Kansas City Strip

Attack Ads: If local commercials look a little ragged lately, chalk it up to the six-month-old strike of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). Since May 1, when the unions struck radio and TV advertisers for fair compensation from cable and Internet broadcasts, Kansas City’s acting and voice-over industries have been on pause. Members of the Actors’ Equity union who do commercials are honoring the strike as well. “It’s getting ugly,” says Cathy Barnett.

Barnett’s Equity membership forbids her from filming new spots for Rensen House of Lights or any of her other local clients. “They expect this to go through the winter and, because this isn’t like a transportation stoppage, nobody gives a shit. But it’s difficult when it’s your bread and butter.”

The unions have been stymied by the advertisers’ unwillingness to bargain. When Richard Dreyfuss asked for support on The Rosie O’Donnell Show two weeks ago, he cited McDonald’s, General Motors, and General Mills, among others, as corporations that were shooting in Canada rather than negotiating.

“Some production studios have shut down, and in Kansas City we’re really feeling the effects,” says Shawn Mullane, owner of the talent agency Exposure. “For example, a Missouri Lottery spot was supposed to shoot but got shut down.”

“Cautious optimism” was raised last week when talks went into the third day, says Don Scott, executive director of AFTRA Local 213. Any progress would be good news to the roughly 200 members who do commercial broadcast work in Kansas City.

At least one homegrown celebrity isn’t having trouble finding work. On August 1, Tommy Hilfiger launched a new campaign featuring Lee’s Summit native Angela Lindvall. Hilfiger’s earnings tanked last year, and he’s betting on Lindvall to bolster the new “classic, nouveau preppy” line.

Lindvall is considered by fashion insiders to be “the next big thing” and was nominated for Model of the Year at last fall’s VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards — against such competition as Gisele Bundchen, Leonardo DiCaprio‘s latest accessory. Lindvall is the tall blonde in the new Hilfiger commercials on VH1, ESPN, and Comedy Central.

Still think she’s not all that? Lindvall is a nominee for the October 20 fashion awards, along with luminaries Cameron Diaz, Nicole Kidman, and Jude Law.

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