Directors Guild May Start Contract Talks After New Year’s

Expressing concern about the “dire” ongoing TV writers strike, the Directors Guild of America Thursday said it may start talks with TV and film studios after New Year’s.

The DGA’s contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers expires June 30. And the Writers Guild of America, which has been on strike against the AMPTP since Nov. 5, had asked the directors to delay starting their contract negotiations until the writers settle their strike.

But the TV and film directors apparently won’t wait any longer, and they plan to go to the bargaining table with the studios before the six-week-old writers’ strike ends.

“Although the DGA has a long history of early negotiations, this year we held off starting our own formal talks with the AMPTP for two months out of respect for our sister guild,” DGA president Michael Apted and negotiations chairman Gil Cates said in a statement Thursday. “Instead, we watched the writers’ negotiations closely while preparing for our turn at bat.”

The DGA said it was “deeply disappointed” that talks between the writers and studios had broken down last Friday, with no end in sight for the strike and the situation now “dire,” according to the statement.

“The WGA-AMPTP impasse has cost the jobs of tens of thousands of entertainment-industry workers, including many of our own members, and more lose their jobs every day the strike continues,” the DGA said.

“With so much at stake and no end to the standoff in sight, we can no longer abdicate our responsibility to our own members. Because we want to give the WGA and the AMPTP more time to return to the negotiating table to conclude an agreement, the DGA will not schedule our negotiations to begin until after the New Year, and then, only if an appropriate basis for negotiations can be established,” the directors said.

“If that’s the case, then the DGA will commence formal talks in the hope that a fresh perspective and the additional pressure we can bring to bear will help force the AMPTP to settle the issues before us in a fair and reasonable manner,” the DGA said.

 The WGA couldn’t be reached for comment.

In response to the statement by the DGA, the AMPTP issued a statement late Thursday saying it looks forward to talking to the directors but added negotiations with that union will still be "an extremely difficult process."

"All of us -- producers, directors, writers and everyone working in the entertainment business -- need to get this right, because in the rapidly evolving new media marketplace, there is little margin for error," the statement read. "We must work in partnership to create a modern economic system that fairly shares the benefits of progress while providing opportunity for the kind of innovation and flexibility we all need to succeed."