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June 14, 2008 at 2:35 PM
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Jon Voight to play new '24' villain

LOS ANGELES, June 14 (UPI) -- Actor Jon Voight has signed on to play the newest villain to threaten the innocent in the popular action TV series "24," The Hollywood Reporter says.

The entertainment publication reported Friday the "Coming Home" star will play the mastermind of a terrorist threat "24" star Kiefer Sutherland's character will attempt to thwart in the series' seventh season.

A prequel for the newest season of the Fox series is being shot in South Africa and is to be aired Nov. 23. The seventh season, meanwhile, will officially start in January 2009.

The New York Daily News reported Saturday the role will mark Voight's first TV role since he appeared in "Gunsmoke," "N.Y.P.D." and "Cimarron Strip."

The newspaper said Voight will be joined in the upcoming season by new "24" cast members Janeane Garofalo, Annie Wersching, John Billingsley, Jeffrey Nordling and Rhys Coiro.


Pinsky apologizes for Cruise comments

LOS ANGELES, June 14 (UPI) -- Dr. Drew Pinsky is sorry for suggesting that Hollywood star Tom Cruise may be the victim of childhood trauma, the "Celebrity Rehab" star said.

Pinsky issued an apology through a representative for saying in an article for Playboy magazine that Cruise's outspoken support of Scientology may be due to a traumatic event in his childhood, The Daily Mail newspaper in Britain said.

Pinsky also addressed a personal attack from Cruise's lawyer, Bert Fields, after his comments went public.

"Although Mr. Fields' intent is clearly to slander and discredit Dr. Drew, under no circumstances is Dr. Drew making a blanket diagnosis about Scientology nor Mr. Cruise whom he does not know," Pinsky said through his representative.

Fields had strongly opposed Pinsky's suggestion of childhood trauma in the "Mission Impossible" star's past and even compared the "Rehab" doctor to a notorious Nazi official, the Daily Mail reported.

"The last time we heard garbage like this was from (Nazi propaganda head) Joseph Goebbels," Fields said.


SAG battle impeding labor talks

LOS ANGELES, June 14 (UPI) -- A labor battle prompted by Screen Actors Guild officials is distracting the union from its ongoing contract talks with top U.S. studios, industry experts say.

Labor attorney Al Latham said the decision by top SAG officials to campaign against the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists contract has impeded the guild's attempt to extend its labor contract with studios, the Los Angeles Times said Saturday.

"I've never heard of a dual membership situation where one union is saying to vote down the contract of another," Latham said. "This is novel."

AFTRA officials reached a deal with studio executives this month on a new contract despite requests from their SAG counterparts to delay any new labor deals.

The guild's current studio contract is set to expire on June 30 and talks between the two sides have not resulted in an extension.

Despite the labor conflict, AFTRA negotiator Matt Kimbrough wished his fellow union officials good luck in future talks.

"They treat us like an enemy rather than a sister union," Kimgrough told the Times. "We hope that SAG gets a good deal and, if they improve on it, that is a testament to their negotiating skills."


Christian theater focus of conference

AZUSA, Calif., June 14 (UPI) -- Ways to blend Christianity with theater performances is the focus of a four-day conference at California's Azusa Pacific University, attendees say.

Playwright Wayne Harrel, who was among the nearly 100 people who gathered at the Christians in Theatre Arts conference, said he attempts to infuse his works with his beliefs without forcing them upon viewers, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

"I try to write for a broad public," Harrel said. "I hope they feel the way I do, but it's their call. I don't want to dictate."

The conference, which ended Friday, was aimed at helping participants learn ways to use their writing, acting or singing abilities to introduce Christian ideals to theater crowds.

The Times said the gathering involved workshops with titles such as "Staging Christian Classics" and "Theater in Worship," all aimed at creating good theater with a Christian background.

"We are trying to nurture good plays but written by people who have a particular view of life that happens to be consistent with the Christian outlook of the world," theater professor Joseph Frost said. "But the idea is that it is still a good play and not a good play because it espouses this."

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