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January 13, 2010

Digital Media Law

Filed under: Entertainment — showbizreporting @ 3:49 pm
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Baby You Can Drive My Car: Hollywood Health Plans May Have to Pay “Cadillac Plan” Tax
By Jonathan Handel
Posted: 12 Jan 2010 11:59 PM PST

Hollywood unions have long bargained for great health benefits, often foregoing a portion of wage increases in order to fund those benefits (as well as valuable pension benefits). Those health benefits, which are available to middle-class members as well as wealthy stars, would be the envy of most of the country if people elsewhere knew of them: the DGA’s top-tier plan reportedly features 10% in-network co-pays and a deductible of $325 per person in a world where 30% copays and $1,000 deductibles are more common.

However, the Senate version of health care reform would tax a portion of the cost of such high-end plans, resulting in costs that would probably be passed on to members in the form of higher premiums and/or benefit cuts. The President met with union leaders Monday and indicated he may compromise on the issue. Like everything in health care reform, it’s all up in the air until something passes – or if something passes – in this health-insurance benighted nation. For more, see the piece on yesterday’s NY Times Media Decoder blog.

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August 13, 2009

Emmys on schedule?

Emmy ceremony to proceed in real time

TV Academy, CBS ditch plan to time-shift eight categories

By Nellie Andreeva

Aug 12, 2009, 02:13 PM ET

Updated: Aug 12, 2009, 11:04 PM ET

 
More Emmy coverage  

It has been a season of reversals for the Primetime Emmy Awards. First, the ceremony was shifted from Sept. 20, only to be returned to that date two weeks later. Now, in an even bigger about-face, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has scrapped a plan to time-shift eight categories on this year’s broadcast after a firestorm of criticism from the creative community.

As a result, all 28 categories slated for the CBS broadcast will be awarded live.

“This decision was made to mend relationships within the television community and to allow executive producer Don Mischer to focus his full attention on producing the creative elements in the telecast,” TV academy chairman and CEO John Shaffner said. “Our goal is to celebrate the year in television and honor excellence and this year’s great achievements with the support of our industry colleagues and our telecast partner.”

Last month, Mischer proposed and ATAS’ board of governors voted to approve a time-shift of eight awards.

The proposal included mostly longform categories: best movie and best miniseries; writing for movie/miniseries; directing for movie/miniseries; supporting actor and actress in TV movie/miniseries; writing for drama series; and directing for variety, music and comedy series.

“We try to make the Emmys more relevant to mainstream viewers while honoring the choice of the academy properly and appropriately,” Mischer said at the time.

But the move drew criticism from the WGA, DGA, SAG and several networks, including HBO, which dominates the longform field. More than 100 writer-producers, including Shonda Rhimes, Seth MacFarlane, Matthew Weiner and John Wells, signed a letter protesting the decision.

That petition was the wake-up call for the Academy that created the momentum to scrap the plan, WGA West president Patric Verrone said.

“It’s important that the TV Academy appreciates the power that writers and showrunners wield when they work together and they are a force to be reckoned with,” he said.

A main point of contention was that the plan had been drafted without input from the guilds.

After the ill-fated time-shifting announcement, there have been phone conversations between the Academy and WGA.

“There will be more going forward to prevent unilateral decisions like this being made without consulting with a very important part of the creative process — writers,” Verrone said.

The creative community’s public outcry over the plan spilled into the recent Television Critics Assn. press tour, where talent and executives univocally condemned the idea and CBS execs were forced to defend it.

With the backlash showing no signs of subsiding, ATAS, after consulting with CBS, decided to back off.

Mischer said the decision to keep all Emmy categories live “was made because ultimately it is in the best interest of the show” and “in the best interest of the entertainment industry.”

“We had attempted to make room in the show for more live performances. However, our community did not embrace the plan, which is a very important consideration,” he said.

This year’s Emmycast is a crucial one for the academy coming off last year’s ceremony, which hit an all-time ratings low, and entering the final year of its contract with the broadcast networks.

With ratings for other main awards shows rebounding, the academy and CBS have been looking for ways to liven up the telecast, which includes more categories awarded live than its counterparts.

July 21, 2009

DGA to Rosenberg: Go Away Already!

DGA to Rosenberg: Go away already

Michael Apted slams SAG president

The Directors Guild of America has told Screen Actors Guild president Alan Rosenberg to shut up and go away.

That’s the sentiment expressed by outgoing DGA president Michael Apted in a blunt letter responding to Rosenberg’s request for a summit meeting of the town’s unions about the 2011 round of negotiations.

Rosenberg pledged he would make such an effort on June 9, in the aftermath of SAG members’ ratification of the feature-primetime contract. But, in a letter sent Wednesday, Apted made it abundantly clear that Rosenberg’s relentless criticism of the DGA has been so out of line that the DGA’s not remotely interested in any such get-together.

Apted noted that under “normal circumstances,” such a summit meeting to discuss negotiations could take place — but without public proclamations announcing the meeting first.

“Of course, these are not normal circumstances,” Apted said. “Since June 9, I’ve seen repeated statements in the press regarding your intention to call a meeting, yet Monday’s email is the first time you’ve made any effort to contact me in over 18 months. In addition, you’ve repeatedly, and in my opinion unfraternally, attacked the negotiations and contracts of the DGA and other unions in the press and other public forums. So, in the circumstances, I’m very surprised that you would consider yourself to be in a position to convene an event that requires trust and fraternity to have any chance of success.”

Apted concluded the letter by saying, “On behalf of the DGA, I respectfully decline your request.”

Rosenberg told Daily Variety he was disappointed over Apted’s response.

“It’s a shame that what had been a private communication has become public,” he said. “I’m disappointed that Michael Apted doesn’t share my belief in the importance of building unity among the unions because our collective efforts should be towards obtaining a decent deal in two years. What’s happened at past negotiations doesn’t really matter now.”

The SAG president’s power to speak officially on behalf of the guild was taken away in late January as part of the move by the board’s moderates to oust former SAG national exec director Doug Allen.

But there’s been bad blood between the guilds dating back to Jan. 29, 2008 — when Rosenberg and Allen blasted the DGA’s tentative contract agreement with the majors, which eventually served as the template for the WGA, AFTRA and SAG contracts. Rosenberg and Allen criticized many of the specifics of the deal in a message sent to SAG members.

Apted responded on the same day by accusing SAG of throwing a monkey wrench into the talks between the WGA and majors that would ultimately settle the scribes’ 100-day walkout.

“Their letter has one purpose and one purpose only: to interfere with the informal talks currently under way between the WGA and the studios,” Apted said at the time. “Simply put, their assumptions and arguments are specious. The DGA deal is a great deal for our members.”

AFTRA president Roberta Reardon said last week that there had been no movement toward a summit meeting. She had proposed the idea a year ago but said last Friday that she’d wait until after the SAG elections in September before exploring such a step.

An AFTRA rep said that Los Angeles Local President Ron Morgan received an invitation earlier this week from Rosenberg to meet at his home on Aug. 3 to discuss “building solidarity” between the entertainment labor unions. But she added that AFTRA leaders won’t be available.

“AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon never received an invitation,” the rep added. “The entire AFTRA leadership team will be in Chicago from Monday, August 3 through Sunday, August 9 for the Convention and other related union meetings, which have been scheduled for more than a year.”

WGA West spokesman Neal Sacharow said that WGA West president Patric Verrone — who will be termed out of office in September — will attend the Aug. 3 meeting at Rosenberg’s home. Besides Apted, Verrone and Morgan, Rosenberg also invited Michael Miller, VP of the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.

“The refrain I heard most often during this past negotiating season is that we had to ‘build solidarity between our organizations’ in preparation for 2011,” Rosenberg said in the invite. “I would like to invite you to what, I hope, will be the first in a series of informal, discussions designed to create that unity. In general, I would like to explore those areas where we share common ground, and how we might develop strategies that will benefit our respective members.”

July 17, 2009

DGA tell Rosenberg

Speaks volumes about the future.

Michael Apted slams SAG president – By Dave McNary July 17. 2009

The Directors Guild of America has told Screen Actors Guild president Alan Rosenberg to shut up and go away.

That’s the sentiment expressed by outgoing DGA president Michael Apted in a blunt letter responding to Rosenberg’s request for a summit meeting of the town’s unions about the 2011 round of negotiations.

Rosenberg pledged he would make such an effort on June 9, in the aftermath of SAG members’ ratification of the feature-primetime contract. But, in a letter sent Wednesday, Apted made it abundantly clear that Rosenberg’s relentless criticism of the DGA has been so out of line that the DGA’s not remotely interested in any such get-together.

Apted noted that under “normal circumstances,” such a summit meeting to discuss negotiations could take place — but without public proclamations announcing the meeting first.

“Of course, these are not normal circumstances,” Apted said. “Since June 9, I’ve seen repeated statements in the press regarding your intention to call a meeting, yet Monday’s email is the first time you’ve made any effort to contact me in over 18 months. In addition, you’ve repeatedly, and in my opinion unfraternally, attacked the negotiations and contracts of the DGA and other unions in the press and other public forums. So, in the circumstances, I’m very surprised that you would consider yourself to be in a position to convene an event that requires trust and fraternity to have any chance of success.”

Apted concluded the letter by saying, “On behalf of the DGA, I respectfully decline your request.”

Rosenberg told Daily Variety he was disappointed over Apted’s response.

“It’s a shame that what had been a private communication has become public,” he said. “I’m disappointed that Michael Apted doesn’t share my belief in the importance of building unity among the unions because our collective efforts should be towards obtaining a decent deal in two years. What’s happened at past negotiations doesn’t really matter now.”

The SAG president’s power to speak officially on behalf of the guild was taken away in late January as part of the move by the board’s moderates to oust former SAG national exec director Doug Allen.

But there’s been bad blood between the guilds dating back to Jan. 29, 2008 — when Rosenberg and Allen blasted the DGA’s tentative contract agreement with the majors, which eventually served as the template for the WGA, AFTRA and SAG contracts. Rosenberg and Allen criticized many of the specifics of the deal in a message sent to SAG members.

Apted responded on the same day by accusing SAG of throwing a monkey wrench into the talks between the WGA and majors that would ultimately settle the scribes’ 100-day walkout.

“Their letter has one purpose and one purpose only: to interfere with the informal talks currently under way between the WGA and the studios,” Apted said at the time. “Simply put, their assumptions and arguments are specious. The DGA deal is a great deal for our members.”

AFTRA president Roberta Reardon said last week that there had been no movement toward a summit meeting. She had proposed the idea a year ago but said last Friday that she’d wait until after the SAG elections in September before exploring such a step.

The WGA said it has not been approached by Rosenberg about such a summit meeting.

An AFTRA rep said that Los Angeles Local President Ron Morgan received an invitation earlier this week from Rosenberg to meet at his home on Aug. 3 to discuss “building solidarity” between the entertainment labor unions. But she added that AFTRA leaders won’t be available.

“AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon never received an invitation,” the rep added. “The entire AFTRA leadership team will be in Chicago from Monday, August 3 through Sunday, August 9 for the Convention and other related union meetings, which have been scheduled for more than a year.”

WGA West spokesman Neal Sacharow said Thursday, “The WGA has not been approached by Alan Rosenberg about such a summit meeting.”

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