Remember a few years ago at the Oscars when Clooney broke his arm patting himself on the back for all the ways Hollywood’s made America better? Well, here’s your shot at one more, chin.
I like it. A lot.
Until Republicans acted this week, the Senate was actually prepared to bestow hundreds of millions of dollars of stimulation for Hollywood. The “Hollywood clause” would have given movie studios special tax breaks and enabled them to depreciate the costs of production equipment at a quicker rate. Perhaps, however, Congress should consider reinserting that provision. Doing so would give us the perfect excuse to impose the types of compensation controls on the movie industry that President Obama is now demanding of other industries who receive federal help…
But seriously, for the people who are leading the environmental movement and spearheading efforts to turn the Academy Awards green, cut back on the number of SUV’s in their entourage, and demonstrate frugality to Al Gore, this is such a great opportunity to demonstrate restraint and help out the new President. What better way to show solidarity with Democrats who want to impose a command and control economy and to confiscate wealth from the rich. Especially since everyone needs to make sacrifices right now. Not to worry though, Steven Spielberg and crew, it will feel patriotic.
No need to reinsert the provision. Barney Frank’s already declared open season on executive compensation whether it’s tied to government rescue programs or not. Instead of pledging to pet their dogs a few extra times a day or whatever, celebs could pledge to cap salaries at 500K per film — with a new Celebrity Windfall Tax imposed to recoup the huge profits the industry will make with costs cut so dramatically. No need to worry about disincentives, either: The prospect of global fame will continue to attract talent to film and TV notwithstanding the “meager” pay. Everyone wins! Exit question: Second look at socialism?
Update (Ed): One of the most annoyingly hypocritical films in recent memory is Two Weeks Notice, featuring Hugh Grant as a clueless magnate and Sandra Bullock as the cute leftist who cures him of his profit motive. Six years ago, I wrote a review at IMDB which included pointing out the Hollywood double-talk:
TWN continues the whole “bad capitalist — good socialist” thread that runs through Hollywood films. Bullock, being the daughter of 60’s radicals (“You were on the White House enemies list when you were five years old!” her parents tell her with glee), is the idealistic lawyer (LAWYER!) who wants to set the world right by stopping Grant’s company from redeveloping New York City. Grant seduces Bullock by tempting her with the millions of dollars she can direct into charitable efforts. But nowhere in the film does she ever do anything like that, nor is that given more than a passing mention by any character in the movie. And never is any hint that redevelopment (a) provides jobs, and (b) stimulates the economy by providing lease space for businesses — and therefore more jobs — rather than leaving buildings as museums for architecture. The whole thing is very one-sided. Fortunately, TWN doesn’t beat you over the head with it, but it definitely has to get in a couple of shots at President Bush. I guess you don’t get SAG sanction without that, these days.
Just a thought, but how exactly do they raise the money to shoot these anti-capitalist films, anyway? It takes at least $20 million to make a studio film these days. Wouldn’t THAT money be better spent on saving old buildings from destruction? Or is it only okay for Hollywood studios and stars to make profits? Dana Ivey says that a $50 million profit is “unconscionable”; I wonder what the writers think about Bullock’s and Grant’s salaries.
According to news reports and IMDB, Bullock got $15 million a picture in 2002, and IMDB specifically reports Grant’s salary for this film as $12.5 million. I’m a free-market guy, and I don’t resent that success one bit. I do resent Hollywood lecturing us on the evils of CEO compensation and the free market in a film where the combined cost of two actors comes to almost $30 million.