Hollywood directors hold talks due to writers strike

Thu Dec 13, 2007 5:46pm EST
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By Sue Zeidler

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood directors said on Thursday they would delay opening contract talks with major film studios until at least January to give striking screenwriters time to restart their own stalled negotiations.

Industry watchers believe the launch of Directors Guild of America contract talks would undermine the position of striking writers because the directors are widely regarded as less militant and more likely to reach a deal acceptable to the studios.

Last week more than 300 writer-directors, including Sean Penn, Ed Zwick and Lawrence Kasdan, signed a letter to leaders of the Directors Guild urging them not open negotiations with the studios until the Writers Guild of America (WGA) settles its dispute.

Talks between the studios and the WGA collapsed in acrimony last week, dashing hopes for a speedy end to a strike by 10,500 screenwriters that began November 5. The walkout has crippled the TV industry, derailed several high-profiled movies and left thousands of production workers in Hollywood out of work.

No further talks have yet been scheduled.

The Directors Guild, whose current contract covering some 13,000 members expires on June 30, has a history of concluding labor agreements with the industry months in advance.

But in a letter to members on Thursday, DGA president Michael Apted and negotiations chair Gil Cates said they will wait until January 1 to see if the WGA renews its own talks with the studios' bargaining entity, the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP).

"Although the DGA has a long history of early negotiations, this year we held off starting our own formal talks with the AMPTP for two months out of respect for our sister guild," Apted and Cates wrote.   Continued...

<p>Striking members of the Writers Guild of America, West rally in Hollywood, California November 20, 2007. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>