DGA Fetes Outgoing Chief Jay Roth at Humorous, Bittersweet Event
A panoply of speakers honored the guild's recently retired national executive director.
A crowd of 400 to 500 industry executives, union leaders and others gathered Thursday night to bid farewell to Jay Roth — who departed his position last month as Directors Guild of America's national executive director after 22 years at the helm of one of Hollywood’s most powerful unions — as nine speakers delivered remarks laced with humor, dismay and a bit of gentle ribbing.
The speakers included DGA figures, SAG/AFTRA and IATSE executives and management leaders who had sat across the bargaining table from Roth many times.
“A friendship with Jay is not for the faint of heart,” said AMPTP president Carol Lombardini in light-hearted recognition of Roth’s intensity, adding that he was “driven by a relentless passion for knowledge and a kind spirit.”
Like several other speakers, she also remarked on his passion for fine food and wine. Others mentioned his love of golf, with DGA president Paris Barclay expressing gratitude to Roth that “you never made me go golfing.”
In return, “I assured you three times that you weren’t under investigation,” said Barclay in a Trump-laced quip that brought laughter.
Attendees included Disney CEO Robert Iger, Paramount CEO Jim Gianopulos, Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara, SAG-AFTRA national executive director David White, former WGA president Dan Petrie, ATA executive director Karen Stuart, CAA managing director Bryan Lourd, AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson, IATSE’s Mike Miller, Teamsters Local 399 secretary-treasurer Steve Dayan and many present and former DGA execs and leaders.
And, of course, there were numerous directors in attendance, including Jon Favreau, Jay Roach, Robert Butler, Martha Coolidge and Taylor Hackford.
DGA secretary-treasurer and past president Michael Apted praised Roth for basing negotiations on “extensive research, which became his calling card.”
Betty Thomas, the union’s 1st vp, called Roth “intensely smart and intensely intense.” And, she added, “crazy fun.”
SAG-AFTRA senior adviser John Maguire described two European road trips with Roth, one of which ended with a seven-course meal and the other with a speeding ticket that the two still dispute who was responsible for.
DGA board member Michael Mann, who said Roth “is usually six moves ahead of everybody,” provided a thumbnail biography, including Roth’s work in tenants’ rights and gender discrimination.
Former Warner Bros. chairperson and CEO Barry Meyer described Roth as “tough — Don Corleone tough.”
IATSE president Matt Loeb sent a video tribute, one of several during the evening. Roth’s successor, Russell Hollander, spoke of Roth’s commitment to the “DGA family, whose ancestors were once slaves to oppressive pharaohs.”
And finally came an unannounced but scarcely unexpected speaker: the “J-Man” himself. A visibly emotional Roth said, “I love this guild,” then thanked companies, sister unions and guilds, lawyers, advisers, staff — and especially his wife Sherry, “for putting up with the mishegoss.”
Roth will continue for a time as an adviser to the guild.