Are studios colluding to bring down talent costs?

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Are studios colluding to bring down talent costs?

Mon Apr 27, 2009 @ 02:26PM PST

By Eriq Gardner


Hollywood Is there a massive antitrust class action brewing in Hollywood's backyard?

The NY Times' Michael Cieply buried that potentially bombshell charge this weekend in the middle of a column about the formidable power that Hollywood studios still command. Cieply notes that studios have cut production costs and that privately, lawyers and agents in town are wondering whether there's some collusive forces at hand driving down the price that studios are willing to pay actors and other talent. Cieply writes:

One theory holds that studio executives and lawyers, while engaged in legitimate joint bargaining through the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers during the three-month writers strike and, later, with the actors guild, used idle moments to reach an industrywide consensus that talent costs should come down.


The economy has been bad, and many companies throughout America are cutting back. On the other hand, as been noted by many, this year's box office tally may be recession-proof (though studios often site declining DVD sales as the cause of much woe).

Agents and lawyers have been grumbling about clients not getting fair value in deals since agents and lawyers first came to town, and they'll continue to do so regardless of who-is-getting-what. Nevertheless, the situation is getting desperate out there for wide swaths of the talent community, and desperate times breed desperate actions.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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