Listen now (52 mins) | Labor author Sarah Jaffe on what strikers should understand about the studio system: 'To associate it with greed is to be too personal about it'
One of the worst interviews ever. Elaine keeps demonstrating that she has no idea how to interview. Jaffe said so many things that were downright wrong. She claimed Sofia Coppola was the first female director to win an Oscar. She's never won an Oscar. Amazing that there was no pushback from Elaine. Jaffe also claimed, with no facts, that only actors who come from middle class backgrounds have any hope for making it in the business. Again no follow up from Elaine, who just let her blather for almost an hour.
If actors are making $10,000 a year through small, far-between roles, doesn’t that mean there are too many actors?
I am an amateur labor historian and student of the Studio System. I would suggest Ronny Regev's "Working in Hollywood: How the Studio System Turned Creativity into Labor" and Steven Ross's "Working-Class Hollywood: Silent Film and the Shaping of Class in America" . Up until recently, there have been few histories of the Studio System and of the business itself. When I was in film and drama school, all you got was books on film theory and criticism or which is just a bunch of opinions. Leo Rosten's 1942 book "Hollywood: The Movie Colony" is still one of the best books on the actual "business" of making movies. A more recent overview of the business from its start to now in Douglas Gomery's "The Hollywood Studio System." The Studio System never died but it changed after the late 1950s. And Lew Wasserman changed it again in the 1970s. It's important to see where we have been. There is much we can use to come up with a system that works now and see the patterns that keep getting repeated. For people interested in writers, I would suggest Richard Fine's "West of Eden: Writers in Hollywood 1928-1940. And Charlie Brackett's diaries "It's the Pictures That Got Small: Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder in Hollywood's Golden Age". Brackett was the first president of the new WGA of 1939. It gives you a pretty good picture of the day to day life of a Hollywood writer. He and Wilder had contracts at Paramount, but sometimes got loaned out. "Modern Acting: The Lost Chapter of American Film and Theatre" by Cynthia Baron zeros in on the Studio System's acting and diction coaches who helped young contract actors work on their parts. One day you would be in a Western and the next day a gangster film. Exciting times if you were lucky enough to be under contract.
One big takeaway was Jaffe's observation about "swagger". It is true that a certain amount of swagger or chutzpah is needed in negotiations in any deal making with a bit of humor. Perhaps Fran should hire some big hulking but fancy lawyer in an Armani suit to enter the room with a swagger. Kind like Bogie or Matt Damon. "He's with me."
Amazing. This was a very enlightening interview about the realities of labor. All the content on The Anker is great - but this is my favorite article so far. I'll buy her book this week. (I posted this in the transcript section earlier.)
Loved the podcast. Excellent guest choice Elaine.