Hollywood stunned by new pay law
Thanks to California’s new salary history law, TV stars’ pay is skyrocketing, said Daniel Holloway. The state “barred employers this year from asking prospective workers how much money they made in previous jobs.” The law was designed to redress a wage disparity: Women and minorities often earn less than white men early in their careers, a pay gap that sticks with workers through the years. It’s had an immediate effect in Hollywood, killing “the long-enshrined quote system” that let studios negotiate with actors based on their pay history. Casting directors say the law has “helped people that have been marginalized in the past.” But combined with the rise of content-hungry streaming platforms, the new rules have had the biggest effect “at the top of the call sheet.” Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston will each be paid $1.1 million per episode for an as yet untitled Apple dramedy, and Julia Roberts $600,000 per episode for Amazon’s new series Homecoming. Now that studios can no longer negotiate based on the quote, they have to give more thought to an actor’s “value to the project.” The downside? As stars’ salaries go up, there may be less money left for the rest of an ensemble cast—sometimes the very people California’s law was designed to aid.