HOLLYWOOD, JUNE 30 -- Directors prepared today to fade out on Hollywood after producers rejected their latest bid for a share of residuals, opening the way for a first-ever strike by the Directors Guild of America.
The guild's negotiators said they expected to meet with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers at least until the midnight Tuesday contract deadline. And cameras were expected to roll right up to the end to complete as much work as possible.
If directors vote this week to walk off their jobs, theirs would be the third strike to rock Hollywood in three weeks. Actors who supply cartoon character voices walked out more than two weeks ago, and technicians for NBC struck Monday.
A strike by the 8,420-member guild would affect virtually every type of viewer entertainment, bringing a halt to filming and taping of movies and affecting television programs including daytime serials, game shows, prime-time shows and live news and sports programs.
During meetings Monday at the alliance's Sherman Oaks headquarters, producers rejected a guild proposal for shares in theatrical film residuals in all markets, which would kick in after the films had earned a certain amount.
"We made an effort to break the logjam in negotiations, and they rejected it," guild spokesman Chuck Warn said today. "We are now finalizing plans for the most comprehensive strike in the industry's history."
But the latest rejection apparently did not cause a bargaining stalemate.
"Things are changing very rapidly," alliance senior vice president Carol Akiyama said Tuesday of negotiations. "The parties have been exchanging proposals back and forth."
Producers were ready with stockpiled product, Akiyama said.
"On the television side, there is a considerable amount of programming ready for airing this fall," she said. "And where necessary, producers are prepared to continue production to meet their obligations to supply product.
"On the feature side, there is even a long time lag, and principal photography has been completed on many projects for release next year," she said.
The two sides planned to meet until the Tuesday midnight deadline and possibly beyond, with negotiators submitting the producers' final offer to the guild's national committee Wednesday.
The national committee will announce its recommendation during a Wednesday night meeting of West Coast directors in Los Angeles, where a strike vote will be taken. On Thursday, a similar meeting will be held in New York, with the guild announcing results and possible strike plans Friday in New York.
Residuals are the share of profits directors receive for the rerun of their product on television or its sale or licensing to other entertainment entities such as pay and cable television and videocassette.
Directors want a greater share of residuals in what they say is a thriving industry. Producers say their big grosses have been eaten up by even greater costs, and they want to restructure residuals, eliminating some, keeping others on hold and rolling back others.
Overall residual payments to members of the Directors Guild last year totalled $48.7 million, up 11.1 percent over the previous year.
Producers claim that, as a group, they paid $1.3 billion more for production, print and advertising costs than they made last year, while producers of prime-time network television shows face an overall deficit ranging from $154 million to $182 million.
Nearly 40 feature films were wrapped over the past two weeks, many shooting on nights and weekends to get done on time, such as Blake Edwards' "Sunset" for Tri-Star and "Less Than Zero," shooting for 20th Century Fox in New York.
For television, 22 of the 45 series for next season had some completed shows. The biggest producer has been Lorimar, and the biggest beneficiary CBS, with several finished episodes of "Dallas," "Falcon Crest" and "Knots Landing."
Some of No. 1 NBC's top shows, such as "The Cosby Show," "Cheers," "Family Ties" and "Miami Vice," were not able to start early because of movie commitments by their stars.
Currently, a director receives $5,962 for a half-hour prime-time TV show and $11,281 for a one-hour prime-time show. An experienced professional usually negotiates a higher fee.