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3 items from 2009

MembershipFirst Fills Cassel's Seat

15 December 2009 7:04 AM, PST | | See recent Backstage news »

Jeff Austin was appointed to the Screen Actors Guild's national board of directors by the guild's Hollywood division board at a meeting Dec. 14. Variety originally reported the news. A call to SAG confirmed the appointment.Austin, a member of the hardline MembershipFirst faction, takes the seat left vacant by ousted national board member Seymour Cassel, who was removed from the board in October and suspended from the guild for two years. Cassel had been found guilty by an internal SAG trial board of "conduct unbecoming a member" in relation to the sexual harassment of guild staffers.The appointment gives MembershipFirst, which controls the Hollywood board, another vote on the national board, where the moderate faction led by president Ken Howard holds the majority. »

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Catching Up With... Yonder Mountain String Band

2 September 2009 8:45 AM, PDT | | See recent PasteMagazine news »

In Yonder Mountain String Band, where improvisational jams are the axis around which the group's entire live show turns, a comfortable, all-contributing dynamic is essential. With Adam Aijala’s guitar work, Dave Johnston’s banjo picking, Ben Kaufmann on bass and Jeff Austin on mandolin, the Yonder Mountain boys have found a formula that works: Take rootsy bluegrass influences, add in some rock ‘n’ roll, and seek out an adventurous audience. Following yesterday's (Sept. 1) release of his band's fifth studio album, The Show, Austin found some time in between entertaining house guests and a busy tour schedule to catch up with Paste and discuss the recording studio as a playground, the "jam band" label, and how much Yonder Mountain isn’t like Wilco. »

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Three Membership First Candidates Elected to AFTRA Boards

3 June 2009 11:37 PM, PDT | Digital Media Law | See recent Digital Media Law news »

The AFTRA Los Angeles results are in. Many candidates were reelected, but new winners include two Membership First leaders—SAG 1st VP Anne-Marie Johnson (AFTRA national board) and former SAG Hollywood Board member David Jolliffe (AFTRA Los Angeles local board)—as well as Membership First member Alan Ruck (AFTRA national board). They join several Mf stalwarts already on the national board (not sure about the La local board).

Johnson and Jolliffe bring a particularly interesting dynamic to the AFTRA boards. Johnson, for instance, in a recent video described running for the AFTRA board as “really distasteful for me” and accused AFTRA of leech[ing] off of [SAG].” Jolliffe, for his part, told me in an interview last summer that SAG was the “one union for actors.” These remarks certainly make one skeptical of their intentions as they join the AFTRA boards.

I'm told by a source that even with these new board members, »

- (Jonathan Handel)

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