Thursday, 17 July 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #129: Trust Me, No Really...

It's been reported that Sony Entertainment has made some sort of settlement with the writers of the upcoming animated sitcom "Sit Down/Shut Up." Some scribes are being paid an extra $200 grand, and there's some talk about improved health-care & pensions while the program itself will be under the banner of the IATSE union instead of the WGA.

Now you're probably wondering what that little tid-bit of relatively obscure Hollywood business has to do with the subject of "trust" which is implied in the titled.

Well, it's simple.

You see it's been reported that back when the show was getting off the ground many of the writers were assured by executives from Sony and the Fox Network that the show was going to be covered under the Writer's Guild of America instead of the more pliable and submissive International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada (IATSE for short because the full name is a mouthful).

Once the writer's started working on the show, Sony announced that they'd now be under the jurisdiction of IATSE instead of the WGA.

Now someone at Sony thought they were being clever and was going to save money by doing this, because it would mean getting out of contributing their share to the WGA pension and health care plans.

But once again we see the fearsome SELF-FULFILLING IDIOCY rearing it's dim-witted head.

A self-fulfilling idiocy is when someone perceives a problem where there is none, and comes up with a solution that can only, and obviously makes things worse, and more expensive.

The perceived problem: paying more for the WGA writers than if they were under IATSE.

The "solution": Tell the writers that they will be under WGA jurisdiction, and then pull a bait and switch and bring in IATSE at the last minute.

Why it was stupid: In order to end a walk-out that ground production of the show to a complete halt, they now have to pay the writers more than what was originally agreed to, and most likely create some sort of parity with the WGA jurisdiction. This just piles on the costs to the production, and will probably kill the show before it even airs.

But there's another reason as to why the whole boondoggle was stupid.

And it's about trust.

You see, I told you I was going to get to it.

Now Sony's executives look like a pack of liars willing to lie, cheat, and even sink an entire television production to satisfy a mix of petty greed and ego.

Now consider that image in the face of a time when investors are walking away from Hollywood.

That's not good.

That's not good at all.

Investors, especially the high rolling big-swinging-dicks of the global money market, aren't going to completely abandon an industry if an investment fails because it doesn't make money.

But they will walk away if it looks like they can't trust anyone.

The foundation of capitalism is that both sides in a deal should, even if that deal does not succeed, feel at least satisfied that they both acted in good faith. Sadly, a lot of folks don't work that way, so contracts, unions, lawyers, and occassionally courts get involved to ensure this. These things add to the cost of doing business, when simple good faith would have sufficed.

And when you have people in an industry acting so crassly in bad faith, no one will want to invest with them, either financially or creatively, because it's not really a business, it's a glorified Ponzi Scheme. So you get more involvement from unions, lawyers, courts, all making business more expensive, and when you're really sticking your head up your ass, the government steps in to regulate you.

And then nothing gets done, and no one's happy.

Of course the average Hollywood suit doesn't really think beyond the next bonus cheque, so they don't really consider the legacy they leave behind, even when that legacy is a crippled industry.

My advice to Hollywood: WAKE UP!

You're shooting yourselves in the goddamn foot with these hare-brained schemes!

A little trust can go a long way, and can make you even richer!

But who will listen to this voice in the wilderness?

No comments:

Post a Comment