Daniel Petrie Jr. is about to get a lot more famous in Hollywood.
Petrie, whose previous brush with fame came with an Oscar nom for “Beverly Hills Cop,” leads the WGA West into what will likely be taut negotiations with the studios on April 5, three weeks into his term as president.
Petrie concedes he’ll need a sense of humor as the two sides debate this year’s hot-button issue: DVD residuals.
“I thought that maybe we should do a chart comparing the costs of what we’re asking with the costs of burning down the town,” he muses puckishly.
Negotiations and residuals cover turf that Petrie knows well: He served as WGA prexy from 1997 to 1999 and wrote or co-wrote “The Big Easy,” “Beverly Hills Cop,” “Turner and Hooch,” “Shoot to Kill,” “Toy Soldiers,” and “In the Army Now,” directing the last two.
He promises not to carry a grudge over the disappointing DVD residuals he’s received.
“I’m always delighted to get a residual check because it’s money I wasn’t expecting,” he admits. “Even if we’re able to get the DVD formula changed, it’s only going to affect new films, so I’m not going to get a higher royalty rate for ‘Turner and Hooch.”
Petrie comes into the unpaid slot at a turbulent time following resignations by Victoria Riskin and Charles Holland, plus the Dept. of Labor supervising the new election.
“This is not what I expected I’d be doing,” he admits. “Is it a pleasure? No. Would I rather be doing something else that makes money? Yes. Usually, we writers have attorneys and agents to negotiate for us , so that’s the real pressure.”
He’s aware that expectations have been kicked up and members could vote down a deal, as they did in 1997.
“I like to remember what John Wells said when he was president three years ago — ‘It’s always going to be disappointing for us and painful for the companies.’ ”
On the other hand, the negotiations are a respite from the pressures of his duties as a writer, producer and director, adding, “I’m the world’s worst procrastinator, so I don’t feel so ignoble when I’m in negotiations.”