When exec producer David Nuell exited Warner Bros.’ “Extra – The Entertainment Magazine” last week, much was made of the fact that he will retain an ownership interest in the show. But it could be a long time, if ever, before Nuell sees a penny.
Industry insiders say the way most contracts are written, profit participants can’t collect until the studio erases all red ink.
WB is racking up millions of dollars a year in deficits on the freshman strip, which had start-up costs of more than $40 million and relatively low license fees. So if “Extra” survives and turns a profit in, say, its fifth year, it would take several more years before the syndicator recoups its hefty deficit.
Only a few syndicated series, such as “Extra” competitor “Entertainment Tonight,” have survived that long, making such prospects slim. That is why producers say they prefer to work on reality strips, which are cheap to produce and relatively deficit-free if they are a success.
Genesis Entertainment’s “Real Stories of the Highway Patrol,” for instance, only costs about $150,000 a week to produce, and immediately went into the black.