AMPTP Hires New Crisis PR Firm as Strikes Go On

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers has hired a prominent Washington, D.C.-based crisis management firm to assist its messaging effort as the double actors and writers strike grinds on with no end in sight. The studios’ trade association has been under an unprecedented national spotlight in its four-decade history as the work stoppages lead to severe ripple-effect economic consequences.

The organization as well as the PR company, The Levinson Group, declined to comment. It’s led by namesake Molly Levinson, a former political director at CNN and CBS turned strategic adviser for corporate clients with reputational and risk concerns. She’s also known for her work on behalf of the restaurant Comet Ping Pong, countering “Pizzagate,” as well as the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team in its campaign for pay equity.

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The AMPTP’s addition of The Levinson Group augments its existing pair of retained media consultants, both of whom have spent their careers in Hollywood: Chris Day, previously UTA’s longtime communications head, and Scott Rowe, who spent decades in messaging for Warner Bros.

The AMPTP has a history of reaching beyond the entertainment industry to the political world for assistance in the midst of a strike emergency. During the 2007-08 WGA stoppage, the association brought on Chris Lehane and Mark Fabiani, the Democratic Party operatives, who had also previously done work for the Screen Actors Guild in 2002 during its impasse with the Association of Talent Agents.

The studios aren’t alone in enlisting new PR reinforcements for the current standoff: SAG-AFTRA has hired Precision Strategies, led by Stephanie Cutter, who served as deputy campaign manager for Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential run.

Since the Writers Guild first walked in early May when it didn’t come to an agreement on a new labor contract, the AMPTP, its company members and especially their CEOs have found themselves villainized. The situation has worsened for management as workers have made their case on social media while the AMPTP has chosen to remain silent — except, of course, for step-in-it moments like Disney chief Bob Iger’s Sun Valley commentary, which provoked its own backlash.

The Levinson Group’s hiring in recent days follows consideration of several firms. It has yet to finalize its action plan, which will follow the apparent breakdown of the recently renewed talks between the AMPTP and the WGA. The union condemned the association’s messaging decision to publicly release, on Aug. 22, the studios’ counteroffer, considering it to be an end-run around its negotiating committee.

Pamela McClintock contributed reporting.

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