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Coolidge new head of DGA

HOLLYWOOD — The DGA’s national board has tapped Martha Coolidge as its first female president in its 66-year history to replace Jack Shea, who announced his resignation Saturday.

“I am extremely honored to succeed Jack Shea as president of the Directors Guild,” Coolidge said. “Jack’s guidance has been a huge inspiration to me and, as president, I look forward to continuing the DGA’s tradition of strong leadership.”

Move by Shea, who was in his third two-year term, was not a surprise following last month’s ratification of a new three-year contract by the 12,400 DGA members. He noted that it was appropriate to step down at this point since he had indicated last year he would do so once the new contract was in place.

“It has been a tradition at the DGA for the president to only serve two terms,” Shea said. “At our national convention last June, I advised the delegates that I would run for a third term, in order to provide continuity of leadership for our upcoming contract negotiations. The delegates agreed that this was best for the guild, and I was re-elected by acclamation.”

Shea’s tenure as president included the negotiation of two new basic contracts, a strong push to seek solutions to the problem of runaway production, the pressuring of networks and studios to hire more female and minority directors execs and an agreement with the Writers Guild last year to voluntary guidelines giving scribes more involvement in the creative process, including improved access to film sets.

Shea and Coolidge, who had been serving as 1st VP, received warm receptions Saturday night when the moves were announced to the 1,600 attendees at the guild’s 54th annual awards ceremonies. Presenter Halle Berry, noting that she had enjoyed working with Coolidge on “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge,” told the crowd, “Girls go, yes!”

Coolidge said after the ceremonies that her major goal will be reaching out to as many sectors of the DGA membership as possible in order to deal effectively with the fast-paced shifts within the entertainment business. “This is not a guild that’s been rocked by disunity,” she added. “We need to be able to address how new technology is changing the industry.”

The DGA board also elected Steven Soderbergh to replace Coolidge as 1st VP and Taylor Hackford, who was serving as an alternate board member, to take Soderbergh’s position on the board.

Coolidge has served as DGA 1st VP since 1995 and has been co-chair of the guild’s Creative Rights Committee since 1992. She joined the DGA in 1983 and was tapped for the Western Directors Council the next year and the national board in 1991.

Coolidge’s directing credits include “Valley Girl,” “Real Genius,” Rambling Rose,” Out to Sea,” “Lost in Yonkers” and “Angie.” She has been nominated for the DGA Award for TV movies for “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” and “If These Walls Could Talk 2.”

Coolidge also received the 1992 Crystal Award from Women in Film and is the 1998 recipient of the DGA’s Robert B. Aldrich Award for service to the guild and its membership.

Shea’s credits include extensive directing of series TV such as “The Jeffersons,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “Designing Women,” “Growing Pains,” “The Waltons” and “Sanford and Son.”

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