Strike BulletsBy Christian
January 25, 2001 - 4:37 PM
- As previously reported, on Monday negotiations started between representatives of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP), in an effort to agree on a new contract for the writers and avoid a massive strike later this year.
On Monday, talks started cordially after an opening session that featured 15-minute speeches by Disney President Robert Iger and Dreamworks chief Jeffrey Katzenberg. "We're here today to show respect for the writers and respect for the process, a process that for the last 12 years has resulted in labor peace in Los Angeles, not labor conflict," said another studio chief, Warner Bros' Barry M. Meyer.
On the other side, the WGA also showed some flexibility, with chief negotiator John Wells saying they might be willing to extend their original two-week deadline. "Nobody's going to walk away from the table if we've made some more progress," he said.
On Tuesday, negotiations really seemed to start in earnest, with the negotiators breaking up in separate committees to discuss each of the WGA's financial demands, while separate talks started at another location over its so-called 'Creative Rights' demands. Unfortunately, this morning there were no signs yet that the two sides were any closer to reaching an agreement, with one Variety source commenting, "We still can't tell if they can reach an agreement until they get further into the nuts and bolts of the proposals."
- Underlining the importance of these negotations, on Monday industry trade paper the Daily Variety decided to run an editorial on the front page for the first time in its 86-year history. In it, editor Peter Bart urged both sides in the talks to "compromise, rather than [posture], but also criticised them for not doing enough to end this crisis.
- The official site of the Writers Guild of America has been updated with several articles by members on the Creative Rights issue, including this piece by Steve Martin, entitled 'A Film By
Steve Martin'. In it, the comedian pokes some fun at the Directors Guild of America's insistence on the possessive 'A Film By' credit for directors.
- According to a report on the official Star Trek site, Armin Shimerman (Quark) has resigned as co-chair of the Screen Actors Guild's Agents Relations Committee. Besides the upcoming negotiations with film and television producers, the SAG is also involved in negotiations with talent agents, though currently these are on hold while the SAG's board studies the situation.
Shimerman was none too pleased with the slow speed at which these negotiations were proceeding. "I had great frustration with the SAG board about the lack of direction in the continuing negotiations with the ATA/NATR over agency regulation," he said. "There is a lack of direction."
However, according to Shimerman the reason he resigned from his post was not this, but rather the fact that he wants to concentrate on his post as the co-chair of the Guild's Wages and Working Conditions Committee, the committee that will be negotiating with film and television producers. "I'm primarily leaving because I cannot possibly chair the agents negotiations and be a co-chair and be very involved in the TV/theatrical contract negotiations," Shimerman said. "Make no mistake, it was the burden of those two commitments that made me choose between the two."
- For more background information on the strike, including the Writers Guild's demands and a short chronology of the events leading up to these negotiations, please read last week's feature article.