The Directors Guild of America has certainly earned the right to preen over having carved out a historic new agreement with the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers. But do the writers deserve some of the credit for helping the directors get what they want out of their new three-year deal? Some writers are asking whether their crippling 11-week strike provided the necessary level of urgency to convince studio honchos Peter Chernin and Bob Iger to become more intimately involved in the DGA talks — something the moguls didn’t do when the WGA first sat down with the AMPTP in November. That duo’s presence certainly helped cooler heads prevail in the DGA negotiating room, marking a stark contrast to the routine clashes that occurred between the chief negotiators of the AMPTP and the WGA (Nick Counter and David Young) before their talks broke off Dec. 7.
Still, the DGA deserves a tremendous pat on the back for having achieved a swift resolution, says one high-placed source at the conglomerates. For one, the DGA prepared for the talks by commissioning a two-year study on new media that ultimately helped pave the way for negotiating some of the stickier issues, like new residual rates for ad-supported streaming and use of clips on the Internet. The DGA also benefitted from the strong, longterm ties that negotiating committee member Gil Cates has with the companies.
Now it appears Chernin and Iger may play an equally active role in the WGA negotiations. In a joint statement released Thursday, the moguls – along with six other CEOs – seemed to indicate their role will change by saying “we invite the WGA to engage with us in a series of informal discussions similar to the productive process that led us to a deal with the DGA to determine whether there is a reasonable basis for returning to formal bargaining.”