Friday, January 18, 2008

What the DGA might mean for Season 4

The hot news in the entertainment world is that the Directors Guild of America (DGA) has just signed a tentative contract with the producer's group (AMPTP), the same group the Writer's Guild (WGA) is currently striking against. The DGA has a reputation for negotiating early (their contract doesn't expire until early summer), and also a reputation for getting what they want.

One line of conventional wisdom is that the WGA and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) will use this agreement as a template for their own negotiations. The WGA's ranks are not impervious during the course of this strike, and a quick agreement based on the DGA contract will be a likely demand of much of the membership. For now, SAG, which has historically been more friendly with the WGA, is also likely going to adopt a wait-and-see game, as their contract expiration (and possible strike date) isn't until June.

As for Lost, I have recently had the feeling since the Christmas season came and went without a writer's deal that the second half of Season 4 would likely be scrapped for the season. Hiring back the laid-off film and post-production crew becomes more logistically difficult the longer the work stoppage lasts. However if the WGA can bootstrap their own deal based on the DGA's template within this month, the finishing of the second half of Lost Season 4 might be an outside possibility. Remember that even the DGA's deal is only preliminary, and has not been put to vote by either their executive board or general membership. Further if the WGA does not want to back off its initial demands (for example, see Marketwatch), the writers' goal would probably be to extend the strike until June when SAG could potentially join them in a truly industry-stopping dual strike. In that case, we might not see new episodes of Lost until Fall 2009. But if you're a television fan, remember that (if the current pilot-season structure is preserved) this would further mean that we may not see any newly minted television series filmed until 2009, and not actually broadcast until 2010.

For more information see: see the DGA's announcement, and detailed articles by The Washington Post and industry journal Variety, as well as Google News.)

UPDATE: As expected, talks between writers and producers may be kickstarted next week, when they will be meeting again. Read more at Variety. Apparently the WGA leadership is now under immense pressure to settle from different factions among its own membership. Is the posturing and spiteful atmosphere that characterized the previous negotiations finally going to give way to actual. . . negotiating? Next week will tell.
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