It never got the press of, say, Biggie and Tupac, but there has been a longstanding East Coast-West Coast rivalry between the two groups that hand out Emmy awards.

It now appears that the feud is coming to an end.

The Los Angeles-based Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the New York-based National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences have agreed to work together more closely in the future on marketing and sponsorship efforts and other areas of common interest. The two academies will retain separate memberships and oversight of separate awards.

The split between ATAS, which hands out the Primetime Emmys, and NATAS, responsible for the daytime, news and sports Emmys, dates back to a 1977 struggle over which branch would hold sway in the academy. The reconciliation came together in recent months, mostly at the hands of the two academies’ CEOs, Dick Askin and Dennis Swanson.

“It’s been our hope to find a way to end a long pattern of friction,” NATAS CEO Swanson says in a statement. “With this new spirit of cooperation, we will find constructive ways to further our common goal, which is recognizing excellence in television.”

As part of the agreement, the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences – which awards Emmys for programs abroad – will come under the Los Angeles academy’s umbrella. The two groups will meet later in the year to hash out ways to make the partnership work.

FX COMES TO “RESCUE’ WITH LEARY

FX has ordered a season’s worth of “Rescue Me,” a sardonic one-hour drama about New York City firefighters.

Denis Leary, who played a New York cop in “The Job,” will star in the series, which he’s also executive producing with Peter Tolan and Jim Serpico. Leary and Tolan wrote the pilot episode, which Tolan will also direct.

Production is scheduled to begin in April in New York. A premiere date hasn’t been set for the show, which is FX’s third original drama, following “The Shield” and “Nip/Tuck.”

“It’s about time there is a show that looks at the lives and great work of New York City firefighters and what goes on beneath the surface of the job you see,” Leary says. “I am excited to portray a firefighter.”

Leary will play Tommy Gavin, a recently divorced firefighter who’s also coping with fear of his job in the wake of 9/11. While trying to keep that a secret from his co-workers, he moves in across the street from his ex-wife – both to keep an eye on her and to spend more time with their three children.

A number of Leary’s friends and relatives are firefighters, and he says he’ll draw on them for some of “Rescue Me’s” stories and characters. The comic is also the founder of the Leary Firefighters Foundation, which was created after a 1999 blaze in Leary’s hometown of Worcester, Mass., killed six firefighters, including a cousin and a childhood friend. The foundation provides money to local fire departments and individual firefighters and their families.

Joining Leary in the cast are Andrea Roth (“Lucky”), former real-life firefighter Jack McGee, Mike Lombardi (“Contest Searchlight”), Stephen Pasquale (“Platinum”), Daniel Sunjata (“Law & Order: SVU”), John Scurti and Michael Mulheren.



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AP-NY-01-23-04 1641EST


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