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DGA Signs Deal with AMPTP; What Does It Mean for This Season?

Well, at least we're going into the three-day weekend with some positive strike-related news for a change, though it's still unclear whether the deal signed between the DGA and the AMPTP, signed after six days of meetings, bodes well for a return to the bargaining table in that other dispute.

“Two words describe this agreement - groundbreaking and substantial,” said Gil Cates, DGA Negotiations Committee chair. “The gains in this contract for directors and their teams are extraordinary – and there are no rollbacks of any kind.”

Among the highlights of the deal are increases in wages and residual bases for each year of the three-year contract, DGA jurisdiction over original programming produced for the Internet, new residual formulas for EST (double the current rate), and residual rates for ad-supported streaming and use of clips on the Internet. The new agreement will be submitted to the DGA's National Board for approval on January 26th.

(For more on the DGA deal, check out this op-ed piece in The Los Angeles Times on why the deal makes sense, written by DGA president Michael Apted.)

While it will take a few days for the WGA to carefully look over the specifics of the deal, many here in Hollywood agree that it's a positive step in the right direction and could signal a thawing of relations between the Writers Guild and the AMPTP. Some pundits felt that the accord meant that the WGA would have to give up side issues like reality fare and animation in order to structure a deal similar to the DGA agreement, which would put pressure on the WGA's leadership to sign a deal quickly. (That remains to be seen.)

So what does this deal mean for the struggling 2007-08 season? Can it be saved? Variety had the following to say on the subject:
Should a deal be hammered out within the next month, network and studio insiders have said that portions of this TV season -- as well as pilot season -- could still be salvaged.

It would be on a case-by-case basis: Some series could power back up relatively quickly and churn out at least a few more episodes this year, if not an entire back nine order.

[...] Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry told KABC-TV that a strike settlement in the next two weeks would let him produce most of the episodes that had been planned for this season.

Some showrunners and execs were looking at Valentine's Day as a key date, believing that if a deal is done by then, they could still finish up the season -- particularly if networks are willing to air original episodes in June and July.
So it looks like all eyes will be on that February 14th line in the sand. I'm not sure how realistic is it is to say that many shows could actually complete their back nine episodes this season. Pushing Daisies creator Bryan Fuller told E! Online, "If the strike is resolved in the next three weeks, there is a slim chance that shows could come back and produce four or five additional episodes to wrap up their seasons. If it isn't resolved by mid-February, then, yes, that's pretty much it for the 2007-08 season."

For some returning series, especially heavily serialized fare like Lost or 24, it's probable that they have already broken stories and could hopefully get the scripts written sooner rather than later.

Still, others were a lot less decidedly sunny about the possibilities of series getting back on track during this current season, according to E! Online's Kristen:
Crew members who work on to [sic] two mainstream, fan-favorite TV shows tell me they were informed this week that it is "extremely unlikely" they will be producing any more episodes this season whether the strike ended soon or not.

According to one below-the-line crew member: "We were told that even if the strike ends soon, we won't be doing any more episodes until next season, because it just won’t work." (These sources requested that their shows not be named.)

It's still speculation about whether any series would be able to return or not and with each network heavy under the weight of so much reality fare, I'd expect to see many sink into the shadows for now, hopefully to return next season with a fresh batch of episodes. Plus, will the networks really air top-notch first-run scripted programming during the slow summer months, a time traditionally reserved for burn-offs, repeats, and reality?

Speaking of next season, it's still unclear what the affect would be on the sagging pilot season, already underway. Many felt that studios would simply pick three or four pilot scripts and simply order them to series for next season, rather than shoot a dozen or so pilot episodes at this point... which would mean that the May Upfronts, when networks unveil their fall schedules to advertisers, could still happen, albeit in a slightly scaled-down way. Signs are definitely leaning towards this theory, especially as the networks continue to move towards a year-round development model, with some insisting that this is their approach.

As for me, I'm hoping that the DGA deal gives the WGA some flexibility and that both sides return to the bargaining table in good faith to hammer out a deal that gives the writers fair and equal pay and gets everyone--writers, directors, actors, and below-the-line crew--back to work sooner rather than later.


Anonymous said…
I'm very happy that the DGA was able to come to an agreement so quickly but wonder why this situation was so different from the WGA's negotiations. Isn't the DGA deal similar to what the writers are asking for?
The CineManiac said…
Personally I think it's because they wanted to wait out the 8 weeks so they could use the Force Majuer clause to cancel whichever contracts they wanted.
Anonymous said…
CMON already lets all be fair here.... just give them what they want already who cares.... who has a bigger ego here.. I want my shows back :(

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