Directors Guild of America (DGA) President and Negotiations Chairman Gil Cates announced Wednesday that the guild plans to open negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) in mid-November. The talks would thus immediately follow those between the AMPTP and the two performers unions, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) scheduled to begin in October. The DGA said that in advance of the formal talks, it will meet informally with the AMPTP in order "to confirm that both parties are committed to negotiating a fair agreement that will protect the economic and creative rights of DGA members while accomplishing the important objective of keeping our industry working in this challenging period." In a commentary posted on his website on Wednesday, entertainment attorney Jonathan Handel observed that the early talks -- the contract between the DGA and the AMPTP does not expire until mid-2011 -- "puts enormous pressure on SAG and AFTRA to conclude an agreement in October or Early November of this year. If they don't, the DGA will step in and do a deal first, setting a template that SAG and AFTRA may not like."