DGA Deal To Be Announced Tomorrow?

This is still a rumor, but it's definitely gaining steam -- word is spreading that the DGA has finalized a deal with the congloms, and will announce the deal tomorrow.

We don't know what the terms of the deal will be, if indeed it does exist. We're not going to speculate because, if it's true, we'll find out the specifics soon enough.

But we over at UH will make one suggestion: everyone stay calm. That's the only way we can really be prepared for the unexpected -- is to stop expecting anything.

When and if the DGA announces their deal, it will take some time for all of us to analyze the terms of that deal and see if they're acceptable to us as a guild or not. We're inevitably going to argue and disagree; we'll need to do it civilly, and calmly.

If they have made a deal, remember the WGA is not bound to whatever the DGA has committed to; however, the DGA deal can be used as a template to jumpstart our negotiations with the corporations. We certainly won't get less than what the DGA gets; that's how pattern bargaining works.

The one thing I think we can say for certain is that there will be aspects of any deal -- even one we negotiated ourselves -- that will be painful and disappointing for all of us. The roller-coaster emotions of the strike can be devastating. Whatever happens, we have to ride it out, think clearly, argue and discuss -- and then make the best decision we can, for our Guild and for the town.

UPDATED 8:40 p.m. The cutting of even more overall deals could be seen to support the contention that the DGA and AMPTP are about to announce a deal. The following is reprinted from today's Variety:

Citing fallout from the WGA strike, Warner Bros. TV, CBS Paramount Network TV, Universal Media Studios and 20th Century Fox TV have decided to follow the lead of ABC Studios by terminating a big batch of deals.

At 20th, about 15 pacts have been shed, while insiders describe the Warner Bros. cuts as less than a half-dozen so far. CBS Par has trimmed more than a half-dozen deals (though it has a much smaller roster from which to cut).
No word yet on the extent of the NBC U cuts. ABC Studios slashed nearly two dozen deals on Friday.

Agents around town began getting calls and letters from studio execs on Monday afternoon.

Among the scribes and producers cut from the CBS Par roster: Mark Johnson, John McNamara, Rene Echevarria, Barry Schindel, Jennifer Levin and the team of Sivert Glarum and Michael Jamin. Eye unit has also scrapped its pact with Hugh Jackman's company, which recently produced "Viva Laughlin."

Among the departed at 20th: Jonathan Lisco, whose fall drama "K-Ville" was canceled by Fox, and the team of Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts ("Pepper Dennis"). They're staffers on a show that will return, "Women's Murder Club," but will no longer be developing new projects for the studio. Other scribes let go include Larry Kaplow ("K-Ville") and Paul Redford ("Journeyman").

Studios issued statements Monday blaming the cuts on the strike. “Production companies in the entertainment industry continue to feel the impact of the ongoing writers strike,” CBS Par said. “As a result of this change in development and production activity, we have made a difficult decision to discontinue ‘overall deals’ with a number of writers and producers whose talents we greatly value and respect.”

UMS also praised its writers and producers, but said that “the duration of the WGA strike has significantly affected our ongoing business.

Regretfully, due to these changed business circumstances, we've had to end some writer/producer deals. We wish these colleagues the very best and thank them for their contributions."

WBTV was more succinct: “As an unfortunate but direct consequence of the strike, we have been forced to release some of the valued members of our roster from their development deals.”


Captain Obvious said...

Stay cool, everyone, please.

Stay focused.

Regardless of when a DGA deal is reached or what a DGA deal contains, there's never a good time to show any weaknesses. We still have a negotiation to conclude here on behalf of scribes.

Not-A-Troll said...

The WGA is going to be hit hard, period. It is a blanket deal that is being made and either the WGA will abide by it or be forced to suffer more, and in turn sadly the crew members.

Stop being stubborn and make a deal pleas. This city and my friends are being hurt horribly by this.

Cheryl H said...

Y'know, this is weird. Two hours ago I got a call that my deal was terminated at NBCUni. I thought, "This makes no sense. Why terminate my deal when they can suspend me, and still OWN me?" Then I thought: They must KNOW something. I bet the DGA and they have a deal from their talks this weekend, the studios know they have ONE DAY to basically clear out all the development deals they aren't happy with before the strike is off and all the suspended deals start drawing money again. So, that's what makes me think this DGA AMPTP agreement is real. Notice how every major studio terminated their deals TODAY? As a wise person once said to me: "They never do anything for no reason."

JimBob said...

If they've made a deal this quickly, we can be reasonably certain it isn't up to our standards.
Stay strong!

Caitlin said...

Staying calm. But this is very good news. If the DGA fought as hard as it should have, this could be amazing news. Even if they didn't, we can wring the good from it. Still, staying calm and trying not to be naive. I'll be waiting anxiously for tomorrow.

god is mean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie said...

Cheryl, wake up. The plan all along was to terminate the deal in mid-January. It's not rocket science. I posted the studios' plans to terminate deals way back in November/December. There's no great mystery to solve here. Get this: they are close to settling with the DGA but the WGA isn't going to like the deal. The studios are, thus, anticipating the strike going on for another couple of months (at least) which will give them more time to break free from old business models.

jimmy said...

Yeah, Cheryl, you'd have to think that if they put together a decent deal with DGA (while they could have done the same with WGA) it must have been for the simple reason that they needed to justify the use of force majeur.

Because even if the strike continued, could they pull the trigger on force majeur while at the bargaining table with the WGA? Probably not.

Hmm. Next few days will be very, very interesting.

sleeplessinsanclemente said...

Question: if a DGA deal is announced, do the terms go to the guild membership for a vote? Or does the negotiating committee get to make the call on their own and respond without any input from those they represent?

This is a delicate situation, in my view.

Evan Waters said...

Hoping for the best, fingers crossed, prayers, etc.

sleeplessinsanclemente said...

Charlie-- what do you mean by "old business models"? Overall deals?

If that's the case, then why aren't they terminating all overall deals?

People please... said...

Hey Charlie, you have to relax. There are no trophies for knowing the future.

The only real obvious thing here is, the AMPTP will make a deal with the DGA so can save face and run around town saying how they could negotiate with the DGA and not the WGA.

I would guess that the deal is good enough for us to take. I can't imagine the DGA choosing a crap deal after all of this.

We really must be calm, and cool and not tear into each other. I have my fingers crossed, but my hopes aren't up.

Dave said...

Charlie, I don't know. The fact that all the studios terminated deals today makes me suspect there's more going on than some long-ago devised plan. I do believe this was part of their plan, but the timing now makes me think there is more coming. I don't think the strike will be over tomorrow but maybe they are taking no chances and getting the deals off the table just in case.

BTL Guy said...

Aye carumba! How is it that both sides are full of doom and gloom?!?

We don't know ANYTHING yet, folks.

There may not even be a DGA deal.

If there's a deal, I'll keep up hope it's good enough for WGA. Neither I, nor anyone else posting right now, has any idea whether it will be good enough or not.

I will say this -- I know for a fact that the DGA Negotiating Committee is very aware of the Writers' bottom line needs.

*IF* the DGA does indeed have a deal, the fact that is was made so quickly *should be* a good indication that they were able to get what the Writers wanted, as well as serve their own needs.

Let's not get too excited nor too pessimistic.

Rather, let's keep our fingers crossed and see what tomorrow brings.

sleeplessinsanclemente said...

Oh my god... eureka!

Follow me now, people--

First, Paul Haggis comes out some weeks back with a call to arms for the guild to stay strong. He's quickly blasted on many blogs-- including this one-- as a Scientologist not worthy of any credence. All critical comments disappear mysteriously within minutes of posting.

Next, the guild cuts a deal with UA, which basically means Cruise, also of course a Scientologist. So Fabiani and Lehane-- being the good little PR flacks they are-- sense a vulnerability. It takes them a while, but in case you missed it, an old video of a bat-shit crazy Cruise accepting some medal of honor at some Scientology conference all of a sudden "resurfaces" at Hollywood Interrupted and Defamer and other websites late last night.

Then today? The video is gone. From ALL sources, including YouTube, Google and Yahoo. These religious folk don't mess around.

What were we thinking? If we wanna bring down the AMPTP, the answer seems obvious: sic the Scientologists and their lawyers on them! Call Kirstie Alley and tell her the studios think she's fat! Call John Travolta and tell him the studios think he's a shitty pilot! Unleash the Thetans on Nick Counter's ass and we'll all be back to work tomorrow?

Disclaimer: if Nick Counter is a Scientologist, then, well... never mind.

Bill said...

Charlie - Go back to bed, wait until tomorrow to see the deal before saying the WGA won't like it. Your guess is as good as anyone else, just a guess - that's all. If the deal is decent and you continue to hold out for your pride the fall will be much harder to take.

BTL 399

P.S. lots of calls today to the vehicle rental houses, what could THAT mean??

reasonable said...

Charlie, Chuckt, whatever you want to call yourself, force majeure has been in the works FOREVER! Since late November, you neither predicted it nor invented it. You're not the oracle of Zeus. So just wait like the rest of us to find out if the DGA made a deal. Or not. While you're at it, do it calmly.

Cheryl, I've very sorry to hear about your deal. This is not meant as an empty platitude, your obvious talents will be requested elsewhere, numerously; make no mistake.

MrKlaatu said...

The DGA knows they can't take a deal that the WGA will not take. They can't risk us getting more at a later date than them. They know what we need.

If there is a deal, it wasn't quick. The two+ months of our strike has been part of the DGA dealmaking process.

Ilike2think said...

Here's hoping and praying the news is good for you all.

Eggroll said...

It all seems to make sense. Early vitriolic negotiations, therefore AMPTP doesn't want to make a deal with the WGA. But far enough into the strike to be within reach of force majeur, especially when that date comes so close to a negotiating date with the DGA. Make a deal with the DGA on new media that's very close to what the WGA is asking. This will enable them to serve up a deal to the WGA that eliminates animation, reality and possibly DVD increases that the AMPTP keeps insisting are the roadblocks that make the WGA impossible to negotiate with. They know the WGA will take the deal, because ultimately this strike is about new media and they're not going to fall on the sword for those other issues and keep people out of work if the new media figures are in the ballpark. This way the AMPTP can look like reasonable negotiators making a deal with the reasonable guild (DGA) and it's a big F.U. to the WGA leadership. They know that, in all likelihood the WGA would have eventually taken those other things off the table and made a reasonable deal on new media -- had the AMPTP ever returned to the table. It's frustrating to think about all the extra weeks of collateral damage that have resulted from the AMPTP's puppetry that could have been avoided. Now, I have to go before I use the word "reasonable" again.

VDOVault said...

For what it's worth here's what I'm thinking

1) That assuming there is a deal and it gets voted on and accepted by a majority of the DGA's membership it will be interesting to see how much of it saves Gil (I am the director of the upcoming Oscar's) Cate's bacon and at the potential future expense of all his fellow DGA members in which case the Oscars could become an *EVEN BIGGER* target than they were before

2) As to force majeured writers and producers if I were you all I'd be looking into legal action (i.e. class action lawsuits one for each studio or network that invoked force majeure) and alleging that the studios and networks on the one hand can't antagonize people they have deals with to strike and then somehow claim that force majeure applies to your deals.

From the online dictionary.com
Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law
force majeure - noun
Etymology: French, superior force
1 : superior or insuperable force
2 : an event (as war, labor strike, or extreme weather) or effect that *cannot be reasonably anticipated or controlled*

I think the script stockpiling and the negotiations moves shows that the AMPTP did anticipate and control circumstances and there force majeure does not apply which means your contracts were wrongfully terminated

Just sayin'

Geo Rule said...

Content is still King, and that cannot change. Did some individuals stress level just rise significantly? I'm sure it did, and I wish them well as they work through it. But the reality is most of them will work through it, and some of them will be on an awards podium someday starting off with "Funny story how this all came about because of the writer's strike. . . ". All that is going to happen is that congloms are going rearrange the same group of deck chairs.

Sure, maybe there's a drama teacher in Boise who's going to get a deal he might not otherwise and do something wonderful in Hollywood with it. But there's probably not *two* of those people out there.

JimBob said...

vdovault, you make an excellent point about force majeure. It'll be real interesting to see if someone takes up that fight, though, even if there is justification. Feels like one of those "You may be right but you'll never eat lunch in this town again," situations.
Should be an interesting day or two, there's definitely some rustling in the bushes...may be a bear!

kimmy2007 said...

lets hope the DGA has some sort of sense and takes whatever the AMPTP is offering, then maybe the WGA will follow, this strike has gone on far too long cost alot of people alot of money, lets get back to work. If the price is right the DGA will not hesitate to take the deal, they were smart to have a media blackout that proves they really want to end this strike and prevent their own.

Tejas Borse said...

wait...so if the studios have cut off deals with the writers does that mean that there will be no shows like "the office" ever again?

reasonable said...

I agree w/ jimbob, vdovault, you make a very interesting point. AMOF, in December I put the question to the digital media lawyer,Jonathan Handel, who posts on Huffington Post, wondering if force majeure was even enforceable considering malfeasance could be claimed in light of the fact that the AMPTP, given their behavior (not negotiating in good faith), orchestrated the length of the strike to implement force majeure. Unfortunately, he didn't answer, but I think legally it's relevant.

RaisedByMongrels said...

Could someone please clarify what "force majeure" means in this situation for us non-industry people? I understand the basic concept, but what kind of writer deals were terminated? Does this mean they canceled some shows? Pilots? Concepts for future shows?

Harold said...

"Eggroll said...They know the WGA will take the deal, because ultimately this strike is about new media and they're not going to fall on the sword for those other issues and keep people out of work if the new media figures are in the ballpark."

If the DGA deal provisions applicable to new media are remotely reasonable, it will be hard to reject them. Everything else is gone. DVD residuals are a non-issue, because no one can claim they're important when they were given up so easily the first time around. Verrone can claim they're back on the table, but it's hard to reconsider them when you give them up in exchange FOR NOTHING.

"VDOVault said...I'd be looking into legal action (i.e. class action lawsuits one for each studio or network that invoked force majeure) and alleging that the studios and networks on the one hand can't antagonize people they have deals with to strike and then somehow claim that force majeure applies to your deals."

I am not an attorney, but your employer being a jackass (but not sexually harassing employees, etc.) isn't a cause of action or the entire country would have claims. Parties can bitch and drag their feet in a contract, but as long as they comply to the letter, it's hard to claim a breach.

The WGA went on strike. The AMPTP didn't lock writers out. Big difference.

"S/He made me do it" doesn't appear to work well in criminal cases. It would appear difficult to prove in civil ones. If you get fired without cause, you can claim unemployment compensation easily. You can possibly file suit for some unlawful termination. If you quit your job by choice, it's difficult to get employment unless you can make a strong case why you "had" to quit. It's also hard to sue since you were the one who decided to end your employment.

Everyone knew force majeure was a possibility and some deals were certain to get dumped, but I don't think anyone expected the breadth of the deal terminations.

I hate to give AMPTP any credit, but they clearly had some objectives that they wanted to achieve if there was a strike, and cleaning out some of the deals was obviously one of them.

I thought the WGA had objectives too (as documented in the proposals). I thought the objectives had been prioritized - i.e., DVD residuals #1, new media #2, etc. in the order in which they were listed.

All of that went out the window when DVD residuals were given up for nothing. All of the talking points about 4 cents on a $20 DVD disappeared. Suddenly, it was all about new media and ONLY about new media.

New media was always important and continues to be, but DVD residuals were too in the beginning. Yes, the Internet and TV will become indistinguishable, but all of that Blu-ray (now that it has more or less won against HD-DVD) revenue will be a continuation of the shitty DVD situation. At this point, I think the leadership is searching for a way to claim victory even if doesn't actually achieve it. If it gets any deal on new media, their claim will be that the strike was worth it.

Perhaps the WGA should hang a "Mission Accomplished" banner on the building after the deal is signed to add the final fucked up touch.

JimBob said...

And, reasonable and vdovault -- if it was the WGA that took the studios to court for having created the very force majeure that allows them to weasel out of contracts, then no shit will stick to the individuals whose contracts are (potentially) thereby saved.
Sounds like a plan. When do we start?

Bill said...

JimBob said:

"Sounds like a plan. When do we start?"

How about AFTER the strike?

Jess said...

seriously. this is rediculous! it's gotten to the point now where no side is willing to bargain with the other. and now because of that. not JUST WGA jobs are in jeapordy. but the welfare of the actors are as well!! time to end it. hope this deal goes through. because i'm getting sick and tired of this. the WGA can't afford not to.

intrigued said...

for all of you questioning the "force majeure" clauses in contracts...

It is a standard clause in a majority of contracts worldwide, not just in the entertainment industry. Although the literal definition links force majeure to an act of god, in contracts that is not necessarily the case. Furthermore, events in which force majeure can be applied are typically spelled out in the contract and agreed to by both sides.

So, the reason this action is no surprise (maybe the amount is surprising) is because a strike would automatically trigger the studios right to enforce the clause and cancel contracts.

Also, as to any legal action - NO CHANCE! As I hope I just explained clearly, per the contracts it is identified that a strike shutting down productuion for xx number of days will trigger the studio's right to cancel the contract without penalty (or in some cases it might specify a nominal fee that will paid). No matter what you think of the studio's negotiating practices or intentions - legally they can't cause a strike! They can lock out union employees which would nullify the force majeure clauses, but any strike by legal definition is initiated by the union and out of the studio's control.

Everyone knew it was coming, this is not a big deal! (If you didnt know this was coming or are just know learning about force majeure and you are on strike - says a lot about your leadership's ability to keep you informed of what the stakes are because they knew!!!)

Eggroll said...

We have to remember too that one of the goals of the AMPTP is to make sure this strike hurts enough so that nobody is in a hurry to do it again anytime soon.

JimBob said...

I agree completely with Harold about the DVD's. I cannot understand how they were not put back "on the table" (the table at which no one sits) after the Lucy-and-the-Football trick the AMPTP pulled. There are plenty of people, I think, asking why DVD's aren't back in play and there is no explanation of any kind, or demurral or anything else coming from Guild leadership on the question.

JimmyMerced said...

I hope some sort of deal is announced today. So many of my friends in the entertainment industry are being impacted.

Let's get back to work!!