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Directors Guild Executive Director Jay Roth to Step Down

Variety logo Variety 1/18/2017 Dave McNary
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Jay D. Roth, the longtime national executive director of the Directors Guild of America, will retire in the late spring.

Directors Guild of America President Paris Barclay made the announcement on Wednesday.

“Jay’s entire professional career has been dedicated to representing people and helping to make their lives better — early on as a civil rights and labor lawyer, and for more than three decades, as an essential part of the DGA’s life as its greatest adviser, defender, and coach,” Barclay said.

Barclay revealed that Roth’s retirement has been under discussion for some time, but that Roth had agreed to stay on to negotiate the DGA’s master contract. The guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers reached a tentative deal on Dec. 23; that pact — featuring a significant gain in streaming residuals — was ratified by the national board and sent out last month for approval by the 16,000 members of the DGA.

“Over a year ago, Jay began a conversation with the Guild about a plan to retire from his role as national executive director. At the request of our National Board, he agreed to continue in his position through the negotiations of our recently announced contract — a decision for which we honor Jay, and which reflects his genuine, unwavering dedication and loyalty to the DGA and its members. With negotiations now behind us, Jay will move forward with his planned retirement from his role as national executive director later this spring. But we couldn’t let him go completely. To our great fortune, at that time, he will transition to a role with us as senior adviser.”

A succession plan will be announced next month following the DGA National Board meeting.

Roth joined the DGA in 1995 after serving a decade as its outside counsel and maintained a low profile throughout his tenure. He was the chief negotiator for eight successor deals to the master contract.

He led the DGA negotiations during the bitter 2007-08 Writers Guild of America strike after the WGA-AMPTP negotiations cratered in December of 2007. The DGA’s subsequent deal, which extended jurisdiction in new media, served as the outline for the WGA’s successor deal, which ended the strike after 100 days.

“The DGA has been, and continues to be, a tremendous part of my life,” Roth said. “I joined not only because it is a top-notch organization with proud traditions and solid governance,   but also because its membership and staff had an established culture of rowing the boat the same way, and an understanding of who leads and makes policy — and who advises and executes.”

“I’m proud of what we’ve all accomplished together to build the Guild and advance our mission of protecting the creative and economic rights of our members — every single new contract, compensation increase, residual, creative right, and expansion of jurisdiction that has allowed our members the freedom and security to create the best motion pictures in the world,” he added.

Roth served under six presidents, starting with Gene Reynolds and followed by Jack Shea, Martha Coolidge, Michael Apted, Taylor Hackford, and Barclay, who is in his second two-year term.

“Jay is one of those rare individuals who sees the forest and the trees — in 3D — recognizing how to bring every puzzle piece together in service of a greater vision,” Apted said Wednesday.

“And his tremendous impact transcended our own walls as he bolstered the standing of directors and the reputation of our Guild. Whether protecting members’ livelihoods by corralling the industry to rally against runaway production and piracy, or coordinating intense negotiations to strengthen pension and health plans for members and their families, or expanding global jurisdiction and cultural exchanges, his three decades of leadership are well recognized by the industry at large as being a vital element in shaping the future of the motion picture business. On behalf of all of us who have benefited from his tireless work, thank you Jay.”

The DGA will honor Roth with its Presidents Award for his service the guild. Roth will receive the award at the 69th Annual DGA Awards on Feb. 4 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. ‎The award requires a unanimous vote of all the former DGA presidents along with the current president.

Roth was paid $888,173 in compensation during 2015, according to the most recent LM-2 report filed with the U.S. Department of Labor by the DGA.

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