The DGA loves to be early when it comes to negotiations.
Two days after the Writers Guild announced its negotiating team for this summer’s talks, the DGA chimed in Feb. 8 with news that it had named Gil Cates to head its negotiating team — nearly 17 months before the DGA contract expires.
Cates, an easygoing sort known for his conciliatory style, insists it’s standard for the DGA to make such a move, but the timing of the announcement spotlights the contrast with the WGA’s strategy: Begin talks as late as possible.
The DGA’s announcement is sure to heighten speculation that if the WGA’s talks derail this summer — certainly a possibility, given the sour relations between the writers and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers — the DGA will step in and make a deal, setting a template for the WGA and SAG.
That’s exactly what happened in 2004, when the WGA couldn’t make studios and networks budge on the two-decade-old DVD residual rates. The DGA reached the conclusion that even a strike wouldn’t change the minds of the companies and made a deal, with its biggest gains in health and pension contributions.
Within six months, the WGA and SAG followed suit.