Cates' passing marks a blow to Directors Guild of America
The passing of Gil Cates on Tuesday hit home for the Directors Guild of America, where Cates was an instrumental figure in helping shape the powerful union and its relationship with the studios.
A member of the guild's board since 1975, Cates led the union's negotiations on four occasions, most recently as chair of the negotiating committee that secured a new film and TV contract that took effect July 1. He also led pivotal negotiations during the 2007-2008 writers' strike that helped establish the framework for payment of residuals in new media.
Cates was the union's secretary-treasurer and previously served as its president from 1983 to 1987, where he led the guild's one and only strike in 1987. He helped land the union's first pay-TV contract with HBO and created an agreement covering work in low-budget contracts.
In a recent interview with the DGA magazine, Cates talked about strength of the union: "I know a lot of my friends became involved because they had been really screwed over by a producer or a studio, and the Guild came in and saved them or gave them their cutting rights or something. But for me it was more than that. Every group has a spirit,and the DGA has a certain culture to it."
-- Richard Verrier
Photo: Gil Cates is filmed by a camera crew from the Oprah show backstage at the 77th Academy Awards in Feb. 2005, which he produced. Credit: Al Seib.