DAILY NEWS: Talks Today Try to Avert Strike; SF Jewish Fest; LA Fest Opener
by Eugene Hernandez and Brian Brooks/indieWIRE
>> WGA and AMPTP Return to Table Today; May 1st Strike Deadline Looms; SAG Considers "Interim Agreements" for Indies in the Event of June 30th Work Stoppage
(indieWIRE/04.17.01) -- Hollywood has been anticipating debilitating strikes
for months now and the likelihood of such a work stoppage seemed even more
likely last week with no new talks scheduled and a looming deadline.
However, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion
Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) will return to the negotiating
table with only two weeks to go before the deadline for a deal.
Today, at the Writers Guild headquarters in Los Angeles, sides will meet for
the first time in weeks, trying to avert a walkout on May 1st. A WGA strike
could be compounded by a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) strike at the end of
June. That potential has become the subject of increasing speculation within
industry circles as members monitor organization's websites and trade
publication reports on the chess match.
While the WGA is quiet going into today's talks, SAG is downplaying the
"strike hysteria," but also taking a wait and see approach as the writers head
to the table. "We believe there's a deal to be made before our contract expires
on June 30th," SAG President Bill Daniels wrote in a message to members on
the Guild's Internet site. "I've also been led to believe that the WGA
remains optimistic about achieving an agreement before their contract
deadline of May 1st." SAG will not schedule a start date for its
negotiations until the WGA finishes the new round of talks that begin today.
Warning that talk of a likely strike benefits employers, SAG's chief
negotiator Brian Walton added in a message on the SAG site, "While I think a
strike is unlikely, it is not out of the question."
In the meantime, SAG is making preparations to deal with independent
productions, should a strike happen. Explaining that indie producers have
requested an "Interim Agreement" for film and TV projects that are finished
shooting by June 30 when the current SAG agreement expires, the Guild has
put out a call for guidance in creating such a document. A downloadable
questionnaire for indie producers is currently available on the front page
of the SAG site.
"Interim agreements," SAG writes on its website, "typically are employed
only in the event of a strike. As stated, the Guild's negotiators will look
at all options, not only interim agreements." Continuing, the Guild adds,
"To develop such options, the Guild is seeking input from all producing
entities that are seeking to continue production. This review is now
underway." [Eugene Hernandez]
>> "Trembling Before G-d" and "Once We Grow Up" Bookend Bay Area Jewish Festival
(indieWIRE/04.17.01) -- A U.S. premiere will kick off the 21st San Francisco
Jewish Film Festival focusing this edition on a special program for young
people in addition to new work from around the world. Closing the Festival
taking place at the Castro Theatre in addition to sites in neighboring
cities, San Rafael, Menlo Park and Berkeley is Teddy Award winning doc
(Berlin Film Festival),"Trembling Before G-d " by Sandi Simcha Dubowski. The film takes a look at followers of Orthodoxy wrestling with their closeted homosexuality.
Renaud Cohen's romantic comedy "Once We Grow Up" about an Algerian-Jewish writer in modern-day Paris starring Mathieu Demy ("Jeanne and the Perfect Guy") will open the fest, which is scheduled for July 19-26.
This year, a new program organized by Festival Associate Director Sam Ball
will give a group of 15-19 year olds the opportunity to attend Festival
screenings and work on writing, directing and editing a film of their own.
The film will premiere during the 2002 San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.
[For more information, visit: http://www.sfjff.org.]
>> LA Fest to Open with Burns' New York "Sidewalks"
(indieWIRE/04.17.01) -- The Los Angeles Film Festival will kick off its
first year as a program of the IFP/West later this week and the event has
set its "surprise" opening night movie. Ed Burns latest, "The Sidewalks of
New York," will kick off the fest when it opens at the DGA on Friday night.
"Sidewalks," Burns' fourth film as a director, features Heather Graham,
Stanley Tucci, David Krumholtz, Brittany Murphy, Rosario Dawson, and Dennis Farina. The comedy is set to be released by Paramount Classics in July.
"Edward Burns has truly captured the heart and soul of the modern romantic
comedy," commented LA Fest director Richard Raddon in a prepared statement,
"We're elated to usher in the dawn of a new festival by premiering such a
humorous and spirited film."
[For more information, visit: http://www.lafilmfest.com.]