There have been these ongoing meetings of the Writer’s Guild Of America — actually informational luncheons for groups of 15-to-20 that are supposed to remain hush-hush between the guild’s members — to set what it’s calling “a list of priorities” for the imminent contract negotiations. I’m told that, at a recent meal, the WGA says its new strategy is to join with the Screen Actors Guild and with the Directors Guild Of America and all together “go after” New Media revenues. This is news which I haven’t seen printed anywhere, especially concerning the possibility that the DGA may finally play ball with the other two guilds. Only today does Variety report that the leaders of WGA and SAG, without the DGA, met Friday to plot strategy in “what’s likely to be several such confabs”. The two unions, plus the DGA, were notoriously not in sync during 2004’s negotiations. The WGA starts bargaining with the studios and networks this summer in advance of its contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture & television producers expiring on October 31st. Contracts for SAG and the DGA expire in mid-2008. Not since 2001 have the WGA and SAG been closely aligned during contract talks. But the DGA for a long time has been seen as the guild of appeasement rather than assertiveness. Still a source of WGA consternation is that the DGA in 2004 undermined the writers’ bid to raise DVD residual rates by being the first of the three guilds to agree to a 3-year deal that left the status quo intact on that issue. Within six months, the WGA and SAG followed suit. But, so far at least, there’s been no public indication that the DGA, whose bargaining team is led by Gil Cates, will support either the WGA’s and SAG’s self-described hard line. Hmm.
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