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Steve Chiotakis: The economy’s in the gutter. Job cuts everyday. Let’s head over to the land of make-believe: Hollywood. And everything’s better in Tinseltown, right? Well, not so fast. Moviemakers are hoping for a holiday miracle. NBC’s keeping its late night icon and cutting its primetime expense. And the big story, the Screen Actors’ Guild gearing up for a vote on whether to strike.
We put the business of Hollywood in perspective with Michael Speier, the executive editor of Daily Variety. He says a SAG strike would be a huge blow to the Los Angeles economy.
Michael Speier: It would affect it in a monumental way, because everybody attached to a television show or attached to a movie — and that’s the real behind-the-scenes players. When the writers went on strike, you saw a lot of people lose their jobs temporarily. Shows that went off the air, people were let go in the technical aspects of the shows and the movies. People pulling their kids out of private school, people selling their houses, people moving. All of that would be compounded by the fact that the economy is so bad, that LA, which is kind of . . . the entertainment business is so needed in this city, it would just collapse.
Chiotakis: All right, NBC moving Jay Leno from after the news to before the news into primetime, five nights a week at the same time, 10 o’clock Eastern, what kind of money are we talking about in savings because NBC’s not having to produce primetime programming?
Speier: Exactly, and it’s going to be in the millions and millions and millions of dollars. Because it’s not just primetime programming, it’s expensive primetime programming. The costs of, let’s say a Law and Order or something like that, has skyrocketed into the millions of dollars per episode. And the problem with that, of course, is now you have five fewer hours a week to take care of. And so the creative community is angry, because that’s less programming that they get to pitch and they get to make. And of course, NBC says well, this is what the public wants, they want Jay Leno at that time, we just have to wait and see if that’s exactly true.
Chiotakis: So some big flicks coming out today, any success stories that you see?
Speier: Well, “The Day The Earth Stood Still,” it’s Keanu Reeves, it’s a big event movie and it’s opening in a large amount of theaters, and so that’s probably going to do it. “Four Christmases” is holding on extremely well, it’s kind of a comedy that’s kind of hit a chord with everyone. But now is the time of year you see a lot of these prestige picks opening up, or what we call platforming. And you see something like “Doubt” with Meryl Streep, based on the stage play. Or “The Reader,” which is, you know, a World War II movie with Kate Winslet and Ray Fines. You see these movies kind of opening in few theaters and see how they do. “Milk” did very well a couple of weeks ago, “Slum Dog Millionaire,” “Frost Nixon.” They open in small amounts of theaters, if they do well they platform out. That’s what we’re going to see with a lot of movies now every weekend, along with some of the big ones coming down the pike. But this weekend should be all about Keanu Reeves.
Chiotakis: Michael Speier from Daily Variety. Thank you.
Speier: My pleasure.
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