Last week at the studios, the ultimate subject to steer clear of was the List. Most studios have one; it’s just that no one will admit to having seen it.
The List contains the pecking order of dismissals if a writers strike goes ahead. At one studio, the List says all producers, directors and writers under contract are force majeured on day one of a strike. Without delay.
The second group headed for the door, a couple of weeks later, consists of junior execs in most areas except marketing, distribution and post-production.
An independent attorney who, like many in Hollywood, is busy trying to handicap the Machiavellian machinations of the List, figured the first to go will be secretaries, assistants and anyone working on a contract basis.
Not all of those compiling versions of the List are on the same page, however.
One topper said his studio has “thought about” making a list, but they’re checking it twice before lowering the boom, in part because they believe strikes may yet be averted.
Another factor is the amount of time a work stoppage would have to last in order to make a dent in the balance sheet. Given the amount of product studios have stockpiled, that could be six months or more, the studio chief estimated. Such cuts would be determined and made then, not now.
“It’s all about the process,” the exec said, “meaning, it’s about where you are in the digestive tract of production. Post-production houses won’t feel a short strike at all. The agencies would feel the effects of one right away.
“Because of the (demands of) the season, TV networks would be the first to make cuts. But as for movie studios, we are all secretly hoping for a quick, one-month strike — just so everyone can take a breath after this pace.”