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Michael Jeter (1952-2003)

Michael Jeter, the slight character actor who won a supporting actor Emmy as a shrimpy assistant football coach on CBS's Evening Shade and was known on Sesame Street as The Other Mr. Noodle, has died. He was 50.

Jeter's body was found in his Hollywood Hills home on Mar. 30. According to Dick Guttman, the actor's publicist, Jeter, who was HIV-positive but had been in good health, apparently died of natural causes.

Jeter was filming the Christmas movie The Polar Express. Although not all of his work was complete, Guttman said the producers believe there is enough footage to preserve Jeter's role in the film.

On Evening Shade, Jeter played the blustery assistant football coach Herman Stiles opposite the calm, paternal lead character played by Burt Reynolds. During the show's run, 1990-'94, Jeter was nominated for a supporting actor Emmy three times and won in 1992. He later had notable film roles as a kindhearted mental patient in 1998's Patch Adams, a mouse-loving prisoner in 1999's The Green Mile, and a dinosaur-hunting mercenary in Jurassic Park III.

Jeter started as a stage actor and won a 1990 supporting actor Tony Award as provincial German Jewish bookkeeper Otto Kringelein in the musical Grand Hotel.

Jeter grew up in Lawrenceburg, Tenn., and studied acting at Memphis State University. He had roles in the 1979 film musical Hair, and a friend, actor William Devane, got him a recurring role on the TV drama From Here to Eternity, which ran from 1979-'80.

Jeter continued working in theatre while playing small roles in films such as Ragtime, Zelig, and The Money Pit. He suffered from two bouts of drug and alcohol abuse before deciding the irregular life of a performer was too much for him.

He learned to type, studied word processing software programs, and became a legal secretary—abandoning acting until a casting director sought him out in 1987. He was offered a small role as a homeless man in Designing Women, made by the same people who would later produce Evening Shade. That pushed Jeter back into theatre, which led to steady television and film roles.

—Associated Press

SAG Split Over Numbers

Could it be that the Screen Actors Guild's leadership is dealing in fuzzy math? Some in the Guild seem to think so.

As part of an online presentation regarding the proposed consolidation with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, SAG communicated to its members on Mar. 27 that the Guild was facing a $6 million deficit for fiscal 2003. But according to sources with knowledge of SAG's finances, that figure is inflated, and in reality SAG's deficit is about $2.3 million—less than half the figure used in the online presentation.

SAG leadership is in the midst of a membership educational campaign that is touting cost cutting, increased bargaining leverage, and an end to jurisdictional rifts with AFTRA as reasons to endorse the proposed consolidation. In the past few weeks SAG leaders have come under fire for overplaying their hand in trying to sell the deal to members.

The reduced figure was disclosed at a finance committee meeting last week. The numbers for the presentation were provided by SAG's finance department and were reported to the board at a Feb. 8 meeting. "The $6 million figure was the projection in the budget approved by the board for the fiscal year ending Apr. 30, 2003," SAG deputy national executive director Pamm Fair said. "We have implemented many cost-saving efficiency measures as part of restructuring, and we are hopeful that the projected deficit will be reduced. The last quarter has not been calculated, but the actual number will be reported at the April meeting along with next year's budget. Once those number are reported, the website will be amended to reflect the actual numbers."

—Peter Kiefer (The Hollywood Reporter)

Off the Wire…

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA—Deaf West Theatre has been chosen to receive the 2003 Actors' Equity Rosetta LeNoire Award. The annual award, which pays tribute to those who have made "outstanding artistic contributions to the universality of the human experience in the American Theatre," will be given to Ed Waterstreet, artistic director of Deaf West Theatre, in a ceremony on Apr. 4 at Actors' Equity's Los Angeles headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard…

Executive producer Z. Clark Branson has named Jessica Kubzansky and Michael Michetti co-artistic directors of the theatrical production arm of the new Boston Court performing arts complex, a $5 million project under construction and nearing completion at Mentor Avenue and Boston Court in Pasadena. Kubzansky has directed award-winning theatre productions in Washington, D.C., New York, Boston, Edinburgh and other major cities, but her home base is Los Angeles, where she's directed at such diverse venues as the Mark Taper Forum, Playwrights' Arena, International City Theatre, Laguna Playhouse, La Mirada Theatre, A Noise Within, The Odyssey, and Pacific Resident Theatre, among others. Michetti has directed at L.A. theatres large and small, including Pasadena Playhouse, La Mirada Theatre, the Matrix, CLO of South Bay Cities, Circle X, International City Theatre, and Hermosa Beach Playhouse. Designed as an architectural showplace, the Boston Court performing arts complex will also stage family fare, musical programs, and perform in service to the local community through educational and outreach programs, workshops, and special residencies.

—Rosa Fernandez

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