I’m told the Big Media cartel’s negotiating clique, the AMPTP, is expected to “probably” agree to SAG’s call for a federal mediator and, if so, confirm this before the end of the week. But I haven’t forgotten how that didn’t help the WGA secure a deal with the employers. At the time, the AMPTP was refusing to bargain with the WGA — even though the writers contract had already expired on October 31st, 2007, and despite the presence of a federal mediator. But in an 11th hour arrangement, two of the Big Media moguls — Peter Chernin and Les Moonves — made a backchannel promise that, if the writers gave up their DVD residual demands, then the employers would respond by improving the formula on the central sticking issue of New Media residuals. A negotiation was scheduled for the Sofitel Hotel on November 4th, 2007, but the AMPTP announced to the media that both sides had been “ordered” back to the table by the federal mediator. It was a lie. “The companies used the federal mediator to give them cover so they didn’t look like they’d caved and made the first call,” a WGA leader told me later. Then the WGA found out that the employers reneged on the backchannel deal. So the writers went out on strike. That’s why I seriously doubt a federal mediator can make headway a year later when it’s SAG vs the AMPTP now.