Guild turns to vet exec as director for H'wood branch

Leaders of the Screen Actors Guild have taken the first step toward naming veteran guild communications exec Ilyanne Kichaven as executive director of the Hollywood branch, a post that’s been vacant for more than four years.

SAG’s Hollywood board approved the promotion of Kichaven, currently national director of communications, at a meeting Tuesday night, with the proviso that SAG’s national board also OK the action.

Kichaven’s appointment as SAG’s No. 2 exec may run into some resistance at the national board due to ongoing feuding between the Membership First faction — which dominates the Hollywood board — and United Screen Actors Nationwide, which draws its support from New York members and the other 18 branches. The more assertive Membership First side has a slim majority on the national board thanks to gains in September’s elections.

SAG made no official announcement Wednesday about Kichaven, who has been SAG’s public voice on hundreds of occasions in the past five years.

Should the national board approve, Kichaven would be the first to hold the post of Hollywood exec director since Leonard Chassman retired in 2001. Chassman had headed the Hollywood branch, which serves about 60% of SAG’s 110,000 members, since 1984.

Membership First has been pushing to fill the post, but did not have the political clout to follow through until this fall’s elections.

If approved, Kichaven will face a daunting task. Although factionalism has been a constant, bitter feelings have escalated since Alan Rosenberg became president in September. The SAG board fired SAG CEO Greg Hessinger and three other execs in late October; USAN leaders recently went to the U.S. Dept. of Labor seeking to invalidate Rosenberg’s election amid allegations of inappropriate use of emails.

Kichaven was hired in 2001 as associate director of communications after a year of work as a SAG consultant working on the media planning and campaigns for the six-month commercials strike and the 2001 film-TV negotiations.

Before joining SAG, Kichaven operated her own marketing/promotional consulting firm, IMK Inc., with clients including Columbia TriStar, Cowboy Booking Intl., Merchant Ivory Films, Artistic License, Strand Releasing, First Look Releasing and Zeitgeist Films. She also held exec slots at Overseas Filmgroup/First Look Pictures, Hemdale Film Corp., 21st Century Film Corp., New Regency Entertainment, Stephen J. Cannell Prods. and Lorimar.

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