EXCLUSIVE: Four days after returning to the negotiating table, the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers are near an agreement on a new three-year contract, I’ve learned. “We’re not there yet and there are still a few more I’s to dot and T’s to cross, but we’re very close,” one insider told me today. With many of the bulky points already coming together in the first two weeks of talks, the two sides spent some of their two-week temporary recess fine-tuning the agreement, sources on both sides say, before sitting down again at AMPTP’s Sherman Oaks HQ. An official announcement could come as early as the beginning of next week. If you take out the downtime, this year’s talks pretty much follow the timeline of the placid 2011 negotiations, which started on March 3 that year and were all done by March 20.
Related: WGA Contract Talks Brittle In Opening Days Over “Ridiculous” AMPTP Proposals
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The union’s new voluntary Personal Managers Code of Ethics and Conduct really isn’t going over well with some managers. Just a day after the code was unveiled, SAG-AFTRA today sent an email to members over the “uninformed lobbying” against the new scheme by the Talent Managers Association. SAG-AFTRA claimed that its former partners in crafting the code had “reached the level of direct misrepresentations being sent to union members in an attempt to frighten them about the true intent of this Code.”
Related: SAG-AFTRA Sets New Ethics Code For Personal Managers
“Managers have been asked by SAG-AFTRA of the guild if we intend to help them get work,” reads one email from a personal manager obtained by Deadline. “I’m afraid that if we want to stay in the guild’s good graces we must turn away all guild members who approach us with agency representation.” The latter sentence refers to state labor laws in California and New York that limit personal managers’ ability to procure employment for their clients. SAG-AFTRA said today that the verbage in their code “closely mirrors” the laws of the Golden State and the Empire State – something the TMA obviously wants to use as wedge.
Half a dozen years in the making, the new ethics and conduct code marks the first time the union has attempted to exercise some control over managers even though it has, as do other guilds, long mandatorily regulated talent agents.
Here is the email SAG-AFTRA sent to its members today: Read More »
It’s totally voluntary and the Talent Managers Association is against it but SAG-AFTRA today introduced a Personal Manager Code of Ethics and Conduct. The new code (see below) is the first time the union has attempted to exercise some control over managers even though it has, as do other guilds, long mandatorily regulated talent agents. The union also announced that it would change the name of its Agency Relations Department to the SAG-AFTRA Professional Representatives Department. Years in the making the new Code doesn’t jibe with some of the people who were initially involved in crafting it. “After thoughtful review and consultation with legal counsel, our position is to advise members against signing the SAG-AFTRA code in its current highly restrictive and regulatory form,” said the TMA board in a statement. The announcement today by SAG-AFTRA comes just weeks before the union is expected to announce the beginning of talks with the studios and networks for a new 3-year contract. DGA members approved their deal with AMPTP in January and the WGA, who started negotiations on February 3, returns to talks today after break of a couple of weeks
Related: Federal Judge Throws Out Lawsuit By Managers Challenging Talent Agencies Act
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Related: California Pols Unveiling Bill Today To Expand Film & TV Tax Credit Program
Just hours after a new multi-sponsored bill to expand California’s current $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit program was introduced today in Sacramento both the state’s Production Alliance and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti have come out in strong support. Garcetti, who formed the city’s Entertainment Industry and Production office last year and vowed to “storm” the state capitol to improve the state’s incentives, praised “Assemblymembers Gatto and Bocanegra for taking the lead on enhancing this important program.” The Alliance, which includes the MPAA, SAG-AFTRA and the Teamsters, said that it “welcomed the introduction of AB 1839.” While the new bill seeks to let blockbusters and network TV shows now be eligible for the lottery rewarded program, no actual figure has been given yet – though as Deadline’s scoop on the bill this morning said, sources tell me the politicians and the industry are aiming for $400 million. Whether they get it is another matter. In the meantime, check out Mayor Garcetti and the Alliance’s statements below:
Mayor Garcetti’s Statement on Film Incentive Legislation
This legislation represents a prudent investment in the future of California’s middle class, and its widespread geographic and bipartisan support reflects its importance to our statewide economy. It comes at a critical moment, when other states and foreign countries are luring away thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in revenues
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UPDATE, 7:45PM: EXCLUSIVE: SAG-AFTRA Executive Director David White may be a candidate to head up the NBA players union, but he’s still got a big supporter in the head of the Hollywood union. “Just as it was with their opposition to merger, MembershipFirst remains out of touch with members,” SAG-AFTRA president Ken Howard told me tonight of the faction’s slam of White’s potential new gig. “Executives of David White’s caliber are rare, and informed SAG-AFTRA members are thrilled to have David leading the preparations for our upcoming contract talks,” Howard added. The SAG-AFTRA chief gave no indication of what the union’s plan would be if White got the NBA players union job. However, with SAG-AFTRA still in its mandated wages and working condition consultation with members and likely weeks away from even setting a start date for its talks with the studios and networks over a new three year contract, the union has time to regroup as it heads into the first such negotiations since its spring 2012 merger.
WGA Contract Talks Off Until March 4
SAG-AFTRA Increased National Exec Director’s Pay & Union’s Funds In Trust In Fiscal 2012
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UPDATE, 1:13 PM: LA Mayor Eric Garcetti today made official what I exclusively revealed Saturday to Deadline readers: Hollywood heavyweight attorney Ken Ziffren will be the head of the City of LA’s Entertainment Industry and Production office. The card-carrying SAG-AFTRA member Garcetti said that Ziffren will be “a powerful leader in our fight against other states that are taking our jobs, and he will be aggressive about streamlining government so red tape doesn’t contribute to driving production away.” Ziffren takes over from former AMPAS president and studio exec Tom Sherak. who died January 28. See today’s full release below the original story.
Related: R.I.P. Tom Sherak
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, SATURDAY PM: Los Angeles is about to get its second Film Czar. Mayor Eric Garcetti has decided on Ken Ziffren for the job he created last fall and the powerhouse entertainment attorney has accepted the gig, I’ve learned. Ziffren will step into the position vacated by the death of the city’s first Film Czar Tom Sherak. The former AMPAS president and studio exec passed away from cancer on January 28. A formal announcement of Ziffren’s appointment to head the Entertainment Industry and Production office is expected to come from the Mayor’s office early next week, sources tell me.
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There’ll be fireworks but no fire, and there will be a deal in the end. That’s the word I’m hearing from both sides out of the WGA’s contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers after two days of talks. No one is commenting publicly, but I’ve learned that besides presentations from both sides during the opening days, there’s palpable unease in the room at AMPTP HQ thanks to the multimillion-dollar rollback proposal producers sent the WGA more than a week before negotiations began. “There’s a feeling of, Why did you have to insult us?’” a WGA insider told me over the producers’ request for $60 million in rollbacks from the health and pension plans, residuals and targeted screenplay minimums. “Once again it makes us the least favored child of the guilds.” Some on the other side of the table don’t disagree with that assessment. “Those were ridiculous proposals meant to appease the people at the top, not anyone in the room,” a well-placed producer told me. “That’s why they were sent out more than a week and a half before talks started, to get the shot across the bow out of the way.”
Related: Writers Hopeful As They Head Into Contract Negotiations With Producers Read More »
Almost two years after merging SAG-AFTRA still haven’t melded their pension and health plans, but the SAG Plan now has a new CEO. Michael Estrada, former Executive Director, Investments and Finance, will take over the Screen Actors Guild-Producers Pension & Health Plans “effective immediately,” SAG-PPHP said today. The scandal-plagued plans saw Christopher Dowdell announced last year he was exiting the CEO gig after just more than a year in the job. The former COO stepped in after previous controversial CEO Bruce Dow exited in April 2012. Both SAG and AFTRA’s separate plans are expected to be a major topic of discussion in the union’s upcoming negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers over a new 3-year contract. SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP have not yet set a start date for those talks, but the current contract expires June 30 — the same day as the DGA, who struck their new deal with the producers late last year.
On December 15, SAG-AFTRA that it was going to begin “the first steps” to partially merging the plans this summer but typically gave almost no details. While we wait for that, here’s today’s SAG-PPHP release:
SAG Pension & Health Plan Rocked By Lawsuit: Targets CEO Bruce Dow
Feds Probing SAG P&H Embezzlements/Cover-Ups Allegations
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Hollywood is reacting to the death today of Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman in New York. Here are some of his colleagues weighing in:
Refresh for latest…
Yolonda Ross, actress
“From the very first day I met Philat Labyrinth theater Company he had a profound and deep impact on my life. He opened his world to me and became an active mentor to me professionally. He had a kind heart and gave so much to others. Today I feel a deep loss of a dear friend and a true professional. His support of the arts from the heart never stopped. My heart goes out to Phil’s family, especially his children. I hope he’s at peace.”
Related: PHOTOS: Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967-2014)
Ken Howard, SAG-AFTRA president
“He was an extraordinary actor with tremendous range and the gift of fully and deeply realizing his amazing characters in films from Magnolia and Capote to Charlie Wilson’s War and Doubt. He was such a great talent and his loss is just deeply sad. On behalf of his fellow actors and all members of SAG-AFTRA, our condolences go out to his family and friends.”
George Clooney, The Ides Of March co-star
“There are no words. It’s just terrible.”
Related: Lionsgate: Philip Seymour Hoffman’s ‘Hunger Games: Mockingjay’ Role Mostly Filmed
Francis Lawrence, Suzanne Collins, Nina Jacobson, Jon Kilik, Jennifer Lawrence, on behalf of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay cast and crew
“Words cannot convey the devastating loss we are all feeling right now. Philip was a wonderful person and an exceptional talent, and our hearts are breaking. Our deepest thoughts and condolences go out to his family.”
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The 2008 Writers Guild Awards fell on the waning days of the writers strike, with WGA West even cancelling their ceremony while the East Coast writers union held theirs as final touches were being put on the hard-fought new WGA-AMPTP agreement. Six years later, we’re in the final months of that agreement, and the 2014 WGA Awards tonight were held on the eve of the two sides kicking off negotiations on a new 3-year contract on Monday. “It’s hard to believe it’s been 6 years,” Christopher J Whitesell of best daytime drama winner Days Of Our Lives told Deadline. “Let’s hope it goes better this time than it did then.”
Related: WGA Sets February 3 As Start Of Talks With Producers
There has already been some contention, with WGA negotiating committee co-chairs Chip Johannessen and Billy Ray on Thursday expressing concern over a “surprise”opening proposal by producers that includes “$60 million in rollbacks for writers.” At the New York ceremony, WGAE president Michael Winship rallied the troops with a battle cry, “Divided we beg, united we bargain.” Most writers attending the events sounded optimistic about the the negotiations when asked by Deadline. Veteran Garry Marshall, recipient of the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television Writing, joked, “We always are going on strike, it’s happened 5 or 6 times.” But he noted that the swift new DGA deal “gave a good inroad” for successful negotiations and “I hope the Writers Guild will follow.” Writers spent 100 days on the picket lines six years ago but, “I don’t think there will be a strike this time,” Marshall said. “We’ll only go on strike if it rains.” Read More »
Things are going downhill already just days before the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers are set to start negotiating a new 3-year contract. In an almost bizarre move, the producers allegedly told the WGA last week that they want “60 million dollars in rollbacks for writers, 32 million of that coming from our health plan,” according to an email sent out to WGA members today. “But it doesn’t stop there. Other proposals targeted screenplay minimums (11 million dollar rollback), TV residuals, and our Pension Plan,” adds the correspondence from WGA negotiating committee co-chairs Chip Johannessen and Billy Ray. “These proposed rollbacks for writers come at a time of unprecedented prosperity for the studios,” say Johannessen and Ray. “The collective profits of our 6 major bargaining partners (Disney, CBS, Comcast, Fox, Time Warner and Viacom) just hit a record $40 billion. This prosperity is based on our work, we are the creative force driving it. Are $60 million in rollbacks a just reward?” The letter to members adds that they were “surprised” by the opening proposals. That would be putting it mildly.
WGA West Rejects MPPA “Unreasonable” Approach To Copyright Infringement
AMPTP Respond To WGA West Plan To Go After Deadbeat Producers
The WGA and AMPTP are scheduled to sit down on February 3 at the producers group HQ in Sherman Oaks. With today’s letter, what many expected to be relatively smooth discussions akin … Read More »
Looks like not everyone in Hollywood is on the same page when it comes to combating copyright infringement. Specifically, the Writers Guild of America West thinks that the multimillion-dollar damages the Motion Picture Association of America wants extracted from file-sharing sites “has little additional deterrent effect” and “high statutory penalties are not only often unreasonable but unpayable.” The strong comments from the WGAW comes in a submission the guild made on January 17 (read it here) to the Commerce Department on its paper on Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy. Citing that “television and film are controlled by a handful of media companies who decide what content consumers have access to,” the guild’s remarks are a clear slap to the MPAA and the studios from the representatives of more than 8,000 frontline content creators.
Related: WGA Sets Feb. 3 As Start Of New Contract Talks With Producers
No surprise the MPAA does not agree with that POV. “The deterrence provided by the current range of statutory damages is of vital importance to MPAA’s members and other copyright owners, especially in the online environment,” says the studio lobbying group in its own submission (read it here).
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UPDATED: In a not-unexpected ruling, a federal judge has dismissed the multimillion-dollar foreign residuals suit brought by former union boss Ed Asner and more than a dozen others against SAG-AFTRA. The ruling (read it here) filed yesterday comes just weeks before the actors union is expected to begin negotiations with producers on a new three-year labor contract, the first since SAG and AFTRA merged in 2012. It lifts what could have been a black cloud over those talks – a June 24, 2014 trial date had been set.
“We are pleased with the judge’s order and believe the complete dismissal is fully warranted,” SAG-AFTRA Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said today in a statement. “The Court acknowledged SAG-AFTRA’s ongoing cooperation with the plaintiffs. SAG-AFTRA has more than 1,000 pages of annual disclosure documents available online to anyone. Despite this unfortunate and unnecessary litigation, we remain focused on collecting and distributing foreign royalties and unclaimed residuals, programs of which we are justifiably proud. We hope that this dismissal will mark an end to such lawsuits that needlessly expend union resources.”
In November, the union moved to have tossed the remaining elements of the suit originally filed in spring 2013 by Asner and the 15 other members of the self-titled United Screen Actors Committee. Despite protests last month from the plaintiffs (they called the union’s check-converting practices “willy-nilly”), U.S. District Court Judge Manuel Real on Monday ruled for the union. Asner and the United Screen Actors Committee first filed suit in May 2013 for more than $130 million over allegedly improperly dispersed foreign residuals. In October, Real granted the union’s motion to dismiss a large portion of the suit — though he did not cut the residuals aspect of the claims, giving certain plaintiffs the right to move forward. An amended complaint was filed October 23.
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R.I.P. Tom Sherak
Hollywood is honoring the life and legacy of former Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak, who died today at 68. Here is a sampling of the reactions:
Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Academy President:
“In the more than 30 years I’ve known Tom, his passionate support of and excitement about the motion picture business, the Academy, his family and friends never wavered. He was truly larger than life, and he will be missed.”
Dawn Hudson, Academy CEO:
“He was my mentor and my friend. I learned from him, I laughed with him, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the time we shared together. He had a huge influence on the direction of our Academy and on me personally. I will miss laughing with him most of all.”
Related: Tom Sherak: “It’s About Love”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti:
“I am devastated to learn of the passing of my close friend and advisor Tom Sherak. Tom was a true Hollywood original, moving up the ladder to promote blockbusters, running the Oscars and having a bulging rolodex filled with not just A-list contacts, but so many close friends who were smitten by his humor, drive, and spirit. In just a few short months, Tom laid a policy foundation that my Administration will stand on for the next four years. Tom’s work will continue through my office and the many charities to which he devoted … Read More »
Nearly a month after DGA members ratified their new three-year deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers, the WGA today announced that it will sit down for their talks with the producers on February 3. The negotiations are set to take place at AMPTP HQ in Sherman Oaks. While the Writers Guild took the step to announce its negotiating committee on November 13, up to today, neither they nor SAG-AFTRA had set a start date for their respective talks with AMPTP. Not like the melded WGA West and WGA East committee doesn’t include some heavy-hitting scribes. There’s recently re-elected board members Billy Ray and David S. Goyer as well Damon Lindelof among the group. The committee will serve under WGAW Exec Director and Chief Negotiator David Young. The WGA’s latest contract is set to expire on May 1.
Related: AMPTP Respond To WGA West Plan To Go After Deadbeat Producers Read More »
UPDATE: 5:57 PM: Neither embracing nor directly rebuffing the WGA West’s new Late Pay Initiative, the AMPTP today said it will “pledge our cooperation” to the move. The parsed statement comes just weeks before the WGA and AMPTP are expected to sit down to start talks on a new contract — where money will be doing most of the talking. Here’s the statement: “We agree with the Writers Guild of America that writers should be paid on time. We pledge our cooperation to address compliance in this important area. We encourage the Guild to advise us of instances when writers have not received timely payments in accordance with the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.”
PREVIOUS 4:13 PM Tuesday: Representatives of the Writers Guild of America West haven’t sat down with the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers yet to negotiate a new master contract, but it’s starting to look for more money for its members – money they’re owed. Today the guild started a new initiative “to address the chronic problem of late payment to screenwriters.” In an email from WGAW President Chris Keyser and Executive Director David Young sent out to members today and posted online, the guild says its “goal is to change the culture of late pay that persists in Hollywood.” The guild adds that “our intent with this initiative is to systematically track all theatrical script deliveries and payments, thereby eliminating the possibility that an individual member or agency can be singled out by employers.”
Related: WGA Sets Negotiating Committee For AMPTP Contract Talks
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Related: SAG Awards Winners (Full List)
UPDATED WITH WINNERS AND BACKSTAGE REACTIONS: American Hustle cemented its status as on Oscar Best Picture frontrunner tonight, taking the top ensemble award at the 20th Annual SAG Awards, which were handed at LA’s Shrine Auditorium. The actor races also gained further clarity with more wins for Matthew McConaughey and his Dallas Buyers Club co-star Jared Leto, and Blue Jasmine‘s Cate Blanchett. (A mild upset came in Supporting Actress, when 12 Years A Slave‘s Lupita Nyong’o won over a field that included Golden Globes winner Jennifer Lawrence.) On the TV side, Breaking Bad ended its final season on the air by taking the Best Ensemble Drama Series crown for the first time, with Bryan Cranston winning Best Drama Actor for a second consecutive year. In comedy, Modern Family won its fourth consecutive ensemble award, and Ty Burrell became the first individual winner from the series. There were a few good one liners over the two-hour-plus ceremony (organizers eventually asked winners to pare their speeches to 45 seconds — some did, some didn’t). Among the cracks were Burrell’s 5 Simple Steps to Success in Acting; Rita Moreno’s F-bomb (caught by the censors) at the beginning of her Lifetime Achievement Award acceptance speech; and Blanchett brushing off an off-camera clock during her time onstage, saying of McConaughey’s, er, wide-ranging speech just before hers: “Matthew McConaughey just spoke about Neptune, so I think I can have an extra 5 seconds.”
SAG Awards Film: ‘American Hustle’ Gets Big Boost, But Will First Guild Results Impress Oscar?
SAG Awards TV: ‘Breaking Bad’ Has Great Last Hurrah, ‘Modern Family’ Extends Streak
Actor statuettes up for grabs in 13 categories — five for film and eight for TV. There also are TV and film stunt ensemble categories, with those winners unveiled ahead of the main ceremony simulcast live on TNT and TBS. Final voting by the Screen Actors Guild’s eligible membership — that’s about 100,000 actors — was due yesterday, which gave ballot-casters a chance to soak in the Golden Globe winners last weekend.
Deadline had all the SAG scoops in our live-blog of the ceremony. Jen Yamato and Ross Lincoln were on the ground at the Shrine, and Film Editor Anita Busch, TV Editor Nellie Andreeva and Awards Columnist Pete Hammond provided analysis. Here’s how it went down: Read More »