A Watchdog Exclusive: The “behind the scenes” architect of the scheme to whipsaw actors and writers into giving up union jurisdiction on the Internet and out of residuals.
In a previous article, I posted a July, 11th, 2007 New York Times article Headlined, “Hollywood Executives Call for End to Residual Payments!” The article by Michael Cieply started with the opening paragraph:
Some of those AMPTP executives and their cohorts were instrumental in devising the new media formulas, eventually, used to coerce the entertainment guilds into accepting their non-union signatories/no-residual scheme.
The machinations began with the meeting between high-priced entertainment lawyer Ken Ziffren, once discribed as “the Pope of Hollywood’s Epiphany” and DGA National Executive Director Jay Roth–who later brought in Disney’s CEO Bob Iger and Peter Chernin, Chairman and CEO, the Fox Group. (Ziffren pictured at the right.)
Mr. Ziffren said about the issues under discussion, “They agreed that these key issues should be handled by a small group of people who were expert in these areas in the real world. Gil and Jay designated myself and [DGA general counsel] David Korduner as the DGA negotiators, and Peter and Bob designated Mark Pettowitz and Howard Kurtzman as the studio negotiators for the AMPTP (DGA Quarterly 2008)
HmmmI guess that they kept the group small, b-b-because they didn’t have room. Probably, the reason they didn’t invite SAG NED Doug Allen or the WGA’s Executive Director, David Young. Not that they were trying to keep anything from them.
So, anyway, this cozy little group of Jay Roth, head of, what some refer to as, the DGA/Producers Guild, advisor Ken Ziffren, whose firm represents DreamWorks, and Liberty Media Corporation; a Major distributor of TV entertainment, sports and other programming including Discovery Channel, USA, QVC, Encore, and STARZ (Oh an his firm represents Tom Hankshmmm.), Disney’s Bob Iger and Fox’s Peter Chernin, to hammer out formulas and proposals that would benefit the whole entertainment industry. Right? Anyway, this all happened before their formal negotiations which began during the writers strike.
Now, even though, all in that cozy little producer-friendly group set in place formulas that they had to know would undermine the WGA’s proposals and strike efforts that didn’t stop them. Not only that but they knew they would undermine SAG’s negotiations, due to the AMPTP insistence on their favorite little “Whipsawing” tactic “pattern bargaining,” But, but, they went ahead and signed it anyway. As I said neither SAG nor the Writers where invited. Neat, huh?
Oh, but, but after the deal had been announced in the middle of the writers strike, and after the WGA called, they did finally let the writers in on their DEAL. By then they had effectively cut the legs out from under the writers who ‘stubbled’ back to the table, where the good cop contingent of the AMPTP, stepped in and saved the day! Right!
Iger and Chernin came in, and added the final touches to the WGA capitulation. Hmmm, again…Iger and Chernin, haven’t I heard those names beforewait, yes, by golly, they’re the same guys who, in cahoots with Attorney Ziffren and DGA Joe Roth, cooked up the deal in the first place. Scribes and Scribettes, YOU WAS WHIPSAWED!
So, as all can plainly see, this cozy little producer-friendly group affectively screwed the writers into signing an agreement including their primary goal of allowing signatories to do non-union internet shows with NO RESIDUALS.
But, but HOLD ON FOLKS, their “Pattern Bargaining” Whipsawing was only half accomplished. Now it was SAG’s turn, and what better way to do it than with their compliant “go-along-to-get-along” pals at AFTRA.
And what better guy to help them do it than their trusty advisor, Ken Ziffren.
Yep, Ol’ Ken became AFTRA’s advisor in signing their sweetheart deal with the AMPTP! Voila! Just as Ken had advised the DGA in successfully undermining the WGA, he successfully helped AFTRA’s leadership into undermining SAG’s efforts to insist that signatories do only union shows, and to save residuals for actors. Okay, okay, they, also, had the help of the AFTRA/USAN/UFS/AMPTP First accomplices headed by their big name spokesperson, Tom Hanks.
Oh, did I mention that Tom was one of Ken Ziffren’s clients?
A.L. Miller SW Editor & Chief
You can read the DGA article by clicking the following link.