Agencies Confer About DGA Deal

We've learned that a conference call took place this afternoon, with the heads of all the Hollywood agencies, to go through the DGA deal summary point by point.

Among other things that happened on that call was a unanimous feeling that the DGA deal was one they all felt was a good one, considering how entrenched the AMPTP has been up until now. Some aspects of the deal are even surprising (although they noted that some, specifically the ad-supported streaming payments, are not what TV writers had hoped for.) The agents all felt the gains made in the DGA deal would never would have been reached without the WGA strike and SAG's support.

In that call, they also discussed that Peter Chernin called John Bowman today to tell him that the same deal is on the table for the WGA, and to try and open communications for new negotiations between the WGA and the congloms in a positive way.


Greg said...

I hope this is a good sign… godspeed, WGA.

Jake Hollywood said...

In retrospect I'm convince this positive energy all came about because Nikki Finke hasn't written a word about the strike, the WGA, the DGA, SAG, or the AMPTP this week. She's on "vacation."

One wonders what would've happened had she gone away earlier.

J. said...

The agencies have a vested interest in saying this is a good deal.

1) They are facing layoffs themselves and want to protect their own bank accounts.

2) Agents don't commission residuals. So the directors just negotiated a whopping 12% raise for television. That is something that agents do get to commission. Of course, they are going to be happy with it.

My additional .3% is that I am a working writer who has made significant sacrifices for this strike. I believe in what we are fighting for. I have sacrificed now because I want to protect my future and the futures of generations to come. This deal does not do that. For TV writers it still represents a whopping rollback in pay.

We must not go all googely-eyed over any deal offer, just because one finally appeared. Let's look at this like true businesspeople would, as a starting place.


Geo Rule said...

Okay, I said I wouldn't say anything about the deal for 24 hours, but I will say one thing. . . the sunset provision may be the key.

Dave said...

Jake, I've thought about that too. Was the deal able to be made because she wasn't spouting rumors or scoops (true or not) every couple of hours? Who knows... the conspiracy theorist in me wonders if maybe she was given a "consideration" so she would leave town for a week and let this thing work itself out...

Jeffrey said...

Pinheaded -

You're operating under a very large misconception -- that the AMPTP are people. They are NOT. They are representatives of corporations, corporations that have one single motivation - MORE! More profit, more territory, more control, more power. MORE. I suggest you rent a doc titled The Corporation. It is very enlightening and, ulitmately, proves that they are NOT just like us.

larryfouch said...

As another working writer on a network show, I am a little alarmed that this site seems to be putting a positive spin on this deal. The agents approve? Big deal. Peter Chernin wants us to take the deal? Big deal. Fine print or not, the deal effectively treats first-run as promotional -- a 17 day window? If this fight has truly been about fair pay for internet content, that simply will not do.

We must remember that the DGA does not share our opinion about the immediacy of internet distribution. It would be a shame to have fought this hard for this long to take a deal that is smaller in significance than our sacrifices deserve.

Ban-joe said...

The AMPTP despises the writer's guild and it's negotiating commitee. They walked out on us, bided their time so they could force majeure people out of jobs and now they are going to shove the DGA deal down our throats. The director's guild benefited from our hardship by getting a better deal than they normally would. And now we get to pay the price again. It is much easier now for the AMPTP, the directors, and our good friends at IATSE to paint us as the bad guys because we don't like the terms of the directors' agreement. We should be prepared for a lot of discord within the guild as we come to terms with what can realistically expect in a new contract.

scribeguy said...

I agree with j. that the agencies have a vested interest in saying this is a good deal.

Here's a quick reaction to the deal from a writer's POV, and one I believe will be shared by an overwhelming majority of actors.

1) The jurisdiction and verification parts of the DGA deal are very promising, and essential for any further bargaining.

2) The fraction of one per cent for ESL's is extremely disappointing. The DGA missed a huge chance to use the leverage given them by the strike to bring those up to the standard 1.2 per cent in other areas that has insured industry peace and prosperity for decades.

3) The 100,000 unit "breakpoint for ESL means, as I read it, that the first 100k will get the pathetic .3% pay. And remember, ESL's won't be going for $20 a pop...more like $5. Do the math here, and you're looking at an eventual 40-80% reduction in residual income for directors as DVD's bite the bullet, entirely replaced by ESL's.

4) The "streaming" agreement is an embarrassment for the DGA. It's full of loopholes, qualifications, and, by my estimate STRIPS directors, actors and writers of approximately 90% of their television residuals within five years...if not sooner. And the amount of time for free "promotional" use is completely out of whack.

5) The pitiful amount paid for "streaming" appears to actually go down after one year. Thus, an artist who worked on a popular show is actually penalized!

6) The loophole allowing low budget Internet content to go without any DGA jurisdiction (unless a DGA member works on the project) should temper some of the euphoria over "establishing" jurisdiction here.

7) The "sunset" provision is a sop to the DGA, which, in my opinion, means nothing. Once a business model is in place, it will take another strike to move the companies off it.

So, in my opinion, Gil Cates et al missed a once in a lifetime opportunity to put the entire town back to work in short order and avoid an actor's strike. Actors depend on residuals for as much as 50% of their income. An eventual reduction of residuals by as much as 90% could mean the DECIMATION of the corps of actors and a diminution in the number of working writers in LA and New York, and an eventual end to US dominance in the entertainment industry.

So, no, this isn't even close to a good deal. But it is a start. The AMPTP has actually TALKED to the DGA. Now they have to explain to the town and the world why they weren't talking to the guild whose contract expired some months back: the one on strike for a TRULY fair deal. This is, at best, a stepping-stone to a good agreement that will bring real peace and prosperity to the industry.

And so much for Gil Cates legacy as the Great Uniter. By rushing to make a grossly deficient deal, DGA negotiators have undoubtedly LENGTHENED the strike by encouraging the moguls to hold out, hoping the WGA will cave, as well. But even if that happens, it won't keep the actors from striking: they've got even more to lose than the writers. Just how does that put DGA members back to work?

Cates hasn’t learned much in the 23 years since he first gave away 80%--billions of directors’ residual dollars--on that newfangled contraption, the videocassette.

t555 said...

I would like j. to please explain how this deal represents a "whopping rollback in pay".

And larryfouch, please explain the issue with the 17 day window. If a network show re-airs on the network, or even on cable, don't the regular residual rates apply? I understand the formula sucks for internet re-airing during that 17 day period, but that doesn't apply to old-fashioned tv/cable does it? And if not, what's the big deal?

And oh yeah-- the sunset provision? Big deal. I think there was one in '88 too and the AMPTP chose never to revisit the DVd issue anyway.

shortgirl said...

My fertile little mind is full of questions tonight. What if the AMPTP received advance word from NRLB that they had violated the law and were going to be forced back to the table anyway? How would "informal" negotiations effect that ruling?

Aaron said...

If that 17-day promotional window is so promotional--that is, if directors are giving up their residuals because internet streaming during that period is solely about building and maintaining an audience for the show--why does the studio get to run ads on it? That would like infinite free rebroadcasts of every new LOST episode for two and a half weeks after it airs. Come to think of it, that's exactly what it is.

I don't know though. Maybe they can do that already? I know some cable networks run a new episode at 10 and then again at 11. Does that second play usually come gratis?

m.o.i.@ warrior ant press said...

Jake Hollywood must think Nikki Finke is the most powerful person in Hollywood. Most everyone, including numerous UH contributors, expected that DGA would reach an accord fairly quickly and now that they have, where does that leave Nikki? Other than on vacation? With any luck she's at Sundance enjoying the snow, shows, and gliterrati.

kellythedog said...

I think what may be missing in this exploration of the deal and the residuals is that for the first 2-3 years of this, the networks, in my opinion, are still going to air reruns, even though they are also showing them online.

They have those hours to fill. They are not going to order a huge number of more reality shows and game shows that cost money to make in place of the already made reruns.

The amount of online viewers will be relatively small at first. The ad rates/ratings will shrink for the networks because the amount of viewers who saw the episodes online but the writers will still get the same residuals for the reruns.

2-3 years down the line, in time for the next contract, is when most of the downloads will change the paradigm. But I really don't see an enormous decrease of reruns for the shows that normally would get them.

Geo Rule said...

A good friend just showed me tomorrow's Daily Variety in advance. They will report that:

"A source close to Patric Verrone's aunt advises us that he will not be welcome at this year's Thanksgiving dinner at her place if the WGA unreasonably fails to follow DGA in bathing in the undeserved, but gratifying, munificence of the AMPTP. The aunt did not want her name used in public because of fear of retribution.

Also, a young boy, age 8, was seen on the streets carrying his baseball bat and glove over his shoulder, the scabs on his bare knees attesting to his wholesome all-American character. When advised of the nearly unthinkable possibility that the DGA deal might not be enough to satisfy the bestial hunger of the Morlocks at WGA, he immediately broke into tears, lamenting 'Why does the WGA hate the children so much?!'. Alas, he ran off before we could get his name, explaining that his legal team advised him not to give the WGA ninjas anything to shoot at."

I wish the above was more outrageous than the yellow journalism Variety is pulling out to stampede writers into a deal right now, but I really can't say it is more outrageous.

"Don't write until it is right!" has never been more true than at this very moment.

Paul said...

This deal didn't come because Nikki Finke is gone. It came because the studios got what they wanted: they terminated 65 shows, clearing their schedules of dead weight. Now they're ready to make a deal.

RaisedByMongrels said...

I don't understand how people can read that part about the 17 day window and think that this is a good deal. When do you think the majority of online viewings are going to take place? Who waits 17 days after an episode airs to watch it online?

This deal was obviously designed to look good at first glance, but all the tricky loopholes make it completely meaningless. The studios have no intention of paying anyone fairly for new media. It doesn't take a lawyer to see that.

For the writers' sake, I sure hope the WGA higher-ups aren't as happy about this deal as the UH people seem to be.

Jake Hollywood said...

Dear M.O.I: I was being sarcastic. Surely you know what sarcasm is, right?

I'm almost positive Nikki is the she-devil.

Brian said...

I Agree with several off the posters. Less than 1% is not a good deal. It shows me that much of this town really doesn't understand the dynamics of the media revolution that is underway. It doesn't even seem to fully take into account the new Rental Agreements that the studio is making with Microsoft, Apple and Netflix that were announced in the last two weeks. These are revenue splitting deals that don't really fall into the Electronic Sell through Formula - Or the Streaming formula. It is in another nebulous area - Digital rental - A download that is not sold through.

I see no mention of the other uses of the media. NBC Everywhere - a new media divisionof NBC Universal - made a major announcement that barely caused a ripple.

NBC rolled out its NBC Everywhere network of digital out-of-home platforms during a presentation Wednesday at Rockefeller Center, with content reaching gas stations, supermarkets, fitness centers, maternity wards and universities.

John Miller, chief marketing officer of NBC Television and president of the NBC Agency, said the content that is being created to air on the different digital platforms is not solely promotions for NBC shows but actual content from those shows.

This new division plans to make major advertising money - reusing content - and most likely find that it is not included under the DGA proposal.

The offer to talk is encouraging - But I think still falls far short of what Could be constituted a ground-breaking deal.

I think it is great that the rank and file members of the entertainment industry are beginning to learn about the changes in the market - But most are just seeing the tip of the iceberg. All members of this community need to get informed where the business is going - or wake up one morning to find they have been left behind in the dust.

You can read about The NBC Everywhere Deal at the Hollywood Reporter Web site Here here:


Brendan said...

Here's my understanding on how the DGAs streaming video deal counts as a whopping rollback in pay:

Currently, for a prime time network TV show, a writer can make around $20,000 in residuals per episode when it's rerun in the first year, plus - if it's a hit show that hits syndication - upwards of $50,000 in future years.

For that same episode being streamed on a website, the writer will make $1,200 for the first year and 17 days. And then the formula goes down for additional years.

Captain Obvious said...

Geo Rule, you are killing me with laughter.

"Don't write until it is right?" it may be in poor taste, but we're writers--sometimes taste is irrelevant to the craft...

"Write power!"

Q: Does that count? Does that Godwin the thread?

Watching The Wheels Go Round said...

Shortgirl, I'm with you. My first thought, especially when Chernin and Iger reached out to the WGA, was that the NLRB was on their asses and that not simply the threat of being legally forced back to the table, but also of having some/many of their force majeure terminations declared illegal, was their prime motivating factor. Why talk now, when they haven't wanted to for 41 days in the desert? (Actually Carefree, Arizona, where Viacom had its spa-in.)

The WGA and SAG have been phenomenal on this. They have shown spirit, solidarity, willpower, resolve, decency - and supported not just each other but their members who needed help. Why else has only ONE writer (John Ridley) gone Fi-Core so far, in almost three months?

We should look long and hard at this deal. We should by no means be intransigent now - we have been at the table waiting to talk - but the DGA wouldn't have achieved even half of this without the leverage of our strike, and as the 2008-2009 TV season starts to fade for the networks, we should drive a fair but hard bargain with these uncaring, profit-driven robots, who if they weren't doing this would be running some mortgage company or bank into the ground while taking a golden payout.

Remember all those honks in support of the picketers from average Angelenos as they drove past the studios - they weren't honking for the corporations, they were honking for a fair deal for real workers who use their creative talents just as hard as someone on an assembly line uses her or his talents: to produce something that people want.

Honk for the guilds!! Honk for a settlement that doesn't rely on a sunset clause!! Apple TV may not have gotten it quite right yet, but it's just around the corner - and the networks' own websites are doing a pretty good job in the meantime.

And don't blame Nikki for this. She's been an invaluable source of information and unity that has helped strengthen our resolve, even allowing for a few missteps.

Honk on, WGA and SAG!!

wendyburd1 said...

Please PLEASE let this be good news for us all! I am praying this means there can be hope for some of our shows to have REAL seasons and season finales and that the 2008 fall season does NOT have to be non existent. I support the writers 100%, but have been feeling increasingly worried that I will still be expected to shell out 40 to 70 bucks for a season that was maybe 8 to 13 episodes long. And I have no doubts that it could happen, so I am trying to be uncharacteristically optimistic here. Writers are the imagination people, I imagine they have story lines they created in their heads for their respective shows while all this garbage has been going on! If an agreement is signed, then they can get those ideas on paper and our terrific actors can make them a reality, and we can find out what Grissom and The Winchester brothers and all the "Chuck's" have been up to!!
I miss my TV, and I am anxiously checking this site everyday in hopes to finally see some GOOD news.
I think the big "conglomerates" need to remember that it is not just their relationship with the writers and actors and all the people who work on these shows, that they are screwing with. It is the relationship with the viewer too! We invest our time and money into these shows, and were promised certain things (ex. back to back LOST for the entire season), and they are pissing US off too. I alone own over 70 shows on dvd, you really want to lose me? And I have got to be a TV conglom.'s dream, I am a TV addict and give all shows a chance...and then BUY them!!
So stop screwing around and give me my beloved characters and their stories back!

m.o.i.@ warrior ant press said...

No, JH. I'm only familiar with irony.

Becca said...

Peter Chernin's re-opening the door to negotiations is a good sign. Take it! But be sure he doesn't run you over in the parking lot.

Mr. Bowman: I stand firmly behind you in strong support. In fact, I have from the start and haven't left yet.

VDOVault said...

About the only useful thing I can say on this is what good actors say when they're told about an awesome script in the works.

Show me the pages.

I find it annoying to have to tease details out of press releases or comb through lots of light on detail 'news' stories that say "the directors have a deal and now so should the writers"

Like the UH team here without the actual pages of the DGA agreement in front of you, you can't do any substantive useful analysis of what the deal really is.

Oh and as far as resuming talks of any kind formal or informal with the AMPTP are concerned if I were a writer or on the negotiating committee I would be consulting my legal counsel (both at the WGA and the hired gun working on the NLRB action) before I said word one to the mogul team.

Finally has anyone taken the temperatures of SAG (and AFTRA) regarding the substance of this agreement. Because the way I see it if SAG (and AFTRA) aren't happy with this DGA deal, even if the writers get most of what they want, SAG (and AFTRA) could still decide it's not enough for them or doesn't suit their needs enough and start their own striking in July.

Prease don't confuse my realism with being negative. I just know better than to proclaim the DGA deal anything until I really know more about its details.

Jerry Monaco said...

Jonathan Tasini has a good analysis of the DGA contract at his weblog.
"What To Make of The Directors Guild Deal?"

An excerpt:

"Before looking at some of the specifics, in my humble opinion, whatever the deal is, it has to be absolutely clear to the DGA--even if they may not want to admit it because the DGA historically sees itself as the elite among the Hollywood unions--that the strike by the Writers Guild of America strengthened the DGA's hand. Big Media has been rattled by the strike and, obviously, wanted to reach a deal with the DGA to try to, then, bring some closure to the WGA walk-out."

Tasini is a former union organizer and negotiators. He also ran for Senate in New York State.

makomk said...

"If that 17-day promotional window is so promotional--that is, if directors are giving up their residuals because internet streaming during that period is solely about building and maintaining an audience for the show--why does the studio get to run ads on it? That would like infinite free rebroadcasts of every new LOST episode for two and a half weeks after it airs. Come to think of it, that's exactly what it is."

Because the studios aren't idiots. If they didn't put ads on the internet streaming, it'd cost them money (Internet bandwidth still isn't cheap, especially if you use Akami like a lot of them seem to).

Not only would they lose money on each showing, it'd eat into the viewing figures for their TV showings - why watch it on TV if you can watch it online at any time in the next fortnight with no ads? (It probably does anyway, but it's worth it, especially since they can make money from people who'd otherwise watch it illegally using Bittorrent...)

justme said...

Just admit you have read everything Nikki has written in the last month....

Louise said...

Justme -

I definitely read everything NF writes - remember fresh episodes of the sitcoms are few and far between - I need a few laughs.

After I read her "reporting" I then click on the LA Weekly link so I can look at the ads posted by the studios for their upcoming movies.