HBO is putting its money where its mouth is.
Casey Bloys, the network’s president of programming, told The Hollywood Reporter that the insanely popular television network series—responsible for favourites such as Game of Thrones, Insecure and Big Little Lies– is making some important changes to pay disparities within their programming. Bloys says that HBO’s decision to take a proactive approach to eliminating the pay gap within their roster is due to the influence of Time’s Up, as well as ongoing conversations with pay equality advocate and BLL cast member Reese Witherspoon.
“One of the things that’s come out of thinking about the movement and some conversations with Reese, who’s really at the forefront, is something we’ve done recently,” Bloys told THR. “We’ve proactively gone through all of our shows—in fact, we just finished our process where we went through and made sure that there were no inappropriate disparities in pay; and where there were, if we found any, we corrected it going forward. And that’s is a direct result of the Time’s Up movement.”
Witherspoon, who proudly identifies as a feminist, helped Time’s Up receive global attention at the 75th Golden Globe Awards in January. In fact, Witherspoon’s BLL cast-mates Zoe Kravitz, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern and Nicole Kidman, have all joined Witherspoon in their public support for Time’s Up.
We don’t want another The Crown incident
Bloys maintains that during a show’s inaugural season, well-known actors are normally paid more than their lesser-known cast-mates. However, he says that as a series increases in popularity, HBO will do its due diligence to ensure that all actors and actresses are paid fairly for their work.
“When you’re putting a show together, people come in with different levels of experience and maybe some people have won awards or something that makes them stand out,” he says. “But when you get into season two or three of a show and the show is a success, it is much harder to justify paying people wildly disparate numbers, and that’s where you have to make sure that you’re looking at the numbers — that they don’t end up just on the path they were on from the pilot stage.”
On March 13, producers from Netflix’s The Crown admitted to paying Claire Foy– who plays the titular role of Queen Elizabeth II– less than her costar (and on-screen husband) Matt Smith. According to them, this was because Smith had an established popularity from his time portraying Dr. Who in the highly successful British TV series from 2010-2013. Foy, however, was a relatively-unknown actress when The Crown began filming.
When news of the pay disparity broke, fans of the female-led drama criticized the network for not increasing the actress’ pay despite the show (and Foy’s impressive performance of Her Royal Highness) receiving high praise (Foy herself has said she’s ‘not surprised‘ by the strong reactions).
However, The Crown‘s producers are committed to fixing the pay disparity, noting that “going forward, no one gets paid more than the Queen.” Actress Olivia Colman will be taking over the reigns from Foy, portraying a middle-aged Queen in Seasons 3 and 4.
Although Bloys never let it slip which HBO shows had “inappropriate pay disparities,” the network is—at the very least—moving in the right direction.
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