Hollywood Studios Keep Saying Its Employees Must Get Paid, And Now May Be Forced To Pay Its Interns
from the live-up-to-your-promises dept
And, now they may have to pay, as an early ruling in the case has gone against Fox Entertainment Group and its Searchlight Pictures subsidiary, meaning a class action lawsuit for all its unpaid interns can move forward. Fox, cheap as always, tried to claim that it wasn't the employer, but rather the fake company it sets up for each movie was the real employer. If you're familiar with Hollywood accounting, you know that each movie is set up as its own "company" whose sole purpose is to lose money. That is, the studio -- which owns the company -- "charges" the company tons of fees for basically nothing, and then the "movie" can be seen as losing money, even as the studio makes a ton, and then the movie never has to pay out residual checks to the silly people who agreed to get a cut of the net. There's almost never a net.
Of course, since this is effectively a sham company, the judge quickly saw through that claim, and properly noted that Fox is the real employer. Now, as I've said before, I think laws against unpaid internships are kind of silly -- and if people can willingly come to an agreement where an unpaid internship makes sense, it should be allowed. But, it does seem ridiculously hypocritical for Hollywood to parade up and down the streets of DC insisting that its main focus is to make sure all the people who work on its movies get paid, including releasing propaganda commercials highlighting non-acting movie staff, and then go out of its way to not pay people doing work on films. If Hollywood wants to say that it's trying to get people who work on its films paid, it might want to start by not trying to screw many of them out of salaries. But that's what it's going to do. Fox has announced plans to appeal the decision. Remember that next time the MPAA is on Capitol Hill talking about all the "jobs" it creates.