Why the Internet Makes Hollywood Nuts

Mark Evanier linked to this classic clip show from 1979.  He goes into a lot of the programming choices that the networks made while crafting their fall lineups.  As always, it’s a great read.

While watching it, though, I thought about my own experience working on clip shows.  In 2007, I had the pleasure of working with the team that crafted the get-you-up-to-speed-for-our-last-episodes clip show for Desperate Housewives.  I worked on the clearance logs.  Those are the list of all the actors, how long their appeared for, which episode the clip was from, etc.  That list was used to calculate how much the actors would get paid.

For stars of the show, it was built into their contracts, so the presented no problems.  Some of the actors who appeared presented no problems as they were satisfied to receive the Screen Actors Guild minimum (at the time about $750).  The problems arose when a higher profile guest star felt they deserved more than the minimum.

Depending on the scene, the episode and its relevance to the over-arching plot of the show, network executives might decide to pay them SAG minimum plus 10%, for example.  Or they might simply agree to pay a set fee of $1200.  I think it depended first on how good the role was for the show, and almost as importantly, how good their agent was.

The real headaches came when an actor was deemed by the network to be asking for too much.  They’d send word to the editors to cut that scene.  That meant at best, fresh edits and updates to my clearance log, and at worst, a rewriting of that whole section of the program.  Sometimes someone who was edited out would lower their fee and be back in.  Sometimes the show’s producers would successfully make the case to keep an actor in despite their high fee.  This back-and-forth process took weeks.  In the end, it paid off, I think, as the show won its timeslot the Sunday it aired.

To apply all this to the internet, when I watched that clip show, I started thinking about how much each person who appeared would make.  If an actor didn’t speak, they didn’t have to be paid.  That means Fonzie’s belly dancer is clear.  But the two kids that Mork is marrying do, so that would have been $750 each based on the 2007 contract.  Now extrapolate that out for the rest of the show.  Then extrapolate that out for all the video clips of shows on the internet.  And every person who isn’t paid is able to pursue legal action against the network.

Now you can begin to see why the internet has made the networks so crazy.

American Horror Story

Over the holidays, I built up a number of credits for Amazon’s streaming video site.  I was browsing and noticed that FX’s American Horror Story was available.  I had enough to cover what had been aired already, but there were two more episodes to go at the time.  I opted to buy in.  Since I was home on metered internet, I had to wait until now to watch them.

The show was rather good, especially for genre material.  The story arc of the Harmon family drew me in.  The husband, Ben, had cheated on his wife, Vivian.  They, with their daughter Violet, relocate to the City of Angles for a fresh start.  Unfortunately that start begins (and ends) in a house that has a severe case of hauntings.  There are literally layers upon layers of ghosts in the house, all with their own tragic story.

In a show so filled with death, they manage to find a happy medium for the ending.  There were a couple of plot threads left dangling.  For example, neighbor Constance mentions that she had four children, but only three are ever shown in the show.  Given that they’ve announced that the next season will feature a whole new story, I wonder if that won’t be a threat that ties the two series together.

Heroes

Now that we are well into season three of Heroes, I am finally starting to watch my spiffy new BDs of seasons one and two. Season one I watched when it originally aired, but it will be nice to revisit without commercial interruption. Season two will be pretty much a brand new experience for me. I know people say it wasn’t as good as the first, but, hey, it’s better than nothing, right?

Maybe this weekend my BDs of Dogma and Office Space will arrive! Huzzah!

Channel 3 Is Crazy!

So I’ve been gone from Philly for almost two years. Sure, things were rough at the Comcast Network where I worked and was laid off from. Who knew that all this other drama and intrigue was simmering just off Market Street?

Alycia Lane had problems. She apparently sent photos of herself in a bikini to Rich Eisen, the head of the NFL Network. The problem is the email address she sent them to was shared with his wife. Somehow the New York Post got wind of it and Lane became Page Six fodder. Alycia and Larry in happier times

Just as that started to cool off, she was arrested for assaulting a police officer in New York. She was subsequently released from her KYW/CBS 3 contract (which paid a reported $750,000 per year).

Now it looks like there was a pay scale induced jealous rage building inside her coanchor, Larry Mendte (who looks like a wax figure on the air). Mendte has been charged by the FBI with hacking into Lane’s emails. He purportedly leaked a lot of the information that showed up in various gossip rags!

Reported by the Philly Inquirer, Mendte accessed Lane’s email over 500 times in four months. The feds believe the spying started earlier than the March 2006 they pegged, but digital records don’t go back farther than that.

Fox’s Dirty Tricks

So how about that Fox News Channel? They’ve led the pack for about a decade in the cable talking head, er, I mean cable news scene, but what do they do when the New York Times has a story suggesting there are some trends indicating that their lead might be eroding?

They talk about the story using doctored photos of the writer and editor of the piece! How upstanding, Fox!