"It Feels Like the Last Days of Rome"
FOMO, weed, mergers, smaller paychecks: it's all part of the industry's blur of anxiety
Today’s newsletter is from Nicole LaPorte, our newest contributing editor. She is the author of Guilty Admissions and The Men Who Would Be King, and most recently was a Fast Company senior writer.
When former Disney executive-turned-producer Todd Garner put together an encrypted Signal group chat of 20 or so top producers in Hollywood, he saw it as a platform where he and his peers could throw out “questions, thoughts, concerns, fears—anything you’re going through.”
The chat, which is an understood “cone of silence” amongst its non-disclosed members, was an extension of the podcast Garner had been hosting, The Producer’s Guide, where he’d go deep on industry issues with fellow producers and Hollywood machers like Jeremey Zimmer and John Cena. The podcast “felt like a safe space for them to be able to just talk,” he tells The Ankler.
But given the tumultuous state of Hollywood, what with the cloudy economics of streaming; the decimated theatrical business; consolidation everywhere you look (the agencies, the studios); and a famously relationship-and schmooze-based culture that has been on Zoom for the past two years; the Signal chat quickly became much more than just a place to talk shop. One member calls it a desperately-needed “support group” where people can vent about “the full-blown existential crisis for a lot of producers,” who have seen the very core of their financial model — first-dollar gross payouts — go up in smoke thanks to streaming. Says the producer: “People are freaking out.”
Producers aren’t the only ones.