Friday, 28 March 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #74: Revenge of the Self Fulfilling Idiocy

Nikki Finke reports that Jack Klugman, star of the first American* forensic crime drama QUINCY is suing NBC Universal for millions.

NBC Universal claims that the show, which ran for 8 seasons (usually in the Top 10) and then went on to be syndicated around the world for the next 25+ years, has lost over $66 million dollars, and that they owe Klugman nothing in royalties and profit sharing.

If NBC Univer
sal's claim is true then it is the most incompetently run organization in the history of the planet that should have gone bankrupt decades ago.

Of course we know it isn't true. NBC Universal is just playing silly stupid games with the books in an attempt to screw people out of their fair share.

And the sad thing is that the NBC Universal people behind these fiscal shenanigans thi
nk they're smart, when in fact they are being really, really, really, stupid.

I've discussed this matter before, but since Hollywood is refusing to learn from my vast wisdom, I am going to have to repeat myself.

This case is a classic example of what I call Hollywood's most prevalent self-fulfilling idiocy. A self-fulfilling idiocy is like a self-fulfilling prophecy, only it's not about prescience but about stupidity. It refers to a stupid plan that creates a worse problem than the one the the plan was meant to solve.

Allow me to elucidate:

Studios and networks want more money. It's natural that they act in their own self-interest, it's the nature of the beast. But plans like this may look on the surface like a good plan, but scratch off that micron of credibility and you realize that it does more harm to their self-interest than good.

Here's how it works:

Studios promise profit shares to the talent in exchange for lower up-front fees.

Studios then cheat the talent out of their fair shares by putting their CEO's losses in Bolivian tin mining on the production's budget.

Feeling screwed, the talent then demand more money up front.

Production costs go up, and up, and up. Way beyond the rate of inflation.

Then the studios realize that production has become too expensive to make a profit, even when they don't fiddle with the books.

Studios eventually collapse when the glamour and the glitter stops hiding the fact that the industry's become a bottomless black hole for money and investors walk away.

A little commons sense, and basic honesty could prevent problems like this from happening, and I haven't even mentioned the millions spent fighting these cases in court.

So the next time, and there will be a next time, you see a story like this, remember that you're watching a self-fulfilling idiocy at work.


*Many consider the Canadian CBC show Wojeck starring John Vernon the first crime show to centre on the work of a Medical Examiner and forensic science.

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