The Leafs, the Rob Ford Movie, and Equal Pay

Nappoholics Anonymous is a weekly column featuring twelve random thoughts by actor Tony Nappo. Some are funny, some are poignant, some bother him, and some make him weep from sadness while others make him weep for joy. Here are his thoughts: unfiltered, uncensored, and only occasionally unsafe for work.

1. Okay, I’ve studied all the stats and it looks like, as long as we can hold Boston to scoring less than five goals per game and we can play all of the rest of the games in Toronto, we pretty much got this round won.

2. The most surprising thing to me when Ben Ayres and I signed on to star in A Night at the Roxbury 2 is that nobody had already made a sequel yet!!!!!! That’s just nuts!!!!

3. Every single thing Doug Ford has promised so far has turned out to be a thing he can’t actually do. If that guy doesn’t get caught smoking crack soon, his campaign is gonna end up in real trouble.

4. Ella made me buy her this as a snack. She was so excited when we got home that she read the ingredients out loud to me: pure gluten-free oats, bananas, sunflower oil, cocoa, butter, cane sugar, crisp brown rice, vegetable extracts including spinach, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, shit take, beets, mush—

Me- Did you just say shit take?

Ella- That’s what it says.

Me- Isn’t that one word?

Ella- Yeah.

Me- What exactly is that?

Ella- The stuff that makes you shit.

Me- Ah.

5. Not sure why everyone is so upset that Damian Lewis has been cast as Rob Ford in Run This Town. He played Umma in two episodes of Kim’s Convenience last season (uncredited) while Jean Yoon was holding out over contract negotiations and nobody even noticed. The guy is that fucking good.

6. If the White Guys Matter controversy proved anything to anyone, it’s that the old adage is true: there is no such thing as bad publicity… and there are still a shit ton of misogynist trolls out there waiting to pounce.

7. Top 5 Donald Trump Video Rentals

5- Tinkle All The Way

4- The Spy Who Loved Pee

3- The Long Piss Goodnight

2- 9 and 1/2 Leaks

1- The Wiz

8.

9. If you think Kadri’s three-game suspension is too long for a hit that could put a guy in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, you’re not a hockey fan. You’re an asshole. If he asks for it, drop your gloves and fight him. Don’t try to break his spine from behind. That’s not vigilantism. That’s cowardice.

10. I think the mistake the American made here was to tell his opponent where he was going to strike him so that he could evacuate the area and to actually not strike him until that area was completely evacuated.

11. Amen of the Week

12. I have been thinking about equal pay in the entertainment industry for a long time, and I will say two things. One won’t be popular. One will.

Actors have two values that they can use to negotiate with: 1) how good they are/how right for the part they are, and 2) how much attention will they bring to a given project/what their box office draw is. And number two holds way more financial worth to a producer than number one does. By a very wide margin.

Here is how negotiations start on any project, be it film or television. You are offered a part and offered an amount of money for it. Weekly for theatre. Daily for film and TV, unless you get a picture deal or an episodic rate, which are usually higher rates and typically cover all of your travel and overtime and ADR and whatnot. After the initial offer, you will go back to them with a counteroffer and see if you can get a higher rate of pay. They might say yes or no depending on what you bring to the project, and it will go back and forth like that until you either settle on a number or they move on to their next choice. (Oh, yes. They always have a next choice.)

No two actors are playing the same part or working the exact same amount of hours or days, so it’s hard to measure or even define the amount of “work” being done. I often feel like the better the part is, the less I care about the money because it’s an opportunity to do good work. Also, it depends who I am going to be working with and whether I think I will be a better actor after the project for having had the experiences. I’d do a scene with De Niro for bus fare—me paying his bus fare, that is. But if De Niro and I are both in the same film with the same days and the same amount of lines, should we get paid the same amount? Of course not. And in terms of men and women being paid the same, no they shouldn’t. Should Meryl Streep be paid the same amount as me in the same scenario? Of course not. She should be paid way more. The same as De Niro would have been paid.

The great thing about negotiating is that you can set your own price. How much will I accept to do this job? Once you agree to it, you’ve agreed to it, and that’s that. There are, of course, very rare exceptions like the time I agreed to favoured nations (everyone getting paid the same rate) on a film (which was below scale) until I got to set and realized it was only the non-name actors getting favored nations. And the celebrity cast was being paid their usual rates. In this case, I called my agent at the time and said that it was certainly not favoured nations at all. That this film had all kinds of money and that I wanted at least scale, or I was going to quit the film because we had been lied to. Rather than fire or replace me, they gave it to me and I ended up making more money than any of the leads on the film. Probably because it was simpler and easier for the producers. The other folks were playing leads in the film and might not have cared at all because opportunity is never that bad of a trade for money.

Not unlike the actress, Claire Foy, playing Queen Elizabeth in The Crown. Did she deserve less money than the actor playing her husband Philip, Matt Smith? Hell, no—not after seeing the first season of the series. But nobody had seen the first season of the series before it was shot. She was not a name. She was very established and accomplished but primarily to British audiences. He was Doctor Fuckin Who!!! Doctor Who, for reasons I will never understand, is fucking huge. He is a huge draw. Those fans go just berserk for that shit. He deserved whatever he negotiated for and she was wise to take whatever she did take because she is a star now based on her work on this show, and should make the same if not more than him now and make more than most men for the rest of her life. Sometimes you sacrifice the money for the opportunity. It’s long-term vs. short-term thinking.

One thing I will say here that I predict will be popular is that, when negotiating—most especially for leads—there should be complete transparency. Foy should have been able to ask and get a truthful answer on how much Smith/Doctor Who was making. And if she wanted to demand equal pay, she could have. The ugly truth is that the producers could very likely have said no to that and moved on to the next choice. As amazing as she is on the series, some other actress could have been just as or even more amazing. There is never any shortage of actors who can kill any role. Don’t kid yourself: actors rarely get paid for ability at that level. Ability is expected. It’s a requirement to even be in the running. Actors are only paid over and above for their ability to draw an audience.

So, to conclude here, I don’t think male and female actors should be paid the same at all. I think sometimes men should be paid more and sometimes women should be paid more. And every actor should continue to cash in on whatever it is they have going for them for as long as they possibly can. Because often actors just fall out of favour and careers end for no discernible reason at all. Although one reason is that they continue to demand a rate of pay that nobody thinks they are worth.

I do feel very strongly that there should be complete transparency in negotiations in terms of what all of the actors are being offered so that co-stars’ salaries can be weighed in the decision-making process. This way, actors can continue to negotiate for the highest possible amount they can make on a project and producers can continue to pay actors as little as humanly possible. Because that, in terms of business, actually does serve both sides.

In terms of theatre, all of the same rules apply, but who cares? Theatre pays fuck all, anyway.

Written By

Tony is Italian, he’s from Scarborough, he’s an actor, he’s a father, he’s a really good house painter, and he doesn’t believe that most things matter, ultimately, at all.