More than 400 attendees — and many top Hollywood players — assembled Thursday night for a heartfelt sendoff for DGA National Executive Director Jay D. Roth, who’s retiring after more than two decades.
The 90-minute tribute at the DGA Theatre highlighted Roth’s penchant for preparation and truthfulness in conducting seven contract negotiations with the companies during his tenure. Michael Apted, the current DGA secretary-treasurer, evoked a major laugh when he asserted that one of Roth’s key techniques was to get both sides to agree initially on the facts.
“Together we agreed — there weren’t to be alternate facts on his watch,” Apted added. “He always knew what we had to have at negotiations and what we could pass on.”
Several speakers stressed Roth was able to be effectively blunt. “Jay can really be tough,” said former Warner Bros. topper Barry Meyer. “Not screaming and yelling tough, but Don Corleone tough — soft-spoken tough.”
Carol Lombardini, president of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, said, “A friendship with Jay is not for the faint of heart.”
The gathering had plenty of light-hearted moments, such as DGA President Paris Barclay thanking Roth for not forcing him to go golfing. Roth himself gave thanks his eighth grade shop teacher Mr. Jacobs for showing candor to his parents via a note that said, “Jay is going to fail wood shop; you need to find another path.”
Roth’s replacement Russell Hollander provoked big laughs by displaying a photo of wild-haired Roth’s taxi license from 1972. He also asked the audience, “Have you ever had a conversation with Jay where you knew more than he did?”
Barclay presented Roth with a trip to New Zealand to play golf at an exclusive club on the north island, adding, “We are happy to feed your addiction.”
Roth closed out the tribute by saying, “We don’t do anything alone. We understand that through the commonality of our effort, we better serve this wonderful industry. I love you all. Now let’s have a drink.”
High-profile executives in attendance included Disney chairman Robert Iger, Paramount Pictures chief Jim Gianopulos, Warner Bros. Entertainment CEO Kevin Tsujihara and Dawn Hudson, CEO of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Union leaders included SAG-AFTRA national executive director David White, Teamsters Local 399 secretary-treasurer Steve Dayan and SAG-AFTRA senior adviser John McGuire.
(Pictured: Jay D. Roth, left, with directors Jon Favreau and Michael Mann)