'Duck Dynasty' Producer Breaks Silence Over Salary Negotiations
UPDATED: Dierdre Gurney admits to fellow HRTS panelists, “It’s going to get done, but there are a lot of factors at play.”
There was a (bearded?) elephant in the room at Wednesday's Hollywood Radio & Television Society luncheon, when panelist and Duck Dynasty producer Dierdre Gurney saw the conversation turn to talent renegotiations. Dierdre and husband Scott Gurney are behind the A&E reality hit -- which, as The Hollywood Reporter broke hours earlier, is holding off on a renewal while the cast tries to secure a big raise for the fourth season.
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Fellow panelist Craig Piligian, CEO and EP of Pilgrim Studios, was deep into an examination of his own experience with demanding talent -- of his approach to managing the stars of his hit fishing series Wicked Tuna he said, "You have to show the talent that you could do the show without them" -- when he and Original Productions executive producer and CEO Philip Segal encouraged Gurney to comment on the Dynasty development.
“The Duck Dynasty guys … they don’t need the money. They’re having fun, right?" asked Segal. "It isn’t about the money, right? They were wealthy to begin with."
Said Gurney of her series’ stars current salary standoff: “Look, there are two main factors at play. One is social media. They want immediate feedback about themselves. The second is promotional appearances, the fees for which will always outweigh their show money.”
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Gurney went on to say they need their stars -- the bearded Robertson clan -- need to be focused on the show and that it was “hard to watch” the talent go through the negotiation process.
“These A-type personalities … the network says, ‘Can't you get them to be behave?' No. They are crazy, which is what makes them compelling characters,” said Segal.
Gurney responded further that she hopes someday that the model of a ratings-boost will become the norm. “I love this model," she said. "When a show blows up, the stars benefit. If not, they don’t feel cheated."
Piligian then pressed Gurney: “So, are you getting ratings bonuses?”
She smiled and demurred. “I hope it’s the model going forward.”
Segal, summed up the thrust of the conversation thusly: “When a show is a successful, it becomes a problem.”