Today marks the debut of a new feature on TPP: Overheard at Angus. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Angus, it’s one of a few eateries where industry muckety-mucks mix with chorus girls and share great burgers and great gossip.
It’s also where many of the industry’s greatest minds and greatest egos try and solve some of our gigantic problems.
I’m at Angus (and its other similar locales) a lot. Every so often, I’ll hear something worth mentioning, so I will. No names, and frankly, I’ll be using Angus in the generic form to represent anywhere I hear an idea worth discussing, whether that’s at McDonalds, Fairway, or Chelsea Studios.
This week’s Overheard involved a pretty prominent producer and an agent sharing a drink/negotiation. Here’s the crux of the convo:
Producer: I don’t get it. Why such a large advance? Of all the shows that I’ve done, the authors have made a helluva lot more than I have over the years. They get licensing, royalties, publishing. What do we get? The right to produce the show in a biz with an 80% failure rate. Thank you for that gift! And if we fall in that 20% and actually do recoup, any profit has to be split between the 147 other producers it takes to put on a show these days.
Agent: Come on, don’t give me that. You get weekly royalties and fees, too.
Producer: Yes, which go towards running an office that helps run the show.
Agent: You get a share of licensing, too.
Producer: Wrong. The show gets a piece of licensing. Which means that the investors get it if the show hasn’t recouped, as they should. The Producer doesn’t get anything in those cases.
(At this point, Mr. Producer ordered another Jack and Coke.)
Agent: So what are you saying? You don’t think they should make that much? These guys write the shows. Without them, you can’t produce a thing. You might as well go into manufacturing widgets.
Producer: No, that’s not what I’m saying at all. They wrote it. And if it’s a hit, they should get rich, and they should get rich before I do. Andrew Lloyd Webber deserves every penny. What I’m saying is . . . if the chances of me ever making any money are less than the chances afforded to the authors . . . shouldn’t they be the ones giving us an advance?
Only at Angus, kids . . . only at Angus.