Tuesday, May 01, 2001

Hollywood strike down to the wire - May 1, 2001

If this strike drags on, we won't see the effects until autumn, when the fall TV season is supposed to start. Hollywood has enough movies in the can or in postproduction to last until Christmas. How the writer's guide strike goes will largely determine how quickly the actor's guild strike gets resolved. If the studios go hard-line on the writers, expect the actors to dig in for the long haul, too.

In most union-management disputes, it's difficult to separate the truth from the lies. For decades, baseball owners have claimed poverty, while continuing to one-up each other with higher and higher player salaries. Now the Hollywood studios are crying poor, even as they greenlight blockbusters like 'Pearl Harbor' for $150 million. Since Tinseltown accountants are world-famous for massaging the numbers to make any movie look like a financial failure, it's impossible to know whether or not the studios really are in trouble. That's why the actors have got the upper hand here - the public simply will not believe that the studios don't have the money. The actors and writers are fighting for the same thing - a higher minimum wage. This isn't about Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts making $25 million a flick; it's about Joe Schmo the character actor making enough money to survive on bit parts and non-speaking roles. It may take a while for the studios to bend, but bend they will.


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