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December 13, 2007 at 12:00 PM EST

After months of postponing their own contract talks while the striking writers tried to negotiate a deal, the Directors Guild of America sent up a flare today saying that it’s all but ready to meet with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers after the first of the year. In a letter to his fellow directors, DGA President Michael Apted (pictured) said the union “can’t abdicate its responsibility” to promptly renegotiate their contract set to expire June 30. The DGA routinely hammers out its deal with the companies early, but this time “held off for months in order to give the writers a chance to make a deal,” Apted said. It’s long been believed that the DGA would commence talks early, though some speculate that there is a portion of the membership that would rather wait even longer, out of respect for the writers.

“But now, with no end to the current impasse in sight, we find ourselves having to ask the hard question: Is it now our turn to sit across from the AMPTP?” the letter states. “In order to give the WGA and the AMPTP one last chance to get back to the table, we will not schedule our negotiations to begin until after the New Year, and then only if an appropriate basis for negotiations can be established. If it can, then the DGA will commence formal talks with the AMPTP in the hope that our bargaining strength and fresh perspective can help achieve a good and fair outcome for all concerned.”

The SAG contract also expires in June, but the actors — who are showing solidarity with the writers by joining them on the picket lines — are not expected to begin their talks until the WGA gets a deal.

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