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DGA panel urges Fanaka suspension

Director: 'They're kicking me out'

The Ethics Committee of the Directors Guild of America has recommended suspending the membership of director Jamaa Fanaka, who has had repeated confrontations with guild officers.

The committee’s decision was spelled out in a letter to Fanaka on Wednesday. To be enacted, the recommendation would have to prevail tonight in a meeting of the Western Directors’ Council and, subsequently, before the guild’s national board.

“The Ethics Committee found that the guild substantiated all the charges against you, and will recommend discipline in the form of suspension of guild membership for five of the charges,” said the letter, signed by associate general counsel Beverly S. Ware.

The five charges comprise allegations that Fanaka disrupted three of the DGA’s public events with “belligerent outbursts” and interruptions and that he “illegally taped” telephone conversations with board member and “Dick Van Dyke Show” exec producer Sheldon Leonard — who died in January 1997 — and with the guild’s chief spokesman, Chuck Warn.

Ethics Committee members also considered charges that Fanaka threatened fellow director Paris Barclay with physical harm and that he used an obscenity to refer to a panel moderator at a DGA event.

Fanaka vehemently denies all the charges. Chance to speak

In the letter, which Fanaka faxed to Daily Variety on Wednesday, the director was informed that he will be permitted to address the Western Directors’ Council tonight for 10 minutes.

During a closed-door hearing Sept. 10, the Ethics Committee contemplated expelling Fanaka but settled on the less onerous alternative of suspension; it has not yet been determined how long the suspension would last.

“They’re kicking me out,” Fanaka said Wednesday after receiving the letter. If the DGA does suspend him, he went on, he intends to sue the guild for “perjury, conspiracy and retaliation.”

“The DGA is run by a cabal,” said the 57-year-old director of “Penitentiary” and “Street Wars.” “My quarrel is not with the DGA but with the DGA leadership.”

He said the guild is persecuting him “for my efforts on behalf of minority filmmakers and minority film entrepreneurs.”