The Squeeze: Producers on 'No Trust', Anger, Struggle
'You have to be a billionaire or dilettante' to make it today, says one, as Netflix economics, mergers, mean '365 days' work
The Squeeze series is about the impact of entertainment’s worsening economics on workers (execs and agents, actors, young Hollywood, below the line, and writers are coming next). Part I was How to (Maybe) Save Your Job During Layoffs. The series is for paid subscribers only.
A TV producer of a hit cable series recently shared this story: Not long after enduring a contentious back-and-forth with Netflix while negotiating a deal on a half-hour series, he ran into Ted Sarandos and Reed Hastings at a BAFTA event. “Fuck it,” he thought, and he walked up to the pair. “You guys are being really difficult making a decent deal,” he said.
Sarandos smiled. “Yeah! We know!”
“Why would you do that?,” the producer went on. “Why would you treat people like us — who are bringing you projects — like that?”
Sarandos smiled again. “You’ll be back.”
For the producer, the moment summed up Hollywood’s attitude toward one of the most venerated professions in entertainment — producing films and TV shows — that in 2022 has many in the ranks feeling like unappreciated “hired help,” as another producer put it. Of course, it’s still great to be Shonda or Ryan or J.J. But for non-one-percenter producers, even those who have won awards and have a long history in the business, the landscape is looking bleak these days.