UPDATED with more details: Hollywood is bidding farewell tonight to Jay Roth, who recently retired after 22 years as the DGA’s national executive director. The by-invitation-only send-off, which is going on now at the DGA’s headquarters in Hollywood, is being attended by a slew of the industry’s top movers and shakers.
Industry execs on hand include Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company; Jim Gianopulos, chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures; Kevin Tsujihara, chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment; Barry Meyer, former chairman of Warner Bros Entertainment; Dawn Hudson, CEO of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; Association of Talent Agents executive director Karen Stewart, and AMPTP president Carol Lombardini, fresh from her ongoing contract negotiations with SAG-AFTRA.
Union leaders saying their good-byes include SAG-AFTRA national executive director David White, Teamsters Local 399 secretary-treasurer Steve Dayan, SAG-AFTRA senior adviser John McGuire and a recorded message from IATSE president Matt Loeb.
A whole host of DGA officials, past and present, were also on hand, including Roth’s successor, Russ Hollander, and his predecessor, Glenn Gumpel. Also from the DGA: president Paris Barclay, former president Martha Coolidge, secretary treasurer Michael Apted, first vice president Betty Thomas, board member Michael Mann and former fifth vice president Bob Butler.
The evening was a celebration of Roth’s life, his history, his smarts, his love of the guild and its members, and his golf game. Barclay said the guild is only now dealing with the seven stages of grief at Roth’s departure — one of which, aptly enough, is bargaining. Roth, however, will still be hanging around the guild as a consultant.
Apted spoke eloquently about Roth’s passion for detail and his preparedness going into contract talks. “We wouldn’t ply our craft as directors and guild members had Jay not been so adept at plying his.”
Thomas, always funny when she’s not being dead serious, described him as “intensely smart and intensely intense, and also, crazy fun” — a leader who “engaged the members, improved our lives, and helped us all do the right thing.”
One of Roth’s trademarked sayings is “Know the other side’s needs and proposals as well as your own,” and Lombardini, who sat across from him at the bargaining table, and described his “extraordinary ability to connect with people” as one of the reasons he was such a great negotiator. “He expanded the DGA’s role in the worldwide creative community,” she said.
“Jay can really be tough,” Meyer noted. “Not screaming and yelling tough, but Don Corleone tough — soft-spoken tough.”
Roth is widely regarded as one of the smartest guys in Hollywood, but his successor showed that he’s been a good student. One of the lessons Hollander said he learned from Roth is that “the industry sinks or swims together.” Another is that “good agreements are those where both sides succeed.”
“I love this guild and I love the members of this guild,” Roth said after taking the stage to a standing ovation. He thanked the guild’s staff; the labor relations execs he sat across the bargaining table from, and he thanks his fellow union leaders. “We don’t do anything alone,” he said. “We understand that through the commonality of our effort, we better serve this wonderful industry.”
“I love you all,” he told the audience. “Now let’s have a drink.” And with that, he began his retirement.