Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On... #49: SAGging Fortunes

A big sloppy hat-tip to the inestimable Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood Daily for this story.

It appears that Hollywood's A-List celebrities, led by George Clooney are pressuring the Screen Actor's Guild, or SAG to begin negotiations with the AMPTP early in order to stem a potential strike in June. This comes with reports of a lot of posturing by the A-List to make the SAG leadership look militant and unreasonable.

Now a lot of folks are wondering why actors would try to pressure their own union to rush to a deal, no matter the consequences instead of putting that same pressure on the corporations.

Well, there's a pretty good reason.


Hollywood's A-List pretty much get everything they want from the corporations. Massive up-front pay cheques, first dollar gross points that sometimes actually get paid, control over their own projects and extras and special treatment that go beyond simple decadence into the realm of the ridiculous.

The A-List has it better now than any actors have had in the history of movies.

But there's a catch.

Most of the A-List don't deserve to be there.

The majority of A-List "Stars" owe their positions more to the tenacity of their agents and publicists than to their audience appeal or commercial success.

Take for example George Clooney, and Nicole Kidman.

According to the press they are two of the biggest stars in the world. They've won Oscars, and get almost non-stop press coverage that treats their every gas-passage as glorious works of genius.

But ask yourself: How many times have you paid money to see them?

Not many folks can answer that question. George Clooney's box-office record is dismal for anything that doesn't have the word Ocean's in the title, and the last one failed to turn a decent profit because it cost too damn much.

Nicole Kidman's record is even worse. She's a beautiful woman but has never had the luck of getting a modestly successful franchise like Clooney, and most records say that she's never had a starring film make over $100 million.

Yet both are each paid over $15-$20 million per picture.


The key element that makes a real movie star isn't the ability to get on Entertainment Tonight eight times in a week, or to land on People Magazine's Most Beautiful People list it's the ability to put bums on seats.

And most of today's A-List couldn't sell a movie ticket if the theatre was in the only bunker during a nuclear war. A SAG strike, or a radically rethought agreement between studios and actors might force the studios and networks to look beyond the haze laid out by publicists, agents, and the media, and pay the A-List based on their actual worth.

And that ain't much.

And now you know.


  1. I admit I saw Golden Compass inspite of Kidman not because of her. Never seen a Clooney movie in my life. Should I be embarassed about that?

  2. Join the ever growing majority.