Monday, September 11, 2006

Rampaging Production Bosses

A half-dozen years ago, I was awakened from sound sleep by an angry board artist. He wasn't pounding on my door (thank God) but calling on the phone. At midnight. After I fumbled the handset off the nightstand and got the earpiece lined up with an auditory canal, he said: "Steve Hulett? Sorry to bother you so late, but you've GOT to get our production manager fired!" My frontal lobes had shut down for the night, but I managed to crank one of them up to half power and croak that I didn't have enough influence to get any management person terminated. "Management," I said, "can hire or fire anyone it wants. It doesn't listen to me." "Well, you gotta go and complain, get him fired ANYWAY!" said the artist. "He's destroying the crew! And the show!" The man was angry and agitated. And determined. So the following day, I did as he asked. I went to upper management and laid out the problem, relaying the crew's plea for relief. With predictable results. The production manager was retained and went on tormenting the crew; the t.v. series -- on which the bad managing was occuring -- limped to its inevitable end. By and by, everyone went their separate ways. Now, this kind of thing doesn't happen that often, but at the end of last week a new version of it happened again. Thursday morning I got a call from a designer I know who asked that I "come to a meeting at ten o'clock in ***** studio's downstairs conference room. We have a problem." Once more I did as requested (that's what a good little union business representative does if they want to get re-elected). This time (thank God) I didn't have to ask for anyone's dismissal. I just sat in the corner of a smallish conference room and took notes as four artists and a production person unloaded to a human resource manager about the abuses of their production boss. They told of threats of termination, of over-the-line pushing and pulling, of rude remarks about body shapes and weights. About overall deranged and bad behavior. The supervisor they were complaining about has been in the 'toon business a long time, but apparently is getting more erratic and disorganized as he goes along. The actions they described aren't common, but do occur at almost every studio in town every now and again. I know of sexual harrassment, of screaming and yelling, of physical assaults. What is unusual is having five victims go to human resources and complain as a group. This time, I think management might take action, because some key artists have threatened to quit. And how was your day?


Anonymous said...

Quit?! Threaten to sue if it's sexual harrassment! That'll get the changes they want.

RedDiabla said...

Glad to see those artists sticking up for themselves! Way to go!

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