Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Alli Unger

Anonymous Google Survey Attempts To Bring Clarity And Parity To TV Writing Industry

Have you seen the new anonymously created Google survey making its way around social media networks? If you haven't had a chance to check it out yet, here is a link to the full document. 

Dollar bill on a white counter top

The anonymous survey of Hollywood screenwriters began circulating early last week. Since it was released to the Internet on Tuesday, January 23, it has received HUNDREDS of responses. Respondents include new to experienced writers, producers, and directors from a variety of studios, networks, and positions including TV execs, writing staff, coordinators, and assistants. The survey aims to help unveil some of "the mystery of salaries" in the entertainment industry, and help more properly equip new AND established professionals as they work to negotiate career deals. 

The survey comes at an interesting time considering the great momentum of the "Time's Up" movement making its way through the Entertainment industry and around the world. Within the last few months, numerous industry professionals have began speaking out against the present gender and racial inequalities present in the industry, including pay disparities. The statements and stories continue to make headline news almost daily. 

According to an article by Silverscreen, the anonymous TV writing survey was prompted by a recent statement made by Grey's Anatomy star, Ellen Pompeo, regarding the wage gap she experienced between herself and her former male co-star, Patrick Dempsey. 

"At one point, I asked for $5,000 more than him just on principle, because the show is Grey's Anatomy and I'm Meredith Grey. They wouldn't give it to me. And I could have walked away, so why didn't I? It's my show; I'm the number one. I'm sure I felt what a lot of other actresses feel: Why should I walk away from a great part because of a guy? You feel conflicted but then you figure, 'I'm not going to let a guy drive me out of my own house."

The survey, which has only been live one week, has already provided so much insight into just some of the issues that Hollywood professionals, like Ellen Pompeo, face every day. 

While it is difficult to draw any absolute conclusions (due to incomplete information and a handful of variables within the survey), one of the most notable examples of wage disparities between different genders and races within the industry was recently highlighted in an article about the survey by Deadline.

"A co-producer of a CW show produced by CBS that is a female of color earned $10,000 per episode while a white female co-producer at the same network produced by CBS (in its first season) said she earned $14,000 per episode. Meanwhile, a white male co-producer at the CW show produced by Warner Bros. said he was paid $15,500 per episode."

Although it is disheartening to see these inequalities within the same studio, it is comforting and hopeful for the future to see that the survey also reveals that some companies ARE getting it right. As demonstrated on the "Writer Salary" tab of the results spreadsheet:

A staff writer of a CW show produced by Warner Bros that is a female of color earned $4,068 per week, while another staff writer at the same network and studio that is a white male ALSO earned $4,068 per week. 

This is unfortunately not an issue that we can expect to disappear overnight, but this survey, as well as the equivalent survey circulating for TV actors, are a step in the right direction. By bringing greater awareness to the issue, we can hope that action will begin to be taken by top- AND lower-level industry professionals and help bring greater parity to both TV writers and actors. 

Again, if you haven't had a chance to see the survey results, we greatly encourage you to check it out when you have a minute using the link at the beginning of this post. 

We look forward to hearing more about reactions, reports, and findings from the survey as it continues to gain momentum across the Internet. 

Time is up! Are you ready for a change?

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