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The Motion Picture and Television Producers Alliance has hired a prominent Washington, D.C.-based crisis management firm to assist with the messaging effort as the dual actors and writers’ strike continues with no end in sight. The Studio Trade Association has been in the national spotlight unprecedented in its four-decade history, as business outages have had severe economic consequences.
The organization as well as the public relations firm The Levinson Group, and declined to comment. It is led by namesake Molly Levinson, former political director at CNN and CBS turned strategic advisor to corporate clients with reputational and risk concerns. She is also known for her work on behalf of Comet Ping Pong, fronting Pizzagate, as well as the US Women’s National Team in their campaign for equal pay.
The addition of AMPTP to the Levinson Group bolsters its existing media consultants, both of whom have spent their careers in Hollywood: Chris Day, formerly UTA’s longtime chief of communications, and Scott Rowe, who spent decades reporting for Warner Bros.
AMPTP has a history of turning beyond the entertainment industry into the political world to get help in the midst of an emergency. During the WGA’s hiatus in 2007-2008, the association brought in Chris Lehane and Mark Fabiani, Democratic Party activists, who had also previously worked for the Screen Actors Guild in 2002 during its impasse with the Talent Agents Association.
The studios aren’t alone in recruiting new PR reinforcements for the current standoff: SAG-AFTRA has hired Precision Strategies, led by Stephanie Cutter, who served as deputy director of Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign.
Ever since the Writers’ Guild first walked out in early May when it failed to reach an agreement on a new employment contract, AMPTP, the company’s members and especially their executives have found themselves villainous. It got worse for management as workers made their case on social media while AMPTP chose to remain silent — except, of course, for moments of intervention such as Sun Valley’s comment by Disney boss Bob Iger, which prompted a backlash on its part.
Levinson Group’s appointment comes in recent days after several companies were considered. It has not yet finalized its plan of action, which will follow the apparent breakdown of recently renewed talks between AMPTP and the WGA. The union condemned the reporter’s decision to publicly announce, on August 22, the studios’ counter-offer, considering it as a final round on its negotiating committee.
Pamela McClintock contributed reporting.
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