How Actors With No Leverage Get Screwed in TV Contracts

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.

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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."

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