An Evening to Celebrate Jay D. Roth

An Evening to Celebrate Jay D. Roth

June 22, 2017 A DGA Special Event

On June 22, movers and shakers of the film industry gathered at the Guild’s Los Angeles Theater to celebrate former DGA National Executive Director Jay D. Roth. These heavyweights assembled to recognize the legacy of Roth who stepped down from his post after 22 years of leading the professional staff of the Guild and serving as chief negotiator.

The guest list for the VIP reception in the Guild’s Los Angeles headquarters read like a who’s who of Hollywood and included such stalwarts as DGA officers Taylor Hackford, Jon Favreau, Thomas Schlamme and Brooke Kennedy, Disney Chairman Robert Iger, Paramount Pictures CEO Jim Gianopulos, Warner Bros. Entertainment CEO Kevin Tsujihara, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences CEO Dawn Hudson, SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White, Teamsters Local 399 Secretary-Treasurer Steve Dayan and Association of Talent Agents Executive Director Karen Stuart. Following the reception, the near capacity audience assembled in the main theater where they were welcomed by DGA President Paris Barclay who compared the Guild’s reaction to the news of Roth’s imminent retirement to the Kübler-Ross stages of grief.

“I can’t promise by the end of tonight that we’ll have graduated to acceptance and hope,” said Barclay. “But we’re really trying. I’m hoping that the cocktails, laughs and reminiscing may be just the medicine we need. I have extolled this extraordinary man in a long tour of speeches the past couple of months. I think it is time to hear from a few other folks who know and love you just as much as I do.”

Current DGA Secretary-Treasurer and Past President Michael Apted stepped to the stage to speak about the long relationship he forged with Roth, and how Roth’s penchant for research was used to the best advantage of the Guild.

“Jay's great strength was to know instinctively what the priorities were, what we absolutely had to get, and what we could pass up,” said Apted. “The bottom line is that we couldn’t ply our craft as Directors and Guild members if Jay wasn’t so adept at plying his craft. Jay, the many thousands of our members and others in the industry who have benefited from your vision over these years send you their sincere and heartfelt thanks.”

Apted also introduced a video package gleaned from the DGA’s Visual History Program where legendary members like the late Gil Cates, John Rich, Jack Shea and others spoke about their impressions of Roth and recalled how he moved the Guild into the modern age.

DGA First Vice President Betty Thomas recalled how Roth enticed her to serve on the financial committee of the DGA-Producer Pension and Health Plans, and how his dedication to that cause and ongoing search for better solutions made the assignment not only palatable, but fun.

“Most DGA members don’t pay much attention to the pension plan until they retire and they need that money,” said Thomas. “The person who guides those areas to success is Jay. He listens, he probes, he suggests, he educates and he sends mountains of emails with articles from experts daily discussing a myriad of aspects of investing and still finds ways to integrate jokes about golf. The trustees are Directors and ADs, UPMs, and Producer reps – we are not finance experts. And yet as trustees, we have learned to make life-changing investment decisions. Jay makes that work. I believe we are smarter and more aware and more responsive, most pension plans throughout America. I know that is because of Jay.”

To prove she was not alone in her sentiments, Thomas introduced a humor-tinged video of more DGA members recalling how Roth personally impacted their lives.

Other anecdotes about Roth included SAG/AFTRA Senior Advisor John McGuire recalling how their relationship was strengthened on a road trip through Europe while they were working on a case designed to benefit the members of both organizations; DGA National Board Member Michael Mann admiring Roth’s long history of working for the underdog and battling tooth and nail to get the best results for his clients; AMPTP President Carol Lombardini explaining how Roth’s proclivity for building relationships with people he would face across the negotiating table helped foster a mutual respect that served both sides of the equation; and former Warner Bros. Chairperson and CEO Barry Meyer offering his services as a counselor to Roth in his retirement in exchange for fine dining tips. Unable to join the event due to a conflict in his schedule, IATSE International President Matt Loeb sent his best wishes via video.

In his comments, Roth’s successor, DGA National Executive Director Russell Hollander, thanked Roth for his many contributions that not only improved the status of the members of the Guild but the industry as a whole. Hollander quoted lessons he gleaned from Roth that were handed down like biblical commandments such as: ‘A creative industry requires many collaborators. Always understand that the industry sinks or swims together.’ ‘Good agreements are ones where both sides succeed.’ And ‘Always remember, we are here to do the business of the members.’

“Jay has been a teacher and a mentor to me for 16 years,” said Hollander. “I and the rest of his team have benefited personally and professionally from his courage and wisdom, his honesty, his advice and generosity. He has taught us to think critically and to follow what he refers to as ‘the Process.’ And when we do, the results speak for themselves. Jay, words cannot express my personal gratitude and the gratitude of the more than one hundred sixty employees at the DGA.”

In the climactic moment of the evening, Roth stepped to the stage amid a standing ovation. He issued thanks to all those who participated the evening and the thousands of guild members, sister guilds and unions, industry executives, agents, lawyers, advisors, consultants and professionals who crossed his path over the last two decades of leading the Guild he loves.

“I have learned over and over again that we do nothing alone and that communication and thoughtful solidarity is in the interest of all,” said Roth. “Thank you to all who have worked with us on behalf of our members. Nothing would have been possible in this last 22 years without your efforts. The Guild is in wonderful shape for the future because of the strong leadership in place led by Russ. Thank you to the elected leaders of this Guild, an 80-year history of selfless sacrifice. I have been honored to serve. I love you all, now let’s have a drink.”

The evening ended with a reception in the DGA lobby as Roth moved forward into his new role as Senior Advisor to the Guild.

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