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Directors Guild and Studios Makes Tentative Deal as Writers Continue to Strike

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The Directors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers struck a tentative agreement late Saturday for a new three-year contract, as per The Hollywood Reporter. The union and representatives from the top studios and streamers entered discussions amid significant industry tumult, as the Writers Guild has now entered its second month of striking. 

The deal includes “gains in wages and benefits, streaming residuals, AI protections”—all points of contention over which the WGA and AMPTP failed to come to terms. The next step is a special meeting on Tuesday among the DGA’s national board, which will be followed by a membership vote to ratify the new contract. 

Jon Avnet, chair of the DGA’s negotiating committee (and director of films as diverse as Fried Green Tomatoes and Righteous Kill), called it a “truly historic deal” and cited “significant improvements” in the areas of “wages, streaming residuals, safety, creative rights and diversity, as well as securing essential protections for our members on new key issues like artificial intelligence.” (THR‘s report goes into granular detail.)

The DGA’s current contract is set to expire on June 30. The DGA and AMPTP entered negotiations on May 10, eight days after the WGA began their strike. Moreover, SAG-AFTRA (the union representing actors), whose contract also expires on June 30, has urged its members to pre-authorize a (last resort) strike option against the AMPTP. The deadline to vote on that is (checks calendar) tomorrow, June 5. Negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP begin on June 7.

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The newly announced agreement obviously has repercussions for the other two unions. While Avnet and his team are taking a victory lap, some on the picket line have a different interpretation. Striking writers reacting to the news were quick to weigh in. 

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Steven DeKnight, whose credits include the series Spartacus, Smallville, and the film Pacific Rim: Uprising tweeted that “the DGA sadly continues to toe the line, knowing that they can draft off of the WGA’s resolve to strike for a truly historic deal. Disappointing, but not surprising.” Amy Berg, whose credits include Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan and Warrior Nun, tweeted that “the DGA was able to use the power of the WGA’s labor action to secure a deal that works for them” and added: “We proposed a number of these terms… before the AMPTP cut off negotiations in order to hand a deal to the DGA. They will continue to not speak to us, offering them next to SAG. But we have needs in areas they don’t, and will secure a deal that works for us. This isn’t it.”

It all gets very complex because many Hollywood creators are members of both groups. The WGA, however, does have concerns that are less germane to the other unions, like the introduction of “mini-rooms” in the development of (predominantly) streaming television shows. 

Thunder Levin, a writer on most of the Sharknado pictures and director of Mutant Vampire Zombies from the ‘Hood, put the day’s ambiguity into a tweet that read, “As a director, I’m glad to hear negotiations were fruitful.  As a writer, I fear this means the strike will last a long time, though we’ll have to see what the actors do…”

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