EXCLUSIVE: It’s one of the little-known realities of reality TV: DGA and WGA members sometimes use fake onscreen names so they can work on nonunion reality shows without getting busted by their unions. Directors and writers have been known to use this ruse to keep from getting in trouble with their unions when working on such nonunion shows as ABC’s The Bachelor and The Bachelorette and Bravo’s The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills. “It happens all the time, I’m afraid,” said a veteran DGA director of reality shows. “It’s been going on for years. Even though the DGA’s bylaws say they can’t work nonunion, people can’t afford not to work, so three things can happen: They can turn down the show; they can change their names and work under the radar in the hope they don’t get caught, or they can go financial core.” Members who opt for Fi-Core status essentially are dropping out of their unions.
Deadline has found several instances – including a popular reality show on Starz – in which DGA members are working on nonunion shows under names that are different than the ones on their union membership cards. Sometimes the name change is as simple as adding or subtracting a middle initial; sometimes they work under their real last names but use nicknames instead of their real first names to avoid detection.
“The DGA tracks all nonunion reality productions, investigates any situation in which a member is suspected of working on a non-guild-covered project and takes disciplinary action as appropriate,” said DGA spokeswoman Sahar Moridani. “In no way do we allow members to work nonunion.” Read More »
Nearly 600 DGA members packed the guild’s LA headquarters Tuesday night for their annual membership meeting. They heard reports from their officers and board members about the DGA’s operations, finances, new film and TV contract, and legislative efforts to combat runaway production. The press, of course, was not allowed to attend the meeting, but members leaving the DGA Theater painted an upbeat picture of the state of the union. “Everything’s good,” said one member. “It’s good,” said another. “The guild is good.” Said a third: “We’ve got more money that we thought we had!” The latest numbers have not been made public, but for the fiscal year ended December 31, a financial report the guild files with the Department of Labor shows that it had $79.3 million in total assets, $26.8 million in total liabilities, $58 million in total receipts, and $58.8 million in total disbursements. The report also showed that the DGA, with 15,473 members, laid out $624,962 last year on “political activities and lobbying.” Most of that was spent on legislative and governmental efforts to stem the tide of runaway production.
Related: California Governor Still Mum On Film & TV Tax Credit Support
SAG-AFTRA said today that they’ll sit down with the studios and networks on May 5 to start negotiations on a new 3-year contract. This is the first truly big contract to be worked out by the union since SAG and AFTRA merged two years ago. The announcement comes less than two weeks after the WGA finally reached a deal on a new three-year contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers. Today, in meetings in L.A., the SAG-AFTRA National Board unanimously rubber stamped proposals for the upcoming talks based on their mandated wages and working conditions meetings with members. Typical of SAG-AFTRA, the proposals themselves are being kept under lock and key. However, there is little doubt that they include measures about a rise in contributions to the now merged unions still separated Health and Pension plans as well as increases in minimums and residuals based on the pattern bargaining approach utilized by the DGA and the WGA. The first union to sit down with the studios and networks, the DGA sealed their deal late last year. With their current deal set to expire on June 30, SAG-AFTRA will be led by union prez Ken Howard in the contract talks. Potential NBA Players Union chief and SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White will serve as chief negotiator when the union meets with AMPTP at their Sherman Oaks HQ next month.
The longtime DGA official and former NYC film commissioner died Wednesday. Richard Brick was 68. He worked on films including Sweet And Lowdown, Woody Allen’s Deconstructing Henry and Hangin’ With The Homeboys — for which he earned a 1992 Indie Spirit nom — Silkwood and Places In The Heart. He was a member of the DGA’s Eastern AD/UPM Council for more than a decade, serving as its First Vice Chair for four years while also chairing several of the council’s subcommittees. Brick served on the DGA’s Negotiating Committee in 2011, was a National Board Convention Delegate for five election cycles and was a member of the PAC Leadership Council since 2006. Brick also served as the commissioner of New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting from 1992-94. He also was a film professor at Columbia University and created the Columbia University Film Festival, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2012. Said DGA President Paris Barclay: “Richard spent years in service to his fellow members, advocating passionately on behalf of his assistant director and unit production manager colleagues. As a former New York City film commissioner, Richard had a unique perspective about the needs of our members within the broader entertainment community, giving him valuable experience that he called upon to better protect our creative and economic rights. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”
Abby Singer, a veteran production manager and assistant director and a DGA member for more than 60 years, died this morning of cancer and old age at the Motion Picture & Television Country House in Woodland Hills. He was 96. Singer got his start working as an assistant for Harry Cohn’s right-hand man Jack Fier at Columbia Pictures in 1949 after a stint in the Navy and moved on to Universal in 1957 to work in TV. He eventually landed at Mary Tyler Moore and Grant Tinker’s MTM Productions, where he oversaw such series as Rhoda, Phyllis, The Bob Newhart Show, WKRP In Cincinnati, The White Shadow, Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere. His last film as unit production manager was on 1997′s Family Plan. He later taught at the American Film Institute Conservatory.
But Singer’s name is known to film and TV crews everywhere for a production shot that came to be known as the “Abby Singer shot.” Partly thanks to his training under notorious tightwad Fier, Singer spent his long career honing his skills at saving productions dough, and his idea was to begin moving crew and gear to the next location one shot before the last shot of the day, with the idea that the next location would be set up ahead of time — thereby saving money and precious shooting time. (The last shot of the day, by the way, is known as “the martini.”) Here’s a Spring 2011 interview in the DGA Quarterly with Singer where he recalled how his namesake shot came to be:
“It was probably on Wagon Train, although I can’t be sure,” he says. “Working in TV we made many moves per day—from the back lot to the stage, or from one stage to another. I’d say to the guys, ‘One more shot and then we’re moving,’ so when we moved, they were all prepared. The time saved could add up to a full hour of shooting for the director.”
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 »
Catch up on the stories you missed this week:
Quentin Tarantino Shelves ‘The Hateful Eight’ After Betrayal Results In Script Leak
By Mike Fleming Jr. – EXCLUSIVE: Learning today that his script The Hateful Eight leaked after he gave it to a small circle of actors, Quentin Tarantino tells me that he’s so upset that he has decided that he will not direct that film next.
Rupert Sanders Set To Helm ‘Ghost In The Shell’ For DreamWorks
By Mike Fleming Jr. – EXCLUSIVE: DreamWorks has made a deal with Snow White And The Huntsman helmer Rupert Sanders to direct Ghost In The Shell, a live-action film based on the Japanese manga futuristic police thriller that has a new script from William Wheeler.
Sundance: ‘Whiplash’ & ‘Rich Hill’ Win Grand Jury Awards; Dramatic Directing Goes To Cutter Hodierne For ‘Fishing Without Nets’
By Dominic Patten and Jen Yamato – It was the first major deal of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and tonight Whiplash was the big winner at the fest’s Awards Ceremony. The Damien Chazelle-directed film about a young drummer, played by Miles Teller, and his demanding teacher, played by JK Simmons, took both the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury prize and the Audience Award. Read More »
When they were walking into the 66th Annual Directors Guild Awards tonight people were talking about a possible split year for the Oscars with one film winning Director and another Best Picture. And after the DGA crowned Gravity‘s Alfonso Cuaron as the year’s top director people were walking out saying the same thing. Cuaron was widely expected to win this thing. Gravity is a stand-alone directorial achievement second to none. Any other result would have been regarded as a major upset. A DGA win almost always means a corresponding Directing Oscar and a Directing Oscar almost always means a Best Picture win. Normally we would be wrapping up the race and putting a ribbon on it for Gravity, especially with the DGA coming right after its Producers Guild win a week ago (albeit a tie, but it was still significant). But this is a strange year and such a tight race between the three front-runners, Gravity, 12 Years A Slave and American Hustle that a few votes either way could potentially swing this thing. It’s not even inconceivable that a dark horse could come in in this kind of year. The Guilds so far have not clarified a whole lot. Hustle won the big Cast prize at SAG, Gravity and Slave split the PGA and now Gravity has won at DGA. Next week comes the Writers Guild Awards before a two week lull before the BAFTAs and mailing of Oscar ballots on Presidents Day weekend. But Slave (due to guild-ruled ineligibility) and Gravity aren’t nominated there leaving a good opportunity for Hustle to take back some of the glory – that is unless Her pulls off a win for Original Screenplay and deals a major setback for David O. Russell’s major contender.
Related: 66th DGA Awards: Alfonso Cuarón Wins Best Director For ‘Gravity’
Read More »
UPDATED WITH ALL WINNERS AND SPEECHES: The 66th annual DGA Awards was held tonight at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles, hosted by Jane Lynch. The DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film went to Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity. This was his first DGA nomination. Cuaron reflected on his research for the film, which in many ways, focuses on Gravity‘s philosophical commentary on humanity. “We saw all these photographs of earth from space, and it’s absolutely beautiful; hues of greens and blues,” explained Cuaron, “Everything seems so organic (from space). Those silly lines and boundaries we put on political maps, you can’t see that from space. It’s a bizarre experiment of nature, that is the human experience. And it’s what we as directors try to sort out as filmmakers.” It’s worth recalling that while cuaron hasn’t made a bad movie, getting Gravity made was very difficult. Universal kicked it to the curb after Angelina Jolie dropped out. Warner bros took it in, but it was in peril after Robert Downey Jr. decided not to play the role George Clooney wound up playing. the studio looked at several actresses including Natalie Portman, before deciding on Sandra Bullock. It was a real show of faith by Warner Bros, whose movie chief Jeff Robinov championed the project. It has become an outsized global hit, following in the footsteps of Life Of Pi and Avatar. It was this movie that inspired TriStar’s Tom Rothman to want to make his first film To Reach The Clouds, the Robert Zemeckis directed film about Philippe Petit’s groundbreaking high wire walk from the North to South Tower of the World Trade Center in 1974. They are hoping Joseph Gordon Levitt will play him and that production will begin by summer. In the other major film award, Jehane Noujaim was honored as Best Documentary Director for The Square. TV winners included Vince Gilligan for Breaking Bad’s “Felina” episode, Steven Soderbergh for Behind The Candelabra and Beth McCarthy-Miller for the 30 Rock finale.
DGA Awards Film: ‘Gravity’ Soars With DGA Win For Alfonso Cuaron
Read More »
In this week’s podcast, Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond and host David Bloom wrap up all the guild and other award nomination announcements that landed left and right this past week, including those from BAFTA, the Writers Guild, Directors Guild, Producers Guild, Cinematographers Society and Costume Designers Guild.
They also discuss some of the trends that may be emerging among all those award nominations, clues about where the Oscar races may be headed, whether American Hustle will benefit from that big ensemble cast, and what to expect from this weekend’s Golden Globes.
Deadline Awards Watch podcast 58 (.MP3 version)
Deadline Awards Watch podcast 58 (.M4A version)
Read More »
Yesterday my colleague Pete Hammond said there were “no surprises” in the DGA Awards Film nominees. Well, today the Directors Guild of America delivered even less of a shock as its members ratified the new three-year deal its negotiating committee reached with the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers in late November (after you finish that yawn, read their release below). Same as three years ago, no specific numbers were given just that the approval was by an “overwhelming margin,” according to the DGA. (UPDATE, 11 AM: As you would expect, AMPTP praised the ratification today, though with slightly ominous tones.“We are pleased that the DGA membership has ratified the new contracts. These new agreements will contribute to the stability of the industry by ensuring that feature film and television production - and the jobs dependent on it – can continue without interruption,” said the producers’ group in a statement Wednesday.)
The Guild sent out the new agreements to its 15,000 members on December 18, 2012. With its current deal ending on June 30, the DGA was the first of the guilds this time round to conclude a new Basic Agreement and the Freelance Live and Tape TV Agreement with the studios and networks. While the WGA took the step to announce its negotiating committee on November 13, neither they nor SAG-AFTRA have set a start date for their respective talks with AMPTP. … Read More »
Today’s eagerly awaited DGA nominations are out and there are no surprises in the bunch. Gravity’s Alfonso Cuaron, Captain Phillips’ Paul Greengrass, 12 Years A Slave’s Steve McQueen, American Hustle’s David O. Russell and The Wolf Of Wall Street‘s Martin Scorsese were all odds-on favorites to make the five — and they did. Some might have questioned Scorsese’s chances since the film has become a lightning rod for controversy and was the last major release of the year, meaning the 15,000-member guild voters would have to see it in time to cast their ballot. But c’mon, he’s Martin Scorsese. There would be no denying this achievement among his fellow directors. He has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the guild and 10 other nominations with 3 wins in 3 different categories (The Departed in film, Boardwalk Empire in TV and George Harrison: Living In The Material World in documentary). He’s a god to this guild. Greengrass, McQueen and Cuaron are all first-timers here, while Russell was nominated for 2010′s The Fighter. However, Russell was passed over for a nomination last year for Silver Linings Playbook but went on to receive an Oscar nod for that film anyway.
Generally there is a strong correlation between the DGA and the Oscars. Only seven times has the winner of the DGA Award not gone on to win the Oscar . But the most recent time, last year, was also among the most infamous: Ben Affleck still went on to win the DGA Best Director award for Argo even after the Academy’s much smaller — and quirkier — Directors Branch threw a monkey wrench into the proceedings and snubbed Affleck in its nominations. Life Of Pi’s Ang Lee went on to win the Oscar after losing to Affleck at the DGA, while Argo took Best Picture. In addition to Lee the only agreement the Academy’s Directors Branch had with the DGA was Steven Spielberg’s nomination for Lincoln. It was one of the worst years ever since the DGA Awards were founded in 1948 in terms of a match-up between the guild’s list and Oscar (which also nominated Behn Zeitlin of Beasts Of The Southern Wild and Amour’s Michael Haneke in addition to Russell). I don’t expect the same thing to happen this year. This is a very strong lineup that includes all the likely frontrunners to grab an Academy Directorial nod as well. But as we all learned last year Oscar often has surprises up its sleeve. We’ll see. Read More »
Members of the DGA have three weeks to vote on a new three-year deal its negotiating committee reached with the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers late last month. Ratification packages were sent out this week to the 15,000 DGA members with a January 7, 2014 due date for returning ballots. “This ballot represents your highest responsibility as a Guild member and the core of why the Guild has existed and remained strong for over 77 years – to protect your economic and creative rights and freedoms. The Negotiations Committee and the Guild’s National Board unanimously – and enthusiastically – recommend that you vote YES for ratification of the Agreements,” said guild president Paris Barclay in an accompanying letter. In his first contract agreement as DGA boss, Barclay didn’t go soft on selling the deal to his members, playing up the wage increase provisions. “We successfully achieved critical gains for DGA members in a number of significant areas – the most important of which was to increase wages significantly for members by “breaking the 2s” – the pattern set after the economic downturn of 2008 that affected labor negotiations throughout the industry and resulted in 2% annual wage increases, at best”, he wrote in pitch to members dated December 13. “We succeeded – resulting in what will be 3% wage increases annually.”
Related: DGA Board Approves New Contract With Producers Read More »
Related: DGA, Producers Reach Tentative Deal On New Contract
As expected, the Directors Guild of America Board today unanimously rubber-stamped the new three-year deal its negotiating committee finalized with the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers on Friday. With the board’s approval, the agreement now goes to the DGA’s 15,000 members for ratification to succeed the current Basic Agreement and the Freelance Live and Tape TV Agreement, which expire on June 30, 2014. No word yet on when that voting deadline will be but the DGA expect to announce a date just before the voting packages go out in the next week or so. The board meeting started around 9 AM today at the DGA HQ on Sunset and went into the early afternoon. The deal, which took just two and a half weeks to reach, sees wage increases of 2.5% the first year and 3% for the second and third years of the agreement. It also sees a 0.5% raise up to 16% overall to the Pension Plan, though the DGA can divert that increase to wages if it chooses. Residuals will also increase 2.5% the first year and go up 3% in the second and third years except for network primetime which will go up 2% for each year of the new deal. Taking just over three weeks last time, the DGA/AMPTP negotiations in 2010 for the current contract saw a 2% yearly … Read More »
After just 18 days of negotiations, the Directors Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers announced tonight that they have reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year TV/theatrical contract. The deal will be reviewed Saturday at a special meeting of the DGA’s National Board; if the board approves it, the deal will be sent to the full membership for ratification soon afterward.
Related: NBCU Hires Labor Relations Topper Ahead Of Negotiations
Neither side is commenting tonight. As they have through the negotiations, which began November 4 at AMPTP headquarters in Sherman Oaks, the DGA and the producers have imposed a blackout on details of the tentative agreement until it is approved by the DGA board. Meanwhile, neither the WGA nor the merged SAG-AFTRA has begun their negotiations with the AMPTP. Although the WGA announced its negotiating committee last week, it has yet to set a start date for talks. SAG-AFTRA is not expected to sit down with the producers until early in the new year.
Here’s the DGA release:
Read More »
The Directors Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers are heading to the bargaining table on November 4, more than six months before the current agreement expires. As announced earlier this year, Thomas Schlamme and Michael Apted will serve as co-heads of the DGA’s negotiating committee. The latest three-year Basic Agreement and the Freelance Live and Tape TV Agreement are up on June 30, 2014. Unlike the DGA and SAG-AFTRA, the WGA’s agreement ends on May 1 not June 30, 2014. While the DGA is going first this time, starting in the fall is fairly typical for the guilds. In fact, last time round, SAG had already wrapped up its deal by the fall of 2010 when the DGA started its talks. The last agreement between the AMPTP and the DGA as well as SAG and the WGA back in 2011 saw low single digit increases in pay and pension fund contributions for guild members. Those rather benign negotiations came after the harsh talks of 2008 that followed the 100-day writers strike that shut down Hollywood. Part of the earlier start this time round is, I’m told, also to avoid a repeat of 2001 and 2004 when talks went past the contract expiration date. These negotiations will take place at the Sherman Oaks HQ of the AMPTP. The now merged … Read More »