Studios, Directors Begin Informal Contract Talks

The Directors Guild of America has begun informal contract talks with producers, raising stakes in the WGA strike. Sources said it appears the informal talks could last well into next week. But once the informal phase is over, formal negotiations will start almost immediately and an official announcement will be made. New-media residuals — or how writers should be compensated when their work is reused over the Internet or mobile platforms — represent the central issue in the WGA’s showdown with studios. The DGA also is expected to focus on new media and has gathered exhaustive research on the subject, according to Reuters.

With its focus turned to the DGA talks, the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP) has little incentive to seek an accommodation with the Writers Guild of America (WGA), which has been on strike since November 5.

The situation still could implode if the AMPTP fails to assure DGA brass that the union will be rewarded for entering early contract talks. The DGA is under contract through June 30, but the guild has a history of negotiating new contracts about six months early and has signaled an interest in commencing formal talks soon.
The AMPTP would love for the DGA to do just that, if only to show that at least one Hollywood labor organization is willing to engage with the studio organization.