The latest front in Hollywood’s push for pay parity are anonymous Google docs making the rounds in an effort to bring transparency to the going rates for TV writers, actors and assistants.
Two Google docs dubbed “TV Actors SALARY” and “TV WRITERS SALARY” are ricocheting through the industry via social media posts. The documents urge readers to input anonymous information about their salaries for working on series and pilots for specific networks and studios. The spreadsheets ask for gender, race and ethnicity details of contributors as well as the experience level of each person, which has long been one of the biggest determinants of wages.
The spreadsheets have quickly filled up with details. A female co-producer who is a person of color working on an hourlong Warner Bros. TV production for the CW makes $15,000 an episode, for a 23-episode order. A female story editor who is not a person of color working on an hourlong Fox production for A&E Network makes $5,900 a week.
The actors salary list had far fewer entries by early evening Tuesday. Most of the entries on the writers list appeared to come from women but the “M” column was also starting to fill up with entries.
The anonymous, crowd-sourced effort naturally has its limitations as an accurate measure of salaries and disparities between the earnings of the white men who continue to dominate the industry and women and persons of color.
But the effort reflects the activist spirit in this moment of #MeToo and Time’s Up movements focused on combatting sexual harassment in all its forms and breaking down gender, racial and ethnic barriers to employment.
Melissa Silverstein, publisher of the Women and Hollywood blog and artistic director of New York’s annual Athena Film Festival, was among those who spread the word of the docs on Tuesday. Silverstein told Variety that the effort began within the past few days with a group of writers working on TV series. The document was first shared among a small group of writers but took on a life of its own after links were shared via social media.
“It’s trying to take away the mystery of salaries and really empower people to understand how salary decisions get made,” Silverstein said. “It’s trying to help people know what to expect when they’re making a deal.”
The Google docs are another example of how a younger generation of industryites are embracing the ethos of near-total transparency as a means of affecting social change.
“It’s really powerful to share these things,” Silverstein said. “For so long, silence has been encouraged. I think this is an example of people saying ‘We will be silent no more.’ “