Soaps: Slash-and-Burn Salary Cutting Moves From US to the BBC
By Lynda Hirsch
Jan 31, 2009
U.S. soaps are not alone in their slash-and-burn salary cutting. "The East Enders," produced and carried by the British Broadcasting Corp., which is owned by the government, is slashing the stars' salaries by at least 25 percent. Barbara Windsor, who has played Peg Mitchell since the show debuted, is having her salary reduced by 90,000 pounds per year.
It has been reported that Windsor was making over 350,000 pounds per year. Since the rate of currency exchange keeps going up and down, we cannot offer the exact equivalent -- but no matter what the exchange rate, Windsor is losing at a lot of dough.
The BBC is not just cutting soap-opera budgets. Its chat (talk) show hosts are also losing pounds, and we don't mean weight -- although the weight of their wallets will be reduced. Presenters (on-air reporters) are also being told to take the cut or take the highway.
Speaking of slash and burn, when the dust settles on "General Hospital's" fire storyline, the hospital will be decimated. Come April, the old set -- which has been around for 45 years -- will get a high-tech look.
The reasons are twofold. The hospital is looking a bit run down. Once, the large nurses' station set was the scene of a lot of action and gossip. Those days are long gone. Also, the new set will allow the show to use less room and show more hospital.
So, who foots the bill? The Quatermaine family. The family is getting smaller -- and we hear it will be even smaller after the disaster.
"Days of our Lives" is still slashing its budget. The latest major character to get the ax is Tony (Thaao Penghlis). The poor actor has gotten bounced around more the Lebron James' basketball. This will be the third time he has been let go.
Last year, Penghlis was the first "Days" actor in 20 years to be given a Daytime Emmy nomination.
Whenever "Days" fires an actor, they have a ceremony. They present a cake. (With the tough new budgets, maybe it has been downsized to Krispy Kreme doughnut.) Penghlis has never wanted that cake. The first time he was let go, he told the bosses: no cake. "Every one stands around smiling," he said. "I call it the cake of death."
So how does Tony exit? Salem is getting just what it needs -- another murder mystery. Please, no! The sad thing about this is that Tony could have had a great storyline. He is the only DiMera who has a conscience. Yes, he can do bad things -- but he always suffers and wants to be a better person. That is the stuff of Greek tragedy.
When soaps were really great, they did a lot of Greek tragedy. Now, the only tragic thing seems to be the wholesale slaughter of fine actors. Of course, it won't just be Tony who is murdered by the latest Salem serial killer.
Over the years, "Days" has had a slasher, a shooter and a stalker. Not so long ago, it looked as if the entire cast had been killed off. They were not really dead, however, they were taken to an island that was set up to look just like Salem. Oy vey.
Is there no good news in daytime? There is one positive point. Tony Geary (Luke) has re-upped with "General Hospital." There was some talk that the actor might not stay with the show.
If there was a sticking point, it was Geary's clause that he has several weeks on the show and then several off. Do not look for that to change.
Usually, we do not like it when an actor can come and go at will. If it keeps Geary, however, great. Also, Luke exiting town whenever things go bad really is a part of his character. Luke wants to stay by the people he loves. He also wants to escape responsibility. So Luke's now-you-see-him, now-you-don't works.
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