Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ripped Off

Did you catch American Idol last week? How about Survivor? Actually, let me ask you this – did you watch any reality TV show last week?

If so, here’s an interesting fact for you. The show you watched – and I don’t care how successful it is, it’s pretty much true across the board – did not pay its writers a union salary.

Their explanation: they don’t have writers. It’s a reality show, dummy.

But who wrote Ryan Seacrest’s little piece about the life and times of Michael Jackson? Ryan? Me thinks not. Who crafts the video montage bios that have become a staple of so many reality TV shows? Writers, that’s who – Screen Actors’ Guild writers. The shows call them “producers” and pay them below SAG standards.

Even a show like Survivor has off-air storytelling going on, as highlighted recently by the debacle on The Bachelor, where Bachelor Jason Mesnick has pretty much said he was being heavily pushed into informing first love Melissa about new love Molly on the air. (Even so – DUDE.)

40% of television programming, in fact, does not pay its people union wages. Some of it is on the cable stations that probably can’t afford union fees. But what about American Idol? It’s a billion dollar industry. The money is chump change. What’s up with that?

Something to think about the next time this guy opens his mouth…

I am making over 12 million dollars this year.

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