Directors Guild, studios reach contract deal
Thursday, January 17, 2008; 9:39 PM
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Hollywood directors' union reached a contract deal with major film and TV studios on Thursday in a move likely to renew momentum for settling a 10-week-old writers strike that has crippled the industry and clouded the year-end Oscar season.
The studios' tentative three-year labor pact with the Directors Guild of America (DGA) includes provisions to pay union members more for work distributed over the Internet -- a key sticking point in stalled contract talks with the writers.
But leaders of the Writers Guild of America (WGA), which has been on strike since November 5, said they needed to analyze terms of the DGA agreement before deciding whether they could serve as template for their own settlement.
The directors' deal came five days after contract talks began, following weeks of informal discussions with the studios -- and months of economic research by the union -- to lay the groundwork for official negotiations.
The studios' bargaining arm, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, immediately invited the Writers Guild to engage in a similar round of "informal discussions ... to determine whether there is a reasonable basis for returning to formal bargaining."The last round of WGA negotiations collapsed on December 7 when the writers' union refused studios' demand to withdraw several of its proposals as a condition for continued bargaining.
WGA West President Patric Verrone said he welcomed the latest olive branch extended by the studios, but added, "They walked away from the table."
"Ultimately, to put this town back to work, we have to make a deal that ends the strike," he told Reuters.
Directors Guild leaders were considerably more upbeat.
"Two words describe this agreement -- groundbreaking and substantial," said Gil Cates, who chairs the DGA's negotiating committee and is the producer of the upcoming Oscar telecast. "The gains in this contract for directors and their teams are extraordinary -- and there are no rollbacks of any kind."
The DGA's existing contract covering 13,000 members, including directors, assistant directors and unit production managers, expires on June 30.
The directors have a history of reaching swift labor pacts with the studios, but the latest deal has drawn unusually intense scrutiny because of its implications for ending a strike by the Writers Guild.
Some 10,500 screenwriters walked off the job on November 5, shattering 20 years of Hollywood labor peace in a dispute that centered on writers' demands for a greater share of revenues from film and TV content on the Internet.
The writers strike has taken an enormous toll on the entertainment industry. Much of U.S. television production has ground to a halt, major film projects have been derailed and Hollywood award ceremonies have been scaled back or canceled.
With the writers threatening to picket next month's Oscar ceremony, and many actors expected to boycott the event if they do, even the film industry's highest honors have been jeopardized.
The Directors Guild deal contains several points addressing how directors should be compensated for work in new media, including provisions that essentially double the rate now paid for Internet downloads of movies and TV shows, the union said.
It also sets new "residual" fees for the reuse of material in the form of advertising-supported online streaming and video clips, and requires studios to work with union directors on content produced specially for the Internet, the union said.
One studio executive familiar with the deal said it was "significantly" more generous than what was offered writers.But a veteran entertainment lawyer with ties to both sides of the labor talks, Jonathan Handel, said the terms on new media fall short of what the writers were seeking.
SOURCE: Washington Post
Bobdoc of MEFB forum posted this tidbit from http://www.nationalledger.com/artman/
|THE VIDEOLAND VIEW: Emmy-winning actor Michael Emerson still maintains a hero lies within the ruthless, antagonistic Ben Linus (leader of "the Others") he plays on "Lost," which is returning for its fourth season Jan. 31. The troupe was only able to shoot eight episodes before the writers' strike, but Emerson says after shooting those segments, he's more convinced than ever that the end Ben is working toward justifies his ruthless means.|
"I feel it even more strongly that Ben is in a position to save life on this planet," says Emerson. "It's a show about parables. People say to me they were disappointed when they realized the island wasn't purgatory, and I'm here to say it is a place where people can process pasts and are tested, so in a very real way, it's still a purgatory story as a parable or metaphor."
Emerson says the writers' strike has left him feeling "we're in our own show biz purgatory -- reflecting on the sins of our past, wondering if we'll ever come up into the light. I'm just hanging out in New York wondering what the next move will be. It would be so nice to finish this season. The promise of the first half is really strong. It's like a derailed train. Everybody's in high gear to do the work and unable to do anything else." Even if the strike were over in time to salvage the second half of the season, he notes the troupe would have to "come back from scratch. The crew's all gone. The only people still connected to the show are the cast, and even that will wear away if the strike goes on too long. They either pay you or cut you loose."
Well the statement started me thinking. The strike is going on way too long. The CEOs just don't give a shit. Why don't they give a shit? Because they are not feeling any loss. People are still watching television; commercials are still being sold. Reality shows are taking over and, I, as much as I am mesmerized by them (I admit, I am a lunatic who loves wife swap, the nanny shows—love those bratty kids—etc.) now avoid them. I don't want to support the CEOs and give them a reason not to discuss an end to the writer's strike.
I also love talk shows. My favorites are The View and The Late Night Show with David Letterman. Why? Because those two are not affected by the strikers. The View has no writers and David Letterman settled the strike with his workers. Not only did he settle the strike with them, but he was paying them while they were striking. Hey, this man went up a lot of notches in my book.
I miss my shows. I miss Pushing Daisies, Samantha Who?, Two and Half Men, Jericho, Desperate Housewives, and of course, LOST. LOST is coming on soon, but only 8 episodes. I want to watch all 16 of them, this season, with all the actors who where hired previously. I don’t want a different Locke, Jack, Kate, or even Ben. But if the strike goes on, who can stop the actors from looking elsewhere? Michael Emerson is a stage actor. He’d be a fool not to accept a role on Broadway, off-Broadway, or way off-Broadway. I want to learn what happened to the LOSTies by watching the show. I don’t want to read about it or see it in the movies.
Something must be done to expedite the talks. If we don’t, we will soon have to face the actors’s strike as well. What can we do as an audience? Maybe stop watching the shows. Let the advertisers know that there is no show without writers. We must do something. I do my share, but I am but one person. I don’t watch Jimmy Kimmel Live. He was my favorite night-time talk-show host. But he is performing sans writers. Hence, I don’t watch him. I am happy to watch David Letterman. Kudos for you, David. You are a good man!!!!
Tomorrow: WGA Rally in New York
Mon Nov 26, 2007 at 02:32:10 PM PST
If you're in the New York area and support the WGA in its strike for fair payment for work distributed by new media, here's an opportunity to show your support in person.
Tomorrow - Tuesday, November 27 - Noon to 1:30. Washington Square Park
And notice the list of people who will be in attendance, from Aasif Mandvi to John Edwards.
As the WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA STRIKE ENTERS ITS FOURTH WEEK, Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) members will again be on the picket lines instead of at work, writing sitcoms, primetime dramas, daytime soap operas, late night television shows, entertainment/ talk shows, reality shows, movies, and more.
In a major show of support by the city’s labor community, the WGAE is holding a massive SOLIDARITY RALLY on TUESDAY, NOV. 27TH. The rally’s message is "We’re all in this together, and we demand a fair deal!"
WHERE AND WHEN:
Tuesday, November 27th – WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK
12:00 NOON – 1:30 PM
Nearly 1,000 people expected to be on hand. Joining the striking WGAE members at the rally will be: Senator John Edwards, Congressman Jerry Nadler, Tim Robbins, Michael Emerson, Joe Pantoliano, Colin Quinn, Aasif Mandvi, Tony Goldwyn, Evan Handler, Gilbert Gottfried, Randi Weingarten (UFT), Ed Ott (Central Labor Council), Gary Lebarbera and Denis M. Hughes (NYS AFL-CIO), Sam Freed (SAG NY President), Richard Masur (former national president of SAG), WGAE leaders, and more. Interview opportunities will be available.
Also on hand will be members of the WGAW, SEIU, SAG, UNITE-HERE, UFT, national and NYS AFL-CIOs, and the New York City Central Labor Council.
SOURCE: The Daily Kos