As usual, the headlines are misleading, and the reporting is soaked with emotion.. Michelle Williams Is Reportedly Worth 1500% Less Than Mark Walberg To Sony…
is a typical example. Fake news. Mark Wahlberg reportedly made 1500 times what Michelle Williams did for All the Money reshoots. True, but misleading. Here is what happened:
“All the Money in the World” is the film that had to be substantially re-shot after tyhe decision was made to make Kevin Spacey, in a major role, disappear, with his part taken by Christopher Plummer. This required far more re-shooting than a typical finished film requires. Most movie contracts require a certain number of reshoot days as a routine stipulation for the actors, who must make themselves available as needed. If more than the usual additional filming is needed, however, actors are not obligated to work beyond what they reasonably expected. Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg had agreed to appear in “All the Money in the World” for less than their standard fee, but when they had to go an extra mile to let the film be completed, they each took a different tack.
Williams was nice, and quickly agreed to return, believing, without being told so,that other participants had made the same decision. She even worked over Thanksgiving, arranging for her 12-year-old daughter, Matilda, to spend the holiday without her. “They could have my salary, they could have my holiday, whatever they wanted,” she Told the New York Times. “Because I appreciated so much that they were making this massive effort.” (…to get rid of Kevin Spacey!)
Her co-star Mark Wahlberg, however, realized that he had leverage over the production team. He was the only major cast member with no commitment to reshoot his scenes. The finished film was set to be released in theaters in about a month, on December 25, so he had terrific leverage. In Hollywood, leverage equals big bucks. He told his primary agent, Doug Lucterhand, to play hardball, and negotiate for as much money as he could get.
The production company ultimately agreed to a $1.5 million payment.
Is this gender discrimination? No. Is it an example of bias? No. Is it unfair? Well, only in that life is unfair, some people are more shrewd than others, Hollywood isn’t kindergarten, and nice guys finish last, as Leo Durocher said.
I don’t blame Williams for being upset, but she should be upset at herself. Wahlberg negotiated, she didn’t. She should fire her advisors and agents, perhaps, but she should also take responsibility for being a fool. One of the major factors in the so-called gender gap is that women are often poor negotiators, don’t ask for enough, and don’t use leverage when they have it. She was nice, and I’m sure the movie’s producers were grateful. Maybe they’ll want to hire her again, because she was nice. But Mark Wahlberg has an extra 1,5 million bucks that she doesn’t, because he was smart.
Do you think the film-makers decided to do a major re-shoot and not include a provision for actors who demanded extra money? Of course they did. Williams didn’t make them dip into their emergency funds, that’s all. Wahlberg did.
Actress Jessica Chastain tweeted,
“Please go see Michelle’s performance in All The Money in The World. She’s a brilliant Oscar nominated Golden Globe winning actress. She has been in the industry for 20 yrs. She deserves more than 1% of her male costar’ s salary.”
This is a completely foolish statement. Wahlberg was paid extra because he had the right to refuse to let William’s brilliant performance be seen at all, as did she. He made the film pay him not to exercise that right, she didn’t. How good an actress Williams is doesn’t have anything to do with what they were paid. Neither does how many years she’s been in the business. He demanded more money. That’s tough, that gutsy, but it’s not unethical. He has no obligation to take less money than he can get because his co-star is a patsy and was so flushed with #MeToo fervor that she jumped at the chance to help make Kevin Spacey a non-person. She got what she wanted, and Wahlberg got what he wanted. Now she wants what he got.
The caterwauling from feminists, gender pay activists, the unions and, I hate to say it, from economics-ignorant or dishonest journalists is embarrassing to them all, or should be. What exactly should the film company have done? Insist on paying Williams more after she quickly agreed to do the re-shoots for nothing? Agree to Wahlberg’s demands, and then give Williams the money she didn’t ask for, thus triggering demands from the other actors? Give Wahlberg an ultimatum, and have him kill the movie so they can be true to feminist principles?
Sorry Bernie, but this is still a capitalist system, and no business is more capitalist than the movie business. Williams knows that. Wahlberg is better at it. Stop whining and learn how to play. No, the producers did nothing unethical by paying one star more than another under these circumstances. If Walhberg had been the nice guy, and Williams had squeezed the producers for 1.5 million, do you know what Jessica Chastain would be tweeting?
“You go girl!”