAG and AFTRA Merge? The Actor goes to...

The Grey finished first
Photo: Liam Neeson in "The Grey." Credit: Open Road 

Note: From The LA Times Company Town Blog. Click here for industry news.
'The Grey' brings in the green. Liam Neeson's "The Grey" became the actor's third action hit in a row, taking in $20 million and easily finishing first at the box office. Doing better than expected was Katherine Heigl's "One for the Money" while "Man on a Ledge" fell off and went splat. Box-office coverage from the Los Angeles Times and Movie City News.

The Daily Dose: On Sunday, CBS' "60 Minutes" ran a profile of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. But anyone expecting a Troy Polamalu-like hit on the NFL's big boss by television's toughest news magazine was sadly disappointed. While it would be silly to expect one of the NFL's biggest customers to bite the hand that feeds it, the piece could have still raised some tough issues. For example, how about asking Goodell about how fewer fans can afford to go to games or whether he's worried about how rising television rights fees for his product leads to bigger cable bills for fans? Too close to home? Then how about whether he's comfortable with the league being in bed with so many beer companies?

Dilemma for DreamWorks. With its movies "The Help" and "War Horse" in the running for lots of Oscar love, the mood should be bright and confident at DreamWorks, the movie studio run by Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider. Instead, though, the production company finds itself facing questions about its financial future as their initial investment from backer Reliance Entertainment runs out. The New York Times looks at the challenges facing Spielberg & Co.

Hey DreamWorks, I solved your dilemma. While the New York Times writes about DreamWorks' potential money crunch, the Wall Street Journal says that 94-year-old billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, who used to own MGM, again wants to be a player in Hollywood. While the WSJ didn't talk to Kerkorian (or even get a recent picture), Jay Rakow, one of his top aides, told the paper, "Our investment or investments could include a technology company with the potential to transform the entertainment industry to a studio or mini-major which can benefit from the infusion of cutting-edge technology." Perhaps Kirk can pick up the phone and call Steven Spielberg. Problem solved and my finder's fee is only 10%.

Too soon to tell? It's been a year since Comcast took over running NBC and the Financial Times says the move is paying off for the peacock network. The story notes all the money Comcast has pumped into NBC for programming and new leadership. It's true that NBC is spending a lot to develop new shows and beef up its local stations. However, the fact that Comcast is investing in NBC doesn't mean it is proving profitable for the cable giant. If the network rises out of last place and starts making more money, then Comcast brass can pop the champagne.

Wait, you mean that's wrong? The ethics scandal tearing through media giant News Corp.'s British tabloids picked up steam over the weekend when several reporters from the Sun were arrested as part of an investigation into illegal payoffs from the press to police. Details from the Los Angeles Times and BBC.

The lesson is report before reporting. Before legendary Penn State coach Joe Paterno died, an erroneous report of his death was posted by a Penn State student website. Then CBS Sports picked up that wrong story and posted it as well, giving it legs. Now CBS Sports has canned the staffer guily of posting first and asking questions later. More from the Washington Post.

Will they do it this time? Over the weekend both the board of Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artist voted to send a reforrendum to their memberships at the end of February to seek approval of a new union to be known as AFTRA-SAG. Details will be made available to members on a special web site starting this Friday. If the two performers unions merge they would form the largest single union in Hollywood.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: "The Help" was the big winner at Sunday's Screen Actors Guild Awards.  Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman saw his pay package drop by about 50% to only $43 million. A look at NBC executive Paul Telegdy, who oversees late night and alternative programming for the network.

-- Joe Flint
Follow me on Twitter. I won't censor your tweets at me.

The creators of Homeland and 24...SOPA...and Sundance on The Business

Howard Gordon Talks 'Homeland' and '24'

Howard Gordon Talks 'Homeland' and '24'

Howard Gordon, co-creator of Homeland and former show-runner of 24, talks about how both of these shows tapped into the very different zeitgeist of the day.

Homeland, Showtime's psychological thriller, recently won the Golden Globe for Best Dramatic Series and the lead, Claire Danes, won for her portrayal of a bi-polar CIA agent who's convinced a POW (Damian Lewis) has been turned into an al Qaeda operative. Gordon talks about how he and his writing partner, Alex Gansa, adapted Homeland from an Israeli series, how they used real CIA agents as consultants, and how it's supposedly one of President Obama's favorite shows.

Today's Banter Topics:
- Follow-up to last week's banter on SOPA and PIPA and how Hollywood lost the fight in DC. There are those who say that piracy is not an issue, despite the documentation of billions of dollars in tax revenue and many times that in sales revenue lost each year to piracy. People want to believe that everything should be free...regardless of whom it hurts. Many feel that it is the first step to getting into their bedrooms and telling them what to watch, think or do, despite the very focused and needed language of the bills.

- Sundance highlights and the buying atmosphere in Park City. It went well but buyers were cautious at first. Still all buyers came out with films, from comedies to dramas and a record number of documentaries. Even films that audiences did not seem to like sold for millions. Low cost to acquire and market makes for profits.

Goldberg, Klein and Flanagan to Present 2012 AMEE Awards

Goldberg, Klein and Flanagan to Present 2012 AMEE Awards

Posted January 25, 2012

LOS ANGELES and NEW YORK  --- The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) – a national union of more than 70,000 performers, recording artists and broadcast professionals – today announced award presenters for the AFTRA Foundation’s 2012 AFTRA Media and Entertainment Excellence Awards (The AMEES). Presenting awards at the AMEES benefit gala will be comedian Robert Klein, actress and host Whoopi Goldberg and MTV executive Bill Flanagan.
The AMEES will be held Feb. 6, 2012 at The Plaza Hotel in New York. Receiving honors will be broadcaster and rock historian Pete Fornatale, actress Phylicia Rashad and singer Rosanne Cash.
Award-winning radio host (“Bob Edwards Show” on Sirius XM Radio) and AFTRA National First Vice President Bob Edwards will host the awards.
Robert Klein, presenting for Pete Fornatale, AMEE Award in Broadcasting
For more than 40 years, Robert Klein has entertained on stage, television and in film, getting his start as a member of Chicago’s famed “Second City” theatrical troupe. In 1975, Klein was the first comedian to appear in a live concert on the then-new cable network Home Box Office. He has gone on to do nine one-man shows for HBO. He received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical and won a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award in 1979 for his performance in the hit Neil Simon musical, “They’re Playing Our Song.” In 1993, Klein won an Obie and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor for Wendy Wasserstein’s “The Sisters Rosensweig.” A member of AFTRA since 1966, Klein has earned two Grammy nominations, in 1973 for his album “Child of the Fifties” and in 1974 for “Mind over Matter.”  Among dozens of starring and guest-starring roles on television, he co-starred in the hit NBC series “Sisters” and recently appeared as a recurring guest-star on “Law and Order.” A popular talk show guest, he has made more than 100 appearances on a host of programs, including the AFTRA-covered late night programs “The Tonight Show” and “Late Show with David Letterman.” Klein’s films include “Hooper,” “The Owl and the Pussycat,” “Primary Colors,” “People I Know,” “Two Weeks’ Notice,” “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” and “The Back-Up Plan” with Jennifer Lopez.  An author, Klein’s 2005 memoir, “The Amorous Busboy of Decatur Avenue,” focuses on his growing up in the ‘50s and ‘60s and his early years embarking on a show business career. Born in the Bronx and a lifelong New Yorker, Klein makes his home in Westchester and New York City.
Whoopi Goldberg, presenting for Phylicia Rashad, AMEE Award in Entertainment
Whoopi Goldberg is among an elite group of artists who have won a Grammy (“Whoopi Goldberg,” 1985), an Academy Award (“Ghost,” 1991), a Golden Globe (“The Color Purple,” 1985 and “Ghost,” 1991), an Emmy (as host of AMC’s “Beyond Tara:  The Extraordinary Life of Hattie McDaniel,” in 2002 and then in 2009 a Daytime Emmy for “The View”) and a Tony Award (Producer of “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” 2002). She is equally well-known for her humanitarian efforts on behalf of children, the homeless, human rights, education, substance abuse and the battle against AIDS, as well as many other causes and charities. Goldberg is a Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations, but among her many charitable endeavors, she is possibly best known for her appearances with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams on the nine AFTRA-covered “Comic Relief” comedy specials that raised money for and awareness of the homeless. On television, Goldberg can currently be seen as one of the hosts of the Emmy-winning AFTRA daytime program “The View.” In addition, Goldberg has appeared on many television series and specials, including her own HBO specials, and as a three-time host of ABC’s “A Gala for the President at Ford’s Theatre.” Goldberg received Emmy Award nominations for hosting the 66th, 68th and 71st “Academy Awards” telecasts and returned to host the 2002 telecast at the new Kodak Theatre. In 2008, Whoopi hosted the Tony Awards for the first time. For five seasons, she starred on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and also hosted her own syndicated late-night talk show. In film, Goldberg made her film debut in Steven Spielberg’s version of Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple.” It was the first of many motion-picture roles in both dramas and comedies that has won her critical acclaim for her performances. In addition to “Ghost,” she has appeared in “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Soapdish,” “Sarafina!” and “Sister Act.” She is a producer of the Broadway musical, “White Noise.”
Bill Flanagan, presenting for Rosanne Cash, AMEE Award in Sound Recordings
Bill Flanagan is executive vice president of the MTV Networks Music Group. He is the creator and producer of the original musical programs “VH1 Storytellers” and “CMT Crossroads.” He produced “The Beatles Revolution” for ABC, “Elvis Lives” for NBC and was one of the producers for “The Concert for New York City,” a nationally televised concert that raised money for the victims of the 9-11 attacks. Flanagan has written for “Spy,” “Esquire,” “Vanity Fair,” “Rolling Stone,” “GQ” and many other magazines and media outlets. He has also written album notes for the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Sam Cooke, Charles Mingus, Van Morrison, Jeff Buckley, U2, the Replacements, James Taylor and Carole King. An accomplished author, Flanagan writes both fiction and nonfiction, including “Written in my Soul,” a collection of conversations with songwriters from Chuck Berry to Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen, “Last of the Moe Haircuts,” “U2 at the End of the World” and the novels “A&R,”  “New Bedlam” and “Evening’s Empire.” Flanagan has also appeared as an on-air essayist for the AFTRA program “CBS News Sunday Morning.”
Tickets can be purchased online at

Press & Awards Night Coverage:
Leslie Simmons
AMEE Awards Coordinator:
Lynda Rivers
About the AMEES
The AMEES were created in 2003 to honor AFTRA members for excellence in their craft and their contributions to the fields of media and entertainment. Proceeds from the 2012 AMEE Awards go to benefit the AFTRA Foundation, an independent non-profit organization separate from AFTRA that provides support to charitable and educational endeavors critical to AFTRA members, including the George Heller Memorial Scholarship which provides scholarships to AFTRA members and their dependents for academic study and the International News Safety Institute, the only global organization solely dedicated to the safety of journalists and other news professionals.
Past AMEE recipients include David Crosby, John Walsh, Jaime Jarrin, Robin Roberts, Charles Osgood, Bob Edwards, Smokey Robinson, Vin Scully, Jeanne Cooper and Sam Moore. Other past honorees include the late "60 Minutes" producer Don Hewitt and his team of CBS on-air journalists including the late Ed Bradley, Steve Kroft, Dan Rather, Andy Rooney, Morley Safer, Bob Simon, Lesley Stahl and Mike Wallace.
About the AFTRA Foundation
Founded by the AFTRA National Board of Directors in 1997 as a separate legal entity from the union, the AFTRA Foundation is a charitable and educational organization funded through tax-deductible voluntary contributions, grants and bequests—not AFTRA member dues—to support projects outside the scope of normal activities at AFTRA, including charitable endeavors, special conferences, studies, seminars and other events. For more information, visit
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO, are the people who entertain and inform America. In 32 Locals across the country, AFTRA members work as actors, broadcasters, singers, dancers, announcers, hosts, comedians, disc jockeys and other performers across the media industries including television, radio, cable, sound recordings, music videos, commercials, audio books, non-broadcast industrials, interactive games, the Internet and other digital media. The 70,000 professional performers, broadcasters and recording artists of AFTRA are working together to protect and improve their jobs, lives and communities in the 21st century. From new art forms to new technology, AFTRA members embrace change in their work and craft to enhance American culture and society. Visit AFTRA online at

Anti Merger Lawsuit Gets Stuck in the Mud

That threatened lawsuit aimed at blocking merger between SAG and AFTRA because of Pension and Health Plan issues is mired in the muck and may never get out. According to a website put up anonymously by merger opponents, the legal action was planned “to represent us in our legal quest to compel SAG to conduct a feasibility/impact study and publicly announce the results of the study prior to the merger referendum vote.”

It came as a shock to opponents and many supporters as well to when the SAG Board heard Friday afternoon that there had been a P&H/H&R study. What frustrated opponents even more was that, to no one’s surprise, the study said the same thing that the Mercer Report did back in 2003. According to both reports there is no legal impediment to merger of the SAG and AFTRA health and pension plans.

Back in 2003 merger opponents latched on to a memo written by a management trustee of the SAG plan who said he had “concerns” about merger, and who cited the Mercer Report as saying SAG members could be hurt by merger of the plans.

Opponents are now suggesting that the report prepared at the request of G1 isn’t really enough, that the SAG Constitution requires something more. But they’re wrong.

The SAG Constitution itself doesn’t have any such requirement. The Phase 1 Agreement, which is Appendix 1 of the SAG Constitution, says:
“The Committees agree to recommend that the consolidation of the respective pension plans be studied so that it may ascertained (a) what, if any, merger plan can be achieved which will satisfy the requirements of law and the protection of all eligible members against loss of benefits, presently or in the future; and (b) the willingness of industry trustees to consolidate the plans.”
But that document is dated Sept. 15, 1981, this merger proposal wasn’t put together under Phase 1.

And all the Phase 1 agreement required is that the committees recommend a study. It didn’t require one.

So while there could still be a lawsuit, we’d bet this one is DOA.

Or, as we like to say, fizzled again.

The above is from

SAG President Ken Howard Launches SAG-AFTRA Merger Campaign at SAG Awards

Ken Howard SAG Awards - P 2012
Getty Images

Earlier in the day, Howard and AFTRA president Roberta Reardon urged members in an email to “embrace this singular chance to harness the true power of unity.”

From The Hollywood Reporter (click here).

Those remarks, televised live across the country, were preceded by an email sent to all SAG and AFTRA members shortly before the awards ceremony. In that missive, Howard and AFTRA president Roberta Reardon struck a similar note, urging members to “embrace this singular chance to harness the true power of unity.”

Acknowledging Reardon in the audience and calling her “my dear friend and tireless partner,” Howard reminded the audience that on stage a year ago at the Awards, he had promised that the two unions would work towards a merger plan.

That plan, he told the audience, was “overwhelmingly endorsed” by the two unions’ boards this
“The final decision,” Howard noted in his remarks, “is in the hands of members.”

On the red carpet earlier in the afternoon, Reardon told The Hollywood Reporter that AFTRA members were “excited and hopeful,” and added that merger will allow the new union to “move forward and address all the problems that we’ve not been able to address well separately.”

The email to members also disclosed that the merger documents will be posted on the SAG and AFTRA websites in the next few days, and that on Friday, the unions will launch a new, joint website with details, FAQs and a calendar of informational meetings and other events. The email said that, as previously stated, the merger referendum will be sent to the two unions’ membership for a vote on or about February 27, with a ballot return and tabulation deadline of March 30.

From the Hollyood Reporter (click here)

Stronger Image Films

Curently Casting: Tells the story of a Las Vegas drug dealer who lives a crazed drugged out lifestyle alongside many gonzo cronies, but eventually opts out of the business before it destroys him.

Strong Image Films is a Las Vegas based Independent film production company. We have numerous projects in various stages of development including a crime drama and horror film.

Character Breakdowns

Strong Image Films has numerous projects in various stages of development. Please “Like” our pages below for project updates.

Please "Like" for updates and post your information on:

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If you have any questions or if you would like to request sides to help you prepare for your audition send info to:


'Grey' stunt performer taps into animal within

'The Grey' shines bright in opening weekend

Liam Neeson is on top of the box office
From the LA Times Company Town blog

Liam Neeson has secured his status as the thinking man's action star as his latest thriller -- "The Grey" -- finished on top of the box office this weekend.

"The Grey," about a group of oil refinery workers battling the elements and the Alaskan wildlife after a plane crash, easily beat industry expectations. Distributor Open Road and said the movie taking in $20 million, while rival studios put the film's box office between $19.2 million and $19.6 million. Either way, "The Grey" had no trouble exceeding the projections that had it topping out at $14 million.

For the 59-year-old Neeson, "The Grey" is his third successful action movie in a row. The roughly $20 million that "The Grey" raked in is on par with last year's "Unknown," which took in $21.9 million in its first weekend and not too far off from 2009's "Taken," which made almost $25 million in its debut.
With a production budget of only about $25 million, it is likely that "The Grey" will be in the black fairly quickly. Open Road Films, a joint venture formed last year by theater chains AMC Entertainment and Regal Cinemas, acquired the title for about $5 million.

"We knew on Friday we were doing well when 'The Grey' was trending on Twitter," said Open Road Chief Executive Tom Ortenberg.

The Grey
Working Hollywood is a recurring feature that appears in Sunday's Calendar section and explores unusual below-the-line jobs in movies and television. It now will make Company Town its online home -- in today's edition, meet Shawn Beaton, a stunt man who wore wolf's clothing for the Alaska-set Liam Neeson adventure "The Grey," which opened in theaters Friday.

As a stunt performer, Shawn Beaton has doubled for the likes of Michael Chiklis in the "Fantastic Four" movies and Matt Damon in the upcoming sci-fi drama "Elysium." But his job as a wolf stunt performer on the new man-against-nature meditation "The Grey" required him to -- almost quite literally -- crawl into the skin of a different animal. "I wore the full wolf suit with this huge head and everything, and it was wild," Beaton said.

Before answering the call of the wild on the R-rated film that stars Neeson and was directed by Joe Carnahan, Beaton honed his skills in tae kwon do, attending the Canadian Olympic team trials in 1988. At 21, he moved from his hometown of Kelowna, Canada, to Vancouver and landed a job in a pub, where one of the bar managers happened to be a stunt driver.

REVIEW: 'The Grey'

Soon, Beaton was training with a group of Vancouver-based film fighters and expanding his repertoire into other forms of martial arts and gymnastics. "It’s a pretty good little community up here, so we all teach each other and share techniques," Beaton said.

With its premise of a group of plane crash survivors struggling to make their way to safety in a harsh Alaska landscape populated by vicious wolves, "The Grey" presented unique challenges as Beaton strove to blend in with shots of live wolves, animatronics and some visual effects.

"When they need some actual, real movement from somebody, that’s where I would come in, creeping behind a bush, popping my head up or feeding off of a body," he said. "So there was a lot of physical acting involved in it."

Wild kingdom: "The Grey" wasn’t the first time Beaton had tapped into his animal instincts. "I've worked with movement trainers before for monkeys or gorillas or cats," he said. "And in wushu, Chinese martial arts, you study a lot of different animal styles like tiger and eagle claw and snake. So that type of animal movement really helps me adapt to this work."

Low profile: "I watched a lot of wolf videos on YouTube and practiced in my house and videotaped myself so that I was getting the right type of movement and body positioning," Beaton said. "Wolves are a little easier than some animals because their back legs are a lot longer and their hips are in a slightly lower position than some dogs. So it actually helped me out with that, because for a human on all fours, your arms are obviously shorter than your legs. By stretching out your back legs, you even out the angle of the back. So you're able to keep your hips down and your back down, and you have that linear look of a wolf. If you watch them, they're really sleek and low to the ground."

Pain in the neck: Shooting in a Canadian forest in mid-January, Beaton didn't mind his fur coat, but he found his wolf head a little awkward. "It felt like around 20, 25 pounds," he said. "The way they designed the suit, there were bungee ropes that were attached to the head and to my back to help me deal with the weight of the head. But when I was down in the wolf position, it was a lot of strain on the back of the neck to keep it up and be able to maneuver it around. So it was a lot of sore necks at the end of the night."

Gasping for air: The head posed another major challenge. "Even though there are breathing holes in there, it still hampers your breathing," Beaton said. "When you have to pretty much go full out in that wolf body position on all fours, you’re not getting as much oxygen flow into your lungs because you have a head on. So until you're able to take the head off and actually catch your breath, you're stuck in there for a second, so you're just calming down your heart in between shots and trying to slow your breath down."

Fowl humor: "James Bitonti, the first AD, was calling me the San Diego Chicken, because when I was standing upright and I had the head on, I looked like a giant chicken," Beaton said. "The legs weren’t covered with fur from my knees down, so I just had these bare legs with boots, and then the rest of it. So that was pretty funny. And a lot of the girls happened to like the tail that was on there. So there were a lot of giggles on this one about the suit. You have to have a sense of humor about it. We had a good time." 

On Location: Vintage Eye glasses provide clear path to Hollywood
On Location: Inclusion Films opens doors in Hollywood
On Location: Dante Ferretti re-creates Paris in 'Hugo'

 -- Cristy Lytal

Photo: Liam Neeson faces off against a wolf (Shawn Beaton) in the Alaskan wilderness in the movie "The Grey" The movie uses a combination of CGI, animatronics and the physical artistry of Shawn Beaton.  Credit: Open Road Films

Sunday, January 29, 2012

"The illiterate of the future will not be
the person who cannot read.
It will be the person who does not know
how to learn."

- Alvin Toffler, American writer-futurist (1928- ).

SAG Awards Auction open for bids until Thursday!

SAG Awards Ceremony Auction Happening Now!

The Ceremony Auction is open through Thursday, Februrary 2nd till 6pm PST.

The Ceremony Auction includes collectibles from many of the nominees including:  George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Brad Pitt,
Betty White, and the casts of “30 Rock,” “Boardwalk Empire,”
“Breaking Bad,” “The Descendants,”“Dexter,”
“Game of Thrones,”
“Glee,” “Modern Family”, and more.
Plus set-visits, celebrity meet-and-greets,and one-of-a-kind experiences.

Full List Here!

Screen Actors Guild Foundation would like to thank our generous sponsors
PEOPLE Magazine and the Entertainment Industry Foundation,
Graff Diamonds, FIJI Water, L'Oréal Paris, Champagne Taittinger,
TNT/TBS, Dry Creek Vineyard, Los Angeles Times, Sir Anthony Hopkins,
And a special thank you to the SAG Awards® for their continued support!

Proceeds from the Screen Actors Guild Awards Auctions will benefit the SAG Foundation to help sustain their award winning children's literacy programs: BookPALS(Performing Artists for Literacy in Schools), reading to over 100,000 children monthly in classrooms and hospitals nationwide, and Storyline Online, reaching an average of 1 million views globally each month. The auction also supports the Foundation's Catastrophic Health Fund and emergency services, the Actors Center, and the video preservation of the creative legacy of professional actors. For additional information, please visit

SAG Awards 2012: The Winners List

SAG Awards 2012: 'The Help' Dominates Film Honors,

'Boardwalk Empire' Tops TV

SAG President Ken Howard Extols AFTRA Merger at SAG Awards

From The Hollywood Reporter. Click here or see the links below for full coverage.
The Help Cast SAG Awards - H 2012
Getty Images

Complete rundown of the 18th annual winners and nominees in all categories.

The biggest and brightest stars of film and television came together on Sunday, Jan. 29 to honor their peers at the 18th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Christopher Plummer and Octavia Spencer took home the evening's first awards for supporting actor and actress, while Alec Baldwin, Kate Winslet, Betty White and the casts of Modern Family and Boardwalk Empire were among the others earning nods during the ceremony. Receiving the night's top honors were Jean Dujardin for best actor in a leading role, Viola Davis for best female actor in a leading role and The Help for best ensemble in a motion picture.

Mary Tyler Moore accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award from Dick Van Dyke midway through the show, taking the opportunity to explain why she chose to use her middle name to separate herself from the six other Mary Moore's already on SAG's roster in the early stages of her Hollywood career.
Stay tuned for real-time updates as the winners are announced. See the complete list of nominees below.

ANALYSIS: SAG Awards Nominations Key Stats, Inclusions and Snubs


Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor In A Supporting Role
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Armie Hammer, J. Edgar
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
*WINNER Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Supporting Role
*WINNER Octavia Spencer, The Help
Berenice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs

Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor In A Comedy Series
*WINNER Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Steve Carell, The Office
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family

Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Comedy Series
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
*WINNER Betty White, Hot In Cleveland

Outstanding Performance By An Ensemble In A Comedy Series
30 Rock
The Big Bang Theory
*WINNER Modern Family
The Office

Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Television Movie Or Miniseries
Diane Lane, Cinema Verite
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Emily Watson, Appropriate Adult
Betty White, The Lost Valentine
*WINNER Kate Winslet, Mildred Pierce

Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor In A Television Movie Or Miniseries
Laurence Fishburne, Thurgood
*WINNER Paul Giamatti, Too Big to Fail
Greg Kinnear, The Kennedys
Guy Pearce, Mildred Pierce
James Woods, Too Big to Fail

Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Drama Series
Kathy Bates, Harry’s Law
Glenn Close, Damages
*WINNER Jessica Lange, American Horror Story
Julianna Margules, The Good Wife
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer

Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor In A Drama Series
Patrick J. Adams, Suits
*WINNER Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter

Outstanding Performance By An Ensemble In A Drama Series
*WINNER Boardwalk Empire
Breaking Bad
Game of Thrones
The Good Wife

Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor In A Leading Role
George Clooney, The Descendants
Demian Bichir, A Better Life
Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar
*WINNER Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Leading Role
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
*WINNER Viola Davis, The Help
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin

Outstanding Performance By A Cast In A Motion Picture
The Artist
The Descendants
*WINNER The Help
Midnight in Paris

Outstanding Performance By A Stunt Ensemble In A Motion Picture
The Adjustment Bureau
Cowboys & Aliens
*WINNER Harry Potter and the Deahtly Hallows: Part II
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
X-Men: First Class

Outstanding Performance By A Stunt Ensemble In A Television Series
*WINNER Game of Thrones
Spartacus: Gods of the Arena
True Blood

 Hollywood actors showered support on 'The Help,' giving the ensemble drama a trio of Screen Actors Guild trophies. | Read More
Related: Live from the SAG Awards

SAG Awards 2012: The Martin Scorsese drinking gameSAG Awards 2012: 'Bridesmaids' cast gets their drink on -- (blog)
We Think The Bridesmaids Ladies Made Up Their Martin Scorsese ...Crushable
Kristen Wiig: Balenciaga Beautiful at the 2012 SAG


SAG Awards 2012: The Winners List
SAG Awards 2012: The Winners' Reactions

SAG President Ken Howard Extols AFTRA Merger at SAG Awards

SAG Awards 2012: Mary Tyler Moore Honored for Lifetime Achievement: 'I'm Happy After All'
VIDEO: Michel Hazanavicius on 'The Artist's' SAG Awards Nominations, DGA Awards Win
SAG Awards 2012: 'Harry Potter,' 'Game of Thrones' Win Stunt Ensemble Honors

PHOTOS: SAG Awards 2012 Red Carpet Arrivals

SAG Awards Fashion: Angelina Jolie Plays It Safe In a Jenny Packham Black Halter Gown
SAG Awards Fashion: Michelle Williams Saves Color for the Important Carpets With Red Valentino

SAG Awards Fashion: 'Bridesmaids' Babes Rose Byrne, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy Rock the Red Carpet

THR's Complete SAG Awards 2012 Coverage

PHOTOS: SAG Awards 2012 Red Carpet Arrivals

USA Today coverage
Los Angeles Times
People Magazine Online 
Reuters Coverage
Chicago Sun Times
MTV on the Red Carpet

SAG Awards: Mary Tyler Moore Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

 SAG Awards 2012: Mary Tyler Moore gets lifetime achievement (blog)
SAG Awards 2012: Mary Tyler Moore Honored for Lifetime Achievement ...Hollywood Reporter
Mary Tyler Moore: After SAG Awards, what could be next?Los Angeles Times

SAG Awards: 30 Rock's Katrina Bowden anounces engagement