W.G.A. Leaders Get Tough on Talks

Oh, things are shaking up in the writers’ talks! Studios and the Writers Guild of America seemed to be finally making progress in their closed-door negotiation sessions, but Phil Alden Robinson, writer and director of Field of Dreams and a member of the governing board of the Writers Guild of America West, has publicly called for a toughened bargaining position, according to today’s New York Times. "I’ve been doing some hard thinking about the D.G.A. deal," Mr. Robinson wrote in the post (read it here). He is also a member of the D.G.A. “It’s my strong conviction that if an unaltered D.G.A. deal were put before our membership for a vote today, it would fail resoundingly,” he wrote.

His critique was posted Tuesday on a Web site called United Hollywood and linked on the guild’s site, and came despite a news blackout and an earlier request by the guild’s president, Patric M. Verrone, that members show restraint during ticklish informal talks that may lead to a resumption of formal negotiations.

That development came amid some reduction in the good will from a Friday peace-making dinner that matched Mr. Verrone and his chief lieutenant, David J. Young, with Leslie Moonves, chief executive of CBS, and his labor relations chief, Harry Isaacs.

Mr. Moonves has learned that Mr. Young, on the day of their dinner, invited Wall Street analysts to hear a negative presentation about his company. In a letter dated Jan. 25, Mr. Young asked CBS investors to a Feb. 5 session in New York. Guild leaders promised to discuss then what they say are dimming prospects for CBS, and to point out what they see as “conflicts of interest in the governance” of the company, because of its overlapping ownership with Viacom.

In his Web post, Mr. Robinson criticized provisions in the contract between the Directors Guild of America and the producers. He urged writers to tell their negotiators — “loudly and clearly” — of their displeasure with some provisions, including a plan to pay a $1,200 residual for the right to stream ad-supported television shows on the Internet for a year.


  W.G.A. Leaders Get Tough on Talks