Deadline brings us up to date on the Writers Guild of America’s contract discussions with the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers. The article works hard to downplay the differences, but the question remains: Why start out the talks by insulting the writers and getting their dander up? Are the rollbacks a ploy…or are they real?
by Dominic Patten
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.”
Opening salvos and tensions aside, the way things stand right now, the expectation is that “pattern bargaining” will hold sway and everything that was in the deal the DGA made with the producers late last year will basically be in the agreement the WGA comes to after a few weeks. Not that it won’t be a possibly bumpy road to get there. “Things might blow up a bit, though right now it could come from either side,” said a studio exec close to the talks.