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Hollywood Digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   April 14, 2003 at 2:54 PM   |   Comments

HOLLYWOOD UNIONS CLOSER TO NEW DEAL

The consolidation of the two major unions representing performers took another step forward over the weekend.

The boards of directors of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists voted in separate meetings to approve and recommend a plan to fold the two unions together into a new organization. The new entity, which would be called the Alliance of International Media Artists, would have three affiliates -- representing actors, broadcasters and recording artists.

Now that the boards have endorsed the plan, it will go before SAG and AFTRA members for a referendum.

In a joint statement, SAG President Melissa Gilbert and AFTRA President John Connolly said the consolidation would better position the unions to represent performers in a "new media" environment.

"This is history in the making," said the statement. "The decisions of our boards signal their recognition that performers and other media employees face serious and ongoing assaults on their wages and working conditions, requiring brave, decisive action in response. United, we have the power, leverage and resources to win better contracts, benefits and job opportunities as we sit across the table from corporate behemoths that control every aspect of entertainment and news."


'PRACTICE' HEADING FOR THE DOOR?

The ABC television legal drama "The Practice" would be trying its last case in May, according to a report in the New York Post.

The paper said that the show's creator-producer David E. Kelley visited the set recently to let the cast and crew that the upcoming season-ending episode "Goodbye" might be the end of the show's six-year prime-time run.

A publicist for Kelley told the Post the end of this season is not necessarily the end for the show.

"David Kelley wrote a script that could serve as both a season and series finale -- if needed," said spokeswoman Stacey Luchs. "While it is true that David did in fact visit the set of 'The Practice' ... he did so to 'pre-empt' any concerns that the cast and crew members might have, given the script's title, 'Goodbye.'"

Citing sources, the paper said the script for the season-ender has Bobby (Dylan McDermott) quitting his law firm and leaving his wife.


RICHARD GERE'S NEXT

Richard Gere will reportedly star in a movie about a man who devoted his life to photographing Emperor penguins in the Antarctic.

Daily Variety reported Monday that Gere will reunite with his "Primal Fear" director Gregory Hoblit for "Emperor Zehnder" -- based on a Vanity Fair article about photographer Bruno P. Zehnder.

Gere, a Golden Globe winner for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for "Chicago," will reportedly start the project after he finishes work with Jennifer Lopez on a remake of the 1996 Japanese romantic comedy "Shall We Dance?"

The Vanity Fair article was penned by Vanity Fair writer-turned-scribe Ned Zeman and Daniel Bernstein and will likely be partly shot in the Antarctic.


MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY'S NEXT

Matthew McConaughey is reportedly in final talks to star in and executive produce a movie adaptation of Clive Cussler's 1992 novel "Sahara."

According to The Hollywood Reporter, McConaughey will star as adventurer-explorer Dirk Pitt, who is searching for a mysterious toxin that is killing marine life. The Reporter said McConaughey and his production company partners envision a movie franchise based on Cussler's 13-book series of books with Pitt as the main character.


SANDLER, BYNES WIN BIG AT KIDS' CHOICE AWARDS

Adam Sandler, Amanda Bynes and "SpongeBob SquarePants" were the big winners Saturday at Nickelodeon's 16th annual Kids' Choice Awards, taking two prizes each.

Sandler won the fan vote for Favorite Movie Actor and Favorite Voice From an Animated Movie, "Eight Crazy Nights." Bynes ("The Amanda Show," "Big Fat Liar") took home two Orange Blimp trophies with wins for Favorite TV Actress and Favorite Movie Actress.

"SpongeBob SquarePants" won for Favorite Cartoon, and "SpongeBob SquarePants and the Revenge of the Flying Dutchman" won for Favorite Video Game.

"Austin Powers in Goldmember" won for Favorite Movie. The Disney Channel's "Lizzie McGuire" won for Favorite TV Show, and Frankie Muniz ("Malcolm in the Middle") was named Favorite TV actor.

In music categories, Nelly and Ashanti won for Favorite Male Singer and Favorite Female Singer, respectively. No Doubt won for Favorite Band, and B2K was named Favorite Music Group. Avril Lavigne's "Sk8er Boi" was named Favorite Song.

A pair of skaters -- skateboard champion Tony Hawk and figure skating champion Michelle Kwan -- won for Favorite Male and Female Athlete, and the Los Angeles Lakers won for Favorite Sports Team.

The popular Lemony Snicket book series "A Series of Unfortunate Events" was named Favorite Book. Jennifer Love Hewitt and Jackie Chan were named Favorite Female and Male Butt Kicker, respectively.

© 2003 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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