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Taylor Hackford elected president of Directors Guild without opposition

TaylorHackford Continuing its reputation as the least politicized of Hollywood's unions representing creative talent, the Directors Guild of America has selected Taylor Hackford as its new president without opposition.

Hackford was elected to a two-year term unanimously at the DGA's national convention Saturday, which is held every other year. He was the only candidate nominated after former President Michael Apted chose to step aside after serving for six years.

In a farewell letter posted on the DGA's website, Apted outlined the major challenges that Hackford will face:

Economic news remains grim, Internet piracy threatens our ability to earn a living and the next cycle of negotiations will be upon us before we know it. We are now deep into a digital age that has begun to fundamentally alter the relationship between creators and the audience.

The president of the DGA and other officers are not chosen directly by the guild's 14,000 members but by the 135 delegates they elect to represent them at the convention.

Hackford's directing credits include "Ray," for which he was nominated for an Oscar, "Proof of Life" and "An Officer and a Gentleman." He has been part of the DGA's national board of directors since 2002 and served as third vice president since 2005. He also has been chair of the guild's political action committee.

In a statement, Hackford said that his top legislative priority will be pushing for further government action to combat Internet piracy.

By late next year, however, his energies will undoubtedly turn to the DGA's contract with the Hollywood studios, which expires June 30, 2011. Contracts for the two major acting unions, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, end at the same time; the Writers Guild of America's pact expires two months earlier.

That sets up another potentially hostile showdown between Hollywood and its creative talent. The WGA went on strike in late 2007 and early 2008, primarily over payments for digital media work. The DGA, under Apted, reached an agreement with the studios during that time that ultimately provided a template for deals struck by the  WGA, SAG and AFTRA.

SAG, which recently has been the most fractious Hollywood guild, is gearing up for a new leadership election between moderates and those who think the latest agreement should have been rejected. Actor Ken Howard on Thursday announced his candidacy for president of SAG as part of a moderate slate.

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Taylord Hackford. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times.

 
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