ATTN JMS: Gross or net?

B5JMS Poster b5jms-owner at
Sat Jul 5 06:09:31 EDT 1997

Unavailable article: Message-ID <33B5DB6D.4720 at>

From: jmsatb5 at (Jms at B5)
Date: 29 Jun 1997 19:05:39 -0400
Lines: 52

"Here's my question, if you don't mind my prying:  Are you getting a cut
of the gross this time or the net again?"

No, the contract between me and WB for B5 is the same in that respect for
every year of the series.  I have a piece of the net...which means that I
won't ever see a dime on this thing.  For instance...we know, for
dead-certain, that this show has shown a profit for WB every year. 
They've *said* as much to us, we know that the only reason the PTEN shows
were kept on was that they had to show a profit.  Okay, now with that in's my profit/loss statement on the show to date, and it shows
we're $42 million in the red.

C' believe that?  For that to happen, not one single commercial
would have ever been sold, not one piece of merchandising, not one foreign
sale...nada.  We both know that ain't possible.  But that's the figure
they show.  How?  They charge one project against another; hide profit in
cross-collatoral books that are almost impossible to untangle...they
charge interest on overhead and overhead on interest (I'm not making that
up) so that it never ends.  Because this was the first show I'd created, I
wasn't able to get a good definition of what "net" means, and so basically
I'm screwed ad infinitum.

The only area where I *do* have a piece of the gross is, ironically, in
the one area where I've dragged my feet from day one: merchandising.  The
Writers Guild stipulates a 6% royalty on all merchandise (not counting
soundtracks, videotapes and other related areas).  So by all rights I
should be out pushing every deal I can get...but instead I'm fighting WB
to keep the number of deals down so that we can control the quality.

Go figure.

But thing is, bottom line, I ain't in this for the money.  For starters,
if that was the End All, I'd've stayed at CBS and Murder, She Wrote, where
my salary was almost double what it was to come and do B5.  But I wanted
to tell this story, and the simple reality is, you can only sleep in one
bed at a time, eat one meal at a time, drive one car at a much
do you need?  Yeah, in comparison with guys like Michael Eisner and other
folks who run studios, I'm grossly underpaid; but in comparison with the
people who do the *real* work that keeps this country moving, the
important work, the nurses and the bricklayers and the teachers, I'm
grossly *over*paid.  So I'm not going to complain.  Fact is, I'm being
given the capacity to tell this story, in front of millions of people, and
they're actually paying me to do something that I'd do for free anyway.  

What more can you ask for?


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