Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Straight Talk from Nikki Finke:

WME (William Morris Endeavor Entertainment) this week put in place that new pay schedule for WME assistants I told you was coming. The New York office's was announced first, followed by the Beverly Hills headquarters. "Can you believe they decided to break the news to us in a meeting disguised to discuss our new health insurance plans?" one BH source tells me. "And, of course, nothing in writing... Just a scale told to us nonchalantly." The new agency had to "recalculate" the pay for WMA assistants (about $13.50 an hour) to be more on par with Endeavor assistants (about $9.50 an hour). Manwhile, Endeavorites were earning more overtime tham WMAers.

So here's what begins August 1st:
Under 1 year - $11/hour
1 - 2 years - $12/hr
2 - 3 years $13/hr
Over 3 years - $14/hr
The pay increases $1/hr for every year over 3 that the assistant is employed.
Any raises from the end-of-year reviews have been taken off the table.
Official hours are from 9-7 PM and a 50-hour work week is expected.

There are faint rumblings of a walk-out, especially because the assistants tell me that they are taking on much more work. Needless to say, the famous UTA joblist is making the rounds especially among the majority of William Morris assistants who are taking a huge pay cut -- on average 20% to 35%! -- and sense that the ladder of opportunity for them no longer exists. The WMAers feel there is favoritism being shown the Endeavorites. They claim that whenever Ari Emanuel makes the rounds, he chats with many Endeavor assistants but does not take any time with the WMA assistants. It sounds petty, but this stuff does matter. On the other hand, not all th ese assistants are wet behind the ears. Many have law and business graduate degrees or years of working in other fields, and knew going in that the agency biz has a god-awful paying apprenticeship.Then again, there've been many California government crackdowns on what is tantamount to showbiz slave labor.

Working as an assistant in Hollywood is no easy task. Some jobs require long hours and tolerating ego maniac executives and their need to treat their assistants as whipping boards. I've heard stories of temper tantrums and even objects being thrown around the room. This paycut is definitely not worth some of the abuse that assistants go through in order to reach the next level in the business. But maybe if the assistants decide to walkout, it will show some of the ego trippin H'wood execs that their assistants are the glue that keeps everything moving and finally pay them their worth and give them the respect that they so deserve.


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