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.
"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
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.
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.
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