‘Housewives’ finds answer to art woes

Exec producers strike deal with FineArtAmerica

The exec producers behind “Desperate Housewives” have sketched out a unique solution to their art problem.

In an arrangement believed to be one of the first of its kind, ABC Studios has struck a deal with FineArtAmerica, an online art distributor that boasts a catalog of over 650,000 fully licensed prints.

Under the deal, “Housewives” producers will be able to log on and pick any piece of art to use as a prop on the show’s set; every item in the catalog comes from an artist who has already agreed to FineArtAmerica’s license terms. The artists receive just a $100 stipend from ABC Studios in addition to the cost of the actual art work. But for the artists, the hope is such exposure will serve to market their wares.

“I do feel that the compensation is fair, and I feel fortunate that my work was selected from the thousands of fine artists that are available online,” said artist Sam Sidders, whose work has been purchased by the “Housewives” propmasters. “I view it as a print sale with the excellent opportunity for additional exposure of my work to the public.”

Deal came after “Housewives” was regularly fighting off artists who claimed the show didn’t have the rights to display their work.

“Housewives” (like most series) traditionally leased artwork from a prop house. But artists would catch wind that their work was being televised on the show, claiming they didn’t give the prop house the rights to it, according to FineArtAmerica prexy/CEO Sean Broihier.

“An artist would come after ABC and ‘Desperate Housewives’ in an attempt to hold up the airing of the show or the syndication of the show,” Broihier said. “The issue is it’s difficult to locate the original artist for every single piece of artwork on a show.”

“Housewives” exec producer George Perkins, who first sought out FineArtAmerica to figure out a new way to obtain art, called the deal “a perfect remedy for the legal issues around securing quality artwork for the program.”

“Since the artists have already greenlighted their artwork, we are no longer encumbered by the red tape typically faced by production teams,” he said.

Broihier said about 4,500 artists have signed on to take part in the pilot program.

“These artists would have never had the opportunity to get involved in TV licensing,” he said. “Now they have an opportunity to sell directly to the producers. It’s an avenue to sales for these people.”

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