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Will the DGA deal save the Oscars?

January 17, 2008 |  5:57 pm

Now that an agreement has been struck so quickly between DGA and Hollywood producers (click here for details), it makes you wonder: Was Oscarcast producer Gil Cates — who is a chief negotiator for DGA — counting on this all along to save his awards show?

He seemed very confident the other day when assuring reporters that the Oscarcast would go on, rain or shine, heck or high Dgapqwater, on Feb. 24. He hinted that the academy had a Secret Plan in the works for an alternative telecast, but refused to reveal details. Frankly, I think he was bluffing. I think his secret plan is the same as Nixon's to end the Vietnam war, which he dangled, brilliantly, on the eve of the U.S. presidential elections in 1972. In other words: it's a shrewd stall tactic till the crunch period ends. What could Cates' secret Plan C possibly be? A taped clip-show alternative didn't work for the People's Choice Awards. The Golden Globes' televised press conference was slammed. And what happens if the WGA strike doesn't get settled and he suddenly has show us the alleged TV trick up his sleeve?

But Cates sure seemed supremely confident the other day when chatting with reporters, then — wham, bam — a DGA/ producers' deal was struck a day or so later. Clearly, that those things are linked.


Now some observers are saying that "pattern bargaining" may apply to the writers, who may have just been waiting for the helmers to come up with a template that may apply to them. The directors agreed to twice the compensation they previously got for TV shows downloaded on the internet "and raised the rate for movie downloads by 80 percent," reports "What's more, directors will be compensated for advertising-supported streaming of shows for the first time."

Would that be sufficient for writers? They currently get .3 percent (yes, point-three percent; there's a decimal point in front of that number) of DVD sales and are asking for 2.5 percent of those sales plus web and mobile-device revenues in the future.


"An agreement reached today between Hollywood studios and directors doesn't mean writers will be ending their 11-week strike," Forbes warns. "Directors and screenwriters have very different ways of looking at new media. Hollywood's directors are far less dependent on — and thus concerned about — residuals than their screenwriting counterparts."

Somewhere in Hollywood right now Gil Cates is toasting this deal with one hand raised and the other, hidden behind his back, no doubt has two fingers crossed as we wait for response from WGA. Not only is he hoping that this news will save his kudocast, but that he'll never have to reveal what his Secret Alternative Show might have been.