How Actors With No Leverage Get Screwed in TV Contracts

8:00 AM PST 02/20/2014 by Matthew Belloni

One-sided contracts increasingly finagle in the fine print over raises, first-class vs. coach flights and other points.

This story first appeared in the Feb. 28 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

1. "QUOTES" MEAN ALMOST NOTHING: "Now they offer you less," says one lawyer. A popular excuse: "Well, that pilot never got on the air, so it's not an 'earned quote.' "

2. RENEWALS DON'T EQUAL BIG RAISES: Pay bumps for second and third seasons used to be 5 percent. Now it's 3 or 4 percent.

PHOTOS: The Faces of Pilot Season 2014

3. … OR EVEN A RAISE AT ALL: Bumps in season two used to be automatic, but new deals require episode minimums. Says the lawyer: "Some places, if you haven't gotten to 22 in season three, you still don't get a raise."

4. STUDIOS WON'T ALLOW DOUBLE-DIPPING: Inexperienced actors typically earn $15,000 to $20,000 an episode but used to make twice that for the pilot. "You never get paid double anymore," says another rep.

5. SAY FAREWELL TO FIRST-CLASS FLIGHTS: First- or business-class travel once was standard, but studios now defer to the guilds, which allow for coach flights of less than 1,000 miles or to Vancouver. "Studios hide behind that."

comments powered by Disqus