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AFTRA Prepares for 60th National Convention in Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA, July 13, 2005 – The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) will convene its 60th National Convention at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel tomorrow, Thursday, July 14. The Convention, AFTRA’s highest governing body comprised of hundreds of delegates from across the country, will continue through Saturday evening, July 16.

Guest Speakers
Opening ceremonies on Thursday will feature guest speakers including newly-elected Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Johnny Grant, Honorary Mayor of Hollywood, and Martin Ludlow, Interim Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Friday’s session will include remarks by keynote speaker FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps; State Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and State Senators Sheila Kuehl and Kevin Murray. In addition to acting on a number of resolutions, the Convention will elect the union’s National officers and hear reports by AFTRA National President John P. Connolly and recently-named National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth.

Strategic Planning
At the top of this week’s agenda, AFTRA continues its ongoing strategic planning initiated to position itself to meet the challenges and exploit the opportunities presented by the rapidly change media industry. Chiefly, the delegates will be asked to consider two constitutional amendments. The first eliminates the requirement that the National office be headquartered in Manhattan, providing for the option of a possible relocation. The second is a measure that reduces the size of the National Board from its current 116 members to 73, plus elected officers. These two elements, aimed at streamlining the union’s operations and increasing overall flexibility, were approved by the National Board in July 2004 and reaffirmed at it April 30 plenary session earlier this year.

"Technological development and corporate mergers have totally transformed the environment in which AFTRA members work creating a veritable explosion in jobs, and this Convention will continue AFTRA’s ongoing work to confront those issues directly," said President Connolly at AFTRA’s National Board Plenary held on Tuesday July 12, two days before the Convention. "We are committed to engaging in a serious and disciplined way with the fundamental changes in our working lives and in doing so we must challenge our own assumptions – our ‘sacred cows’ – and change them when necessary to succeed. This is all about seizing opportunities for working professional performers in an expanding industry."

A highlight of the week will be the presentation of the third annual AFTRA Media and Entertainment Excellence Awards (The AMEEs), celebrating the artistry, integrity, diversity of AFTRA members in the areas of entertainment, sound recordings, broadcasting. The award ceremony will take place the opening night of the Convention, Thursday, July 14, at the Hollywood Museum.

Award recipients will be: Susan Flannery, Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning star of the CBS daytime series, "The Bold and The Beautiful"; Patti Austin, world-famous vocalist, composer, recording artist, and Grammy Award nominee; Robert Hager, NBC News correspondent, who has reported from Vietnam, Berlin, the Middle East, and across the globe for more than four decades; Don Hastings, actor/writer, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, who celebrates 43 years on the daytime series, "As The World Turns"; rising star of television and film, Emmy and Golden Glove nominated, Amber Tamblyn, critically acclaimed for her starring role on the AFTRA TV series, "Joan of Arcadia."

Award winning news broadcaster and 2004 AMEE honoree, Bob Edwards, will host the evening. Veteran actor Russ Tamblyn will present the award to his daughter, Amber, and other presenters include National Board members Patrika Darbo from "Days of Our Lives," and Jason George, currently starring on the hit UPN series, "Eve."

The Convention will continue on Saturday with National officer elections and conclude that evening.

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists – affiliated with the AFL-CIO – is a diverse national union representing over 70,000 professional performers, broadcasters, and recording artists in 32 Locals throughout the country. AFTRA members work as actors, broadcast journalists, dancers, singers, announcers, hosts, comedians, and disc jockeys in aspects of the media industries including television and radio, sound recordings, commercials, non-broadcast/industrials, interactive games, and the Internet. For more information, visit AFTRA online at

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