The DGA has elected vet feature and docu film director Michael Apted to a two-year term as president to succeed Martha Coolidge.

Apted was chosen by acclamation Saturday by the 122 delegates to the guild’s national biennial convention at DGA national headquarters in Hollywood.

The delegates also tapped Coolidge by acclamation as first VP as she decided to step aside as president after serving a year filling out the unexpired term of Jack Shea. Coolidge was the first female prexy of the DGA, which reps approximately 12,800 members.

(She is expected to be in the Czech Republic in coming months to direct a Julia Stiles romantic comedy, formerly titled “The Prince and the Freshman,” a co-production between Paramount Pictures and Lions Gate Intl.)

Apted joined the DGA in 1978. He was elected to the western directors council in 1997 and the national board in 2001, and he was named fifth VP last year. He has served on the DGA independent directors committee since its inception and is currently its chair.

‘Keeper of the flame’

“The DGA is the keeper of the flame — protecting our creative rights as artists, our economic rights as workers and our very livelihoods that are under constant threat by runaway production, piracy and the theft of intellectual property made all the easier by the digital age,” Apted said. “I look forward to finding solutions to these problems and to continuing my work in attracting younger and more diverse filmmakers to the guild.”

Apted also said he plans to focus on promoting diversity and inclusion of independent filmmakers. And he hopes to maintain the DGA’s cohesive voice on key issues.

“I think directors tend to be innately organized and pragmatic,” Apted said. “We are used to handling a variety of people and complicated situations.”

Apted also plans to continue working while heading the DGA. He recently concluded shooting a “Marriage” pilot for HBO; plans to begin lensing a “Scheherezade” feature in September with Juliette Binoche, Laurence Fishburne and Gary Sinise toplining (pic’s produced by Recorded Pictures for distribution by Warner Bros. and Morgan Creek); and will continue his work on the “7 Up” docu series with “49 Up.”

“I think it’s important that the president also be a working director,” he noted.

Doc, feature credits

The helmer’s feature credits include “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “The World Is Not Enough,” “Agatha,” “Gorky Park,” “Enough” and the upcoming “Tell No One.”

Docu credits include “Bring on the Night,” “Married in America” and the “7 Up” series, which has followed the lives of 14 Britons since the age of seven in seven-year increments.

The DGA’s current three-year film-TV contract expires in July 2005. Shea retired in March 2002 after that pact was ratified; Coolidge stepped forward as a replacement.

“She led us through the recovery of a de facto strike and the restructuring of our health care plan,” national VP Ed Sherin said. “We are fortunate to have someone of Michael Apted’s talent, vision and character to assume leadership of the guild as we continue to work on the tough issues that face us now and the new challenges that lie ahead.”

Sherin, Cates re-elected

Sherin was re-elected to his post, as was secretary-treasurer Gil Cates. Also elected were second VP Steven Soderbergh, third VP Paris Barclay, fourth VP Max Schindler, fifth VP Betty Thomas, sixth VP Casey Childs and assistant secretary-treasurer Scott Berger.

Other board members tapped: Burt Bluestein, LeVar Burton, Gary Donatelli, Cheryl Downey, Taylor Hackford, Alex Hapsas, Victoria Hochberg, Jeremy Kagan, Michael Mann, John Rich and Barbara Roche. Associate board members named: Herb Adelman, Yudi Bennett, Anita Cooper-Avrick, Stephen Glanzrock and Kelly Hernacki.

Alternate board members named were John Badham, William Brady, Robert Butler, Glenn Caron, Lesli Glatter, Rod Holcomb, Randal Kleiser, Vincent Misiano, Donald Petrie, Lee Shallat Chemel, Carl Weathers and Eames Yates. Second alternate board members were David Hakim, Tom Joyner, Cleve Landsberg, Kathleen McGill, Tracey Smith and Mark Traub.