Life in Hollywood, below-the-line

Life in Hollywood, below-the-line
Work gloves at the end of the 2006/2007 television season (photo by Richard Blair)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Dash of Bitters for the New Year

A nice perk if you can get it...

So there I was, knocking on the door of an après dinner Thanksgiving gathering in a house full of amped-up kids and their booze-and-tryptophan infused parents.  A man in his late 40’s/early 50’s opened the door with a genial smile, then introduced himself as he shook my hand and ushered me in.  A glass of wine was offered. Before I knew it, I was part of the scene. 

Talking later with this man – a charming, down-to-earth fellow – I learned that he works as a lawyer for Disney, and eventually it came out that the MausHaus had recently facilitated the purchase (or was it a lease?  Hey, we were drinking -- the details remain fuzzy) of his new company car, a shiny Porsche fresh off the showroom floor.   And by "facilitated," I mean Disney provided the twenty-five thousand dollar downpayment, and would also make the monthly nut of more than four hundred dollars.

That's quite a perk. 

I just grinned and nodded, like a brainless bobble-head doll.  Having been so graciously treated as a guest in this house left me no recourse, unable to express what I was thinking. 

I’m sure this very nice man is good at his job, and doubtless earned such a car for his years of service to the House That Walt Built.  Being a lawyer for a cut-throat, bottom-line obsessed outfit like Disney can’t be much fun, so I don't begrudge him driving a car that (depending on the particular model and options) costs anywhere from $85,000 to $155,000. But now we know what Disney – a fabulously wealthy corporate entity with enough spare change lying around to buy the Star Wars franchise of George Lucas outright for a cool four billion dollars late last year -- does with all the money they save by paying the crews of their many television shows 20% below union scale under the odious cable contract.  

They buy expensive European sports cars for their already well-compensated lawyers.  

That’s something to think about next time you’re on your knees shoving the last hundred pound coil of 4/0 into the belly of the electric truck at the end of another grinding cable-rate day.  At that point, your body wracked with pain and fatigue nearly fifteen hours after call time, the producers still won't suffer the Golden Hammer of double-time.

Just thought you’d like to know.


Unknown said...

Amen, brother.

Niall said...

Eventually the union or the body alone has to do something about these cut rates and erosion of our worker rights.

This past contract was neither good or horrible but it was another step in the backwards direction. Sooner than later this has to change or Hollywood(and all its offspring) might find it's self faced with a work stoppage the like they have never seen.

Anonymous said...

Brings to mind the old joke:

What's the difference between Porches and Porcupines?

Porcupines have the pricks on the outside.

You're welcome......

Michael Taylor said...

George --


Niall --

I hear you, but until the "race to the bottom" -- a suicidal competition encouraged by those who fund motion picture and television production -- is brought to a halt, I see no end to our cable-rate hell. And that man-killing rat race just goes on and on...

Bosko --

The thing is, this guy isn't a prick -- he's a very nice, considerate, gracious family man who just happens to work for the Devil's Media Factory. I can't (and don't) blame him for our cable rate nightmare, but the contrast between his side of the fence and ours remains profoundly disturbing.

D said...

Great post. Thanks a lot.

Michael Taylor said...

D --

Thanks. It's always nice to hear from you -- and I'm glad at least one of us isn't working for cable rate anymore...