Directors Guild Names Russell Hollander as Its New National Executive Director

He will succeed Jay D. Roth, but was chosen in a closed process criticized by two former DGA executives.

Russell Hollander has been named to succeed Jay D. Roth as national executive director of the Directors Guild of America, it was announced late Sunday by DGA president Paris Barclay and Roth, who is retiring in May. Roth will remain with the guild as a senior adviser.

Russell, a 16-year member of the guild’s executive staff, had been serving as associate national director, and was unanimously selected by the guild’s national board, which met Sunday, to take on the national executive director post.

“In this appointment, we ensure the continued strength and stability of our guild,” Barclay said. “Long committed to advancing the creative and economic rights of our members, Russ is a respected and accomplished leader with a strong track record of success on behalf of our membership and the industry. Together with his deep roots in our guild, Russ brings the necessary combination of strategic thinking, negotiating prowess, labor law expertise, and appreciation of our craft to build upon the DGA’s strong foundation under Jay, well into the future.”

Added Roth: “In the decade and a half since he joined our senior executive team from a top labor law firm, he has expanded our guild’s footprint, organizing and tirelessly working with leadership to build a thriving work environment for our members on the East Coast, laying important groundwork with employers, government and industry leaders. Nationally, he has led complex negotiations on behalf of our members in news, sports and commercials, and guided our expanded jurisdiction in non-dramatic, and new media.”

But the day before the board meeting, two former DGA executives criticized the closed selection process in an open letter addressed to the guild’s board, a copy of which was obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. “[A]n associate in [human resources administrator] Moira Pittman’s office stated that no applications would be accepted and that the position was closed,” said the letter from Denise Massingale-Lamb and Pamela Conley, both lawyers who worked for the DGA in the 1990s. “What is the culture at the DGA? Is it an open or closed environment? Does the DGA reflect opportunities for all or is it still closed to the male prototype executive director?”

“The DGA is a great organization that helps directors at all levels,” said Massingale-Lamb. “However, a closed appointment process gives the impression that there’s something to hide and may reinforce the perception that doors are closed to all but insiders.”

Conley said she co-wrote the letter for her daughter and “all daughters and all people who have had doors shut in their faces.” As reflected on its website, the DGA’s top four executives, and nine of its top 13, are white males. The guild’s announcement last month of Roth’s impending retirement said a “succession plan” would be unveiled in February — as it was Sunday — but made no mention of conducting an executive search, as is customary at corporations filling top jobs. Roth was paid over $888,000 in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available.

Over the next few months, Roth and Hollander will work with the guild’s national board and councils, as well as senior executive staff to ensure a smooth transition, the guild said. The DGA did not respond, however, to a request for comment on Massingale-Lamb's and Conley’s letter.

The AMPTP issued a statement the day after this article originally appeared. “The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers congratulates Russ Hollander on his appointment as National Executive Director of the Directors Guild of America. Having worked with Russ for many years now, we know that the membership of the DGA is fortunate to have a leader who is so deeply committed to its welfare. Although the AMPTP and the DGA frequently have different perspectives, both of our organizations have a mutual commitment to growth and stability in the industry. We look forward to working with Russ for many years to come in furtherance of that commitment.”

Hollander formerly headed the guild’s New York office before moving to its Los Angeles headquarters to take on an expanded national role in January 2016 to focus on the growing challenges of national and international representation of directors and their teams in all genres represented by the DGA. During his tenure, Hollander has served as the DGA’s chief negotiator in six network negotiations with ABC, CBS, and NBC; and four commercial negotiations with the Association of Independent Commercial Producers. He was also a leading participant in the Guild’s most recent BA/FLTTA negotiations. Hollander’s other responsibilities have included oversight of enforcement of the Guild’s collective bargaining agreements in the Eastern region, and national responsibility for non-dramatic programming, news, sports, commercials and new media.

Hollander joined the DGA in 2001 as assistant Eastern executive director, was promoted to Eastern executive director in 2002 and promoted again in 2011 to Eastern executive director/associate national executive director. Prior to joining the DGA, he was a partner at top labor law firm Cohen, Weiss and Simon.

Feb. 6, 12:15 a.m.: Updated with information regarding Massingale-Lamb's and Conley’s letter.

Feb. 7, 8:32 a.m. PT:  Updated with AMPTP statement