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Anonymous
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posted: 7/18/2003 at 10:59:45 AM ET
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I hope that no one thinks that I am being rude in asking this question, but it is something that I have been wondering for quite some time.
I have visited New York several times. It is certainly an expensive vacation. I imagine that it must be very expensive to live there (between rent, food, etc.) This brings me to my question. How much money does a broadway performer make for doing a Broadway show? Do they have to take out second jobs? The salaries of movie stars are often publicized. I know that many celebrities choose films because they are more lucrative. I also have been wondering how much a big star (like Bernadette) could make for a run in a big Broadway show (like Gypsy). DO they get paid per week, per performance? HOw much do you think they normally take in? Again, I am not trying to be rude (at all)...I really have just been wondering about this...and I know that in a forum like this (with so many obviously knowlegable New Yorkers present) I might get some sort of idea. Thanks!
Robbie

Anonymous
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posted: 7/18/2003 at 12:04:52 PM ET
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well...it depends on the show, the star, and other things. There is an equity minimum of about $1314 a week. Depending on the role or person that number could be higher. No for Bernie...she could earned about $25,000 a week for Annie Get Your Gun and is probably getting close to about $30,000 a week for Gypsy. Hoped this helps

BroadwayBaby123
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posted: 7/18/2003 at 12:14:55 PM ET
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That's actually a really good question. I always wondered myself how much a huge star like Bernadette would make, because obviously it would be way above the minimum wage!

I know it's a touchy subject to ask how much money people make, but I think it's a legitimate question since most people haven't a clue about how much Broadway stars make in relation to movie stars. In my opinion, they should be getting paid about a gazillion times more than anyone in a movie because their work is so much more exhausting.

Bwaybaby
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posted: 7/18/2003 at 2:28:06 PM ET
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The minimum for a Broadway performer is a little over $1000/wk( I think its $1354 now). However, in many cases agents get about 10% of that and managers get about 15%. Plus there is an $800 initiation fee for Equity and Union dues are thirty-seven dollars every six months plus two percent working dues deducted weekly.


Many Broadway performers have 2nd jobs in addition to being on Broadway. Most actors on Broadway are not stars and do not make the kind of money that Bernadette makes. I don't think discussing her exact salary is appropriate for this forum though





mikee
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posted: 7/18/2003 at 2:39:30 PM ET
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Post your question on backstage.com

I'm sure you could get more details from them...

Christine-NYC
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Fav. BP Song: With So Little to be Sure Of
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Fav. BP Character: Marie (insert last name) lol There's a few
Fav. BP CD: Bernadette Peters Loves Rogers and Hammerstein

posted: 7/18/2003 at 5:08:20 PM ET
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I don't know if I agree that Broadway performers should get paid so much more than a movie actor. I'm a film major, and I can tell you first hand that it's not as easy as it looks to make a movie. Film actors have to do take after take after take (much like a Broadway performer doing the same act every night). Now, I am not knocking Broadway performers...they work incredibly hard. Truthfully, I think performing on Broadway has much more meaning. Movie actors are certainly overpaid, but those are just the big stars. Like the average Broadway performer (meaning chorus members and swing, etc.), the average small role in a film doesn't pay much at all.

But it really is ridiculous that movie stars get millions of dollars for one film, whereas someone like Bernadette (playing the most difficult Broadway role ever night after night) is getting just a small chunk of that in comparison.

<3CMH<3

BroadwayBaby123
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posted: 7/18/2003 at 9:38:01 PM ET
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That's what I mean Christine--that big movie and TV stars really shouldn't be getting paid the excessive amounts of money that they do. I mean, look at the cast of Friends. I have been to a taping of the show, and I saw firsthand that what they are doing. In my opinion, it does not add up to one million dollars an episode. I'm not denying that it's hard work, but look at other jobs in comparison...teachers, one of the most important jobs, get paid DRASTICALLY less. I just think it's kind of sad because it reflects on what our society puts value on.

Working on films and TV is very hard work, no doubt about it. It just seems as if in some cases it would be harder to get up onstage 8 times a week and belt out songs and run yourself ragged dancing day after day. At least big movie actors get the luxury of editing, special effects, and take after take to get exactly the right expression or vocal inflection.

Bwaybaby
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posted: 7/19/2003 at 1:43:50 AM ET
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I don't think it matters what genre you prefer to work in in this business-- whether it be Broadway, Daytime TV, Primetime TV, Film...ect you'll be working your butt off in each one of them. Acting is a profession in which YOU are the deciding factor in whether or not you're successful...you have to market yourself and prove to people that you can do the job ( of course this is especially true when you're just starting out). Yes, Broadway performers work VERY hard but so do actors who work on TV or in movies. I think so many people see someone like Jennifer Aniston driving around in a million dollar car and think she has it easy....

The average Broadway performer works about 24-30 hours/week (give or take) during a non rehearsal period. Compared to the 12+ hours a day that many actors in TV and film spend rehearsing and taping. And then look at these soap actors who are given a totally new script every few days with not much time to learn each one. And then they are expected to do it all in one take!

What you saw was just the taping of the show (FRIENDS)...not the table reading, rehearsals, technical specs, any additional research the actors may have needed to do for that particular episode, filming of any on-location scenes, looping and then there's the taping. And on top of that all....if you're a very successful actor then you probably do a ton of interviews as well.

You're right...it is odd that actors get paid more than teachers, but its how our society works. We as Americans spend billions of dollars going to movies, buying/renting movies and going to shows--its what's in high demand right now. Bernadette does get paid well over the minimum required by Equity, however, she also has a lot more responsibilities as well. SHE is the one who promotes her shows for the most part (such as REGIS interviews), she's basically the "make it or break it" entity of this show's success (not the only thing that determines the show's success, but a big factor in it). She also has more say in her projects than say, an ensemble member may have....so why shouldn't she get paid a little bit more for that?

Its sad that people who may work just as hard or even harder and work a regular (non high-profile job) get paid significantly less then successful actors. But I think the whole privacy thing is a HUGE thing for an actor to sacrifice just to do what they love doing. I have a great deal of respect for those hard working actors who love what they do and have been dedicated to their craft. I also have tons of respect for hard working blue collared workers who are dedicated to their job as well.

Teachers salaries have actually increased a great deal in recent years. Not as much as many actors make but its a start! Which is good

BP Broadway Diva
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Fav. BP Song: Rose's Turn
Fav. BP Show: Gypsy
Fav. BP Character: Rose
Fav. BP CD: Sondheim Etc

posted: 7/19/2003 at 10:19:04 AM ET
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I agree with everything Bwaybay has said! I don't think it matters either on what type of acting it is, because all actors do work hard. I have never done any other aspect of acting other than theatre so I don't know what is like for actors in films and tv on a first hand basis. Daytime actors personally I give them a lot of credit, I don't think I'd be able to handle getting a new script everyday to learn and perform for the next day but that's me. I prefer theatre because I like to play around with the role to see how I can make the character my own and improve. That's just how I am though, plus I love the live audience. There is just something about having them there watching that gives me something extra

*~Danielle~*

"Here she is Boys...Here she is World...Here's Rose!!!"

jmslsu01
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posted: 7/19/2003 at 11:21:01 AM ET
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When an increase in teachers' salaries is reported,it is for new teachers' salaries. Salaries for teachers who have taught for several years have not increased in the same way. That plus burnout leads to a high turnover in the profession. Teachers in private and parochial schools make significantly less than public school teachers. This is part of the reason why inner-city Catholic schools are having lots of trouble.

And yes,salaries are in part affected by societal values (but do not reflect the society's value on the arts as a whole). Teachers in Japan are paid salaries equal to accountants (the arts in Japan are also very important). And when the media reports teacher salaries in the $40,000's, keep in mind that these are average salaries and dependent on geographical locations.

Also keep in mind that the majority of AEA members are unemployment at any given time. The Julia Roberts salaries are a rarity and not normal at all for actors-and no one stays "on top" forever anyway for those that do make those salaries. And regional theaters and independent filmmakers do not get the same backing as do Broadway shows and big studio films,and the creators and actors do not get as much recognition (if Nick Lloyd Webber ever composes for a big studio movie,he'd have more recognition-but who knows if that's what interests him. He's still young and is still developing as an artist.).

Shelley Long is an example that comes to mind-after she left Cheers,her career was never the same (although I do have a fondness for Troop Beverly Hills)and unfortunately,when an actor quits a high profile show to attempt a movie career,it's now called "doing a Shelley." Which is too bad,because I think she's an incredibly gifted comic,which shows even in her flops. She's one of those people who either inspire love or horror-for some reason,those type of people seem to be my favorites. :-)

While I'm not a daytime soap opera fan (my sister was a fan of Days of Our Lives,and I used to watch it sometimes with her. Now that's a weird show.),I do know those people work very hard. There are no reruns in soap opera land (they're paid accordingly,I believe). On the other hand,the writers can run out of ideas for you and decide to give you a truly bizarre death or just include you every now and then. And you have to ride with the show at times-sometimes you're asked to do some bizarre stuff. I imagine soap opera actors have to have a good sense of humor.

Suffice to say,the majority of actors do not make the big bucks. It's an unstable profession,and many don't do it all their life (same for dancers,which is a whole 'nother story),because they're going to hit unemployment.

As for Jennifer Aniston "having it easy"- I would not want that lifestyle at all. Financially,she does have it easy. But otherwise-no privacy,strained relations with parents,constant gossip,etc-I wouldn't want that. Once you're at the top,there's nowhere to go but down-and people love to pounce on that. But she's probably one of the luckier cast members of Friends,since she has shown that she has the possibility of a good film career. The fact that people were talking about a possible Academy Award nomination is a remarkable sign. When you've played a character on TV for so long,it's hard for people to accept you playing another character,and she's done that. Good for her. She was underappreciated on Friends until recently over Lisa Kudrow. She reminds me of an early Barbra Streisand with her broad comedy abilities (without the singing,of course). And she's moving and dramatic without chewing up the scenery.

Jenn


Bwaybaby
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posted: 7/19/2003 at 1:30:16 PM ET
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There are currently around 40,000 Equity members and not nearly as many jobs available...the majority of the members are unemployed and none of them are ever guaranteed steady work.

SAG has 98,000 members- of whom about three-quaters of its members are unemployed at any one time. This is why foundations such as the Actors' Fund exist.
I know jobs for actors can be very hard to come by...which I have even stated- is one of the reasons why I give them so much credit. Many of the big named stars you see now spent a good portion of their life as unemployed, struggling actors before making it big. But there are also those immediate breakout stars making it big as well.


Your comment about Japan is very interesting however, you cannot tell me that their entertainment industry is nearly as popular or in demand as it is here. Also, their education system is--how should I say it...held in a higher respect there.

Traveling is a whole 'nother aspect of the business that actors have to deal with. I have a few friends who toured with different Broadway touring shows and I never knew how they could live like that. I also have a few friends who started our in NYC theatre and ended up choosing to move to LA due to the fact that they couldn't get good work in NY. Keep in mind as well, that if you are a teacher living in Idaho chances are you wouldn't have to move to NY or LA to find a teaching job, But if your an actor living in Idaho chances are you're not going to be able to find many/if any Equity acting jobs living there you're whole life. About half of SAG's 98,000 actors live in LA, one-third in NYC and the rest in secondary markets such as Chicago, Miami and San Francisco.

Yes, new teachers starting salaries are much more then they were 20 years ago. I got approached about a teaching job in a school district that is looking for more teachers and their starting salary is around $64,000/yr...which isn't bad at all. And a teacher's salary does increase with the number of years you've been there and any specific degrees one may hold. The burn out or turn over you refer to is MUCH more common among preschool teachers then it is in the older grades. My Mom has been a teacher now for about 20+ years. Yes, she didn't start off with the kind of starting salary new teachers are getting now but her salary has increased a great deal over the years. This is what happens when the economy changes. Also, because there is a great demand for more teachers in many areas.

If you think about it this way.... what if teaching was the highest paid profession out there? I bet you'd have quite a few people only in it for the money and not the kids.

jmslsu01
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posted: 7/19/2003 at 2:20:47 PM ET
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Of course Japan's entertainment industry is not as popular as is the U.S. entertainment industry. I wasn't intending to compare the two industries.

A teacher may also be in the market for better paying jobs based on the subject matter she/he teaches-Spanish is in great demand now. So of course there are variations. And the states that pay low are experiencing a teacher drain for other states,particularly since there are many young graduates who are geographically mobile. This is happening at universities and colleges which don't pay as much as other institutes-the young assistant professors don't intend to stay there for many years. And some districts are able to afford bonuses-I'm pretty sure some in TX do.

I do agree that if teaching was the highest paid profession you'd have people in it for the money. But teaching being the highest paid profession is not a likely scenario. Teachers in Japan are paid well,but that doesn't mean I would want to teach there,since that is a completely different philosophy of education (which is tied in with their society,of course,so it works for them. Which is why I'm uncomfortable with comparisons between the two,and was reluctant to even mention Japan.).

Of course I realize that most of the better known entertainers spent many years fighting unemployment. I thought that was understood in general. :-)

You're absolutely correct about the traveling-I wouldn't like that as well. Regional theater is finally getting its due,but it's not enough.

BTW-how are you feeling? Good to see you back.

Jenn,tired of the rain










UCFGuardgirl
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posted: 7/19/2003 at 4:12:25 PM ET
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What I find interesting about the entertainment industry is that luck seems to be a giant deciding factor on whether or not someone "makes it." Perhaps this can be said of many professions (right place, right time) but the acting profession really seems to be something you either luck out in or don't. Not that I'm saying talent doesn't have anything to do with it -- you have to have some modicum of talent -- but really, a lot of it seems to be luck.

I'm just thinking of all the multi-talented actors out there who never make it big, and of the few in hollywood who make movie after movie with seemingly very little talent -- Not everyone, mind you, but plenty who are largely untalented but... well... pretty. (Also, Hollywood is one of those places where nepotism can really pay off as well. And all I can say about that is the kids are lucky the parents came first.)

At any rate, I'm not trying to denigrate actors -- I have a lot of respect for the courage and determination it takes to do what they do -- but it's really the one profession I can think of where luck is much more important than training and past experience. Some actors don't have any experience at all when they make it big.

I agree that acting can also be a very frustrating, un-glamorous, tedious, underpaying profession (for most actors. What we see at the oscars and on TV, or even on Broadway, is like watching only one facet of a multifaceted profession. A lot of actors go on hundreds of auditions and never get anything -- on Broadway or in movies.)

My uncle, for instance, did a lot of film work out in LA (a lot of body double and extra work) and he died still trying to really make it. He struggled a hell of a lot to make rent, pay for his upkeep. It's just very hard. My cousin Judy, on the other hand, happened to get really lucky that word of mouth got out about her court room mannerisms. So she sort of fell into fame. (Not that she's technically an actress, but she got LUCKY, and the lucky got her a guest stint on SNL when they spoofed her show.)

So like I was saying, some people get phenomenally lucky. Right place, right time, stars aligned or something similar. And then once you've gotten lucky... well, doors open up.

***************

"I'm not good I'm not bad I'm just right. I'm the witch; you're the world. I'm the hitch; I'm what no one believes, I'm the witch. You're all liars and thieves...oh, why bother?"
-- Into the Woods

BroadwayBaby123
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posted: 7/19/2003 at 5:04:33 PM ET
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I agree UCFGuardgirl. Some people just get plain lucky. A lot of times actors aren't the only people that "decide whether they make it". They are only a part of it, as is the case for most jobs. It's not as if acting is the only profession in which people have to make choices about how hard they want to work.

Tons of people go on one audtion and that sparks the rest of their career. Not to say that's the only thing that makes someone. I think a combination of luck, patience, and talent is really what makes a successful actor.


Bwaybaby
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posted: 7/19/2003 at 5:47:50 PM ET
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I agree with UCFAGuardgirl that yes, luck does have a part in this business. However, luck can only take you so far. An actor can have all the luck in the world but no talent at all and most likely their not going to get very far. But I bet if you went out and talked to all the thousands of unemployed actors they'll ask you what luck even is.

Casting directors are given a list of characteristics (aka a character breakdown) by the project's producer--appearance, mannerisms, age, and acting ability all play a part. Its up to the actor to go to these auditions so they can be seen. Many actors will go to as many as 5 casting calls a day and not be called back for any of them. In most cases a person is not spotted on the street and told right away that they got the part or even asked to audition. That's very rare. The character breakdowns ( some specific. some broad) are already drawn out by those in charge of the project well before the actor steps into the casting directors office. If a producer or casting director is looking for a petite actress in her early 20s , with blonde hair and blue eyes that can do cartwheels with one hand while juggling 3 balls in the other . And a woman fitting this description walks in and lands the role. And then a 6', black haired, middle aged woman walks in who can't do cartwheels while juggling and does not get asked back. Then luck really has nothing to do with it. One actress meets the desired requirements while the other doesn't.

I agree though that if a casting decision is based mainly on an actors appearance then yes, there's luck involved. A lot more goes into it then that though. Even if a casting director likes you at the first casting call. You could be asked back several more times before its decided who is right for the role. Then there's chemistry readings, screen tests, network tests...ect. I'd say, yes that successful actors are very lucky, but in most cases that luck is accompanied by very hard work...Just like UCFAguardgirl stated.

PS-- Jenn, I'm doing OK. Thanks for asking

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