Reardon voted in at AFTRA

Will fill top role until July confab

AFTRA New York president Roberta Reardon, an actress who has worked in daytime drama, commercials and TV voice-overs, has been unanimously voted by the union's national board to serve as AFTRA national president until July.

Reardon was unopposed for the post after acting president and radio host Bob Edwards bowed out because of other commitments. Edwards had been elevated to the position in March and would have needed only board confirmation to fill the remainder of the term of the previous president, the long-serving John Connolly, who resigned to become national executive director of Actors' Equity.

AFTRA membership will elect a president to a full two-year term in July at the union's national convention in Philadelphia.

"This is a big job that I'm really excited about," Reardon said Sunday. "The entertainment and media industries are experiencing dynamic change that provides tremendous opportunities to organize new work for AFTRA members."

Also at the board meeting, directors heard a report on existing agreements related to new-media content and created a committee to study issues pertaining to future negotiation of new-media issues. No directors were immediately named to the committee, which will work with a previously named new-media staff study group, AFTRA spokesman John Hinrichs said.

Meanwhile, some AFTRA national and local board seats currently up for re-election will be filled when membership mail balloting concludes May 22.

The board results will bear watching for the number of successful candidates holding both SAG and AFTRA affiliations. Observers have suggested such dual-membership candidates are effectively wannabe SAG plants in the sister union seeking to foment dramatic change at AFTRA in areas of concern to the SAG faction identifying itself as Membership First.

AFTRA's national board met via a Los Angeles-to-New York video conference call Saturday.

"AFTRA has a history of managing change," Reardon said. "From radio to television, from broadcast to cable, from vinyl to downloads, from kinescope to videotape -- and now to iPods, vPods, webisodes and cell phones.

"The pace of change in technology is dizzying. AFTRA's mission is to be responsive to those changes," she said. "The key is to ensure that professional performers have a foot in the door in the new modes of production. Our contracts will grow as those businesses grow."

Edwards will resume his previous position of national first vp. Reardon had been national second vp in addition to heading the New York branch of the 70,000-member performers union.