Wednesday, November 19, 2014


As Bloomberg relates:

Pixar President Edwin Catmull acknowledged the use of such agreements when he was questioned by lawyers for thousands of employees who sued his company, along with Apple, Google and four others, in 2011. An unapologetic Catmull said he was trying to help the industry survive by stopping hiring raids, remarks that triggered a trio of complaints in the last three months against animation studios in California. ...

People sent me the Brew's take on this, and I keep getting asked about the wage fixing. My response:

"Sure, wage fixing goes on. The problem is proving it." ...

My opinion? The only time there hasn't been some sort of collusion reining in wages in L.A. was during the mid-90s, when Jeffrey Katzenberg and Michael Eisner went to war with one another and began bidding up the price of talent.

That was a grudge match, and lasted for years. TV salaries went up at the same time, topping out at the end of the decade. In the twenty-first century, studio have become increasingly aggressive about holding down salaries, so the fact that they're forging agreements with one another isn't a surprise.

Now we have Dr. Catmull admitting same in depositions, and stating it's the right and proper thing to do. But why not? It saves the companies for which he works significant coin, and there is minimal downside.

Until now.

There are currently a pile of lawsuits; Diz Co. and others are telling the court that the suits should be thrown out, and the judge has scuttled an earlier settlement, saying the $324 million both side had agreed on wasn't big enough because there was "evidence of an overarching conspiracy."

No kidding. But winning cases in court, convincing juries of significant damages, could still be a steep hill to climb.


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