dga.jpgThe AMPTP just made this announcement. Talks begin tomorrow and I’m told this news reflects significant “progress.” Indeed, DGA President Michael Apted told members in a letter today “We would not enter negotiations with the AMPTP unless we were within shouting distance of an agreement on our two most important issues: jurisdiction for our members to work in new media and appropriate compensation for the reuse of our work on the Internet and other new media platforms.” But Apted also noted: “There are still hurdles to jump.”

As a top insider in the negotiations just emailed me, “The process is fully functioning, and both sides are engaged with a keen eye on what’s good for everyone (other guild members, community, etc).”It’s common knowledge that the Directors Guild, whose contract expires in June, doesn’t start formal negotiations until most of the big issues are ironed out ahead of time in months of early pre-sessions. dga-roth-cates.JPGAnd that’s what happened over the past two weeks, including a secret meeting between News Corp No. 2 Peter Chernin and Walt Disney President Bob Iger about Internet issues with reps for the Directors Guild, including negotiations committee chair Gil Cates and executive director Jay Roth. (See my previous, EXCLUSIVE: DGA Met With Moguls Today.) Even hardliners among the moguls like Warner Bros boss Barry Meyer are widely known to be “very eager” to get a DGA deal quickly in order to lord it over the striking WGA. The big question still remains whether the deal which the DGA can reach with the studios and networks will be acceptable to the Writers Guild so the current scribe strike can end and possibly prevent a Screen Actors Guild come June:

LOS ANGELES – The Directors Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers agreed today to enter into formal contract
negotiations.  Negotiations are scheduled to begin tomorrow, Saturday, January 12, 2008, and will be held at AMPTP headquarters in Encino, CA. The DGA and the AMPTP have agreed that neither organization will comment to the press regarding negotiations until negotiations have concluded.

Here is DGA President Michael Apted’s letter about it to members:

I am writing to inform you that with the unanimous agreement of the Negotiations Committee and the recommendation of Negotiations Chairman Gil Cates, I have authorized the start of formal negotiations with the AMPTP and we will begin our first negotiations session tomorrow.

As I have stated before, we would not enter negotiations with the AMPTP unless we were within shouting distance of an agreement on our two most important issues: jurisdiction for our members to work in new media and appropriate compensation for the reuse of our work on the Internet and other new media platforms.

We’ve spent the last few months discussing these and related issues with the studios and we’ve been doing intensive research on these points for the past year and a half. Now we believe it is time to move forward with the goal to hammer out an agreement. I am very mindful of how many members are unemployed and believe that our reaching a deal will bring the industry closer to getting back to work.

There are still hurdles to jump. However, we would not be going forward unless we believed we could make a good deal.

As is our practice, once we enter negotiations tomorrow, there will be a total news blackout on the talks. As soon as there is anything definitive to report we will be in touch with the membership.

Sincerely,
Michael Apted