Premium cable is edging toward parity.
HBO has closed up “inappropriate” pay gaps on its shows, a network executive recently told The Hollywood Reporter in a wide-ranging talk about the hit drama “Big Little Lies” and other programming — crediting the Time’s Up pay equality movement engulfing Hollywood and other industries.
“One of the things that’s come out of thinking about the movement and some conversations with Reese (Witherspoon), who’s really at the forefront, is something we’ve done recently,” said HBO president of programming Casey Bloys. “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 is a direct result of the Time’s Up movement.”
HBO is home to megahits like “Game of Thrones,” “Westworld” and the forthcoming Amy Adams-starring miniseries “Sharp Objects.” And while Bloys shied from naming any offending shows, he noted that “people are getting what they deserve. So, I’m sure they were happy but they also shouldn’t have to fight for it.”
A number of Hollywood pay gap disputes have recently taken center stage — including the revelation that Claire Foy, the Emmy-nominated star of Netflix’s “The Crown,” made less money than her male co-star Matt Smith. Former E! host Catt Sadler, meanwhile, left the network in December after discovering her male co-host had allegedly made almost double her salary.
Prompted by the interviewer, the HBO exec also clarified that these changes didn’t necessarily mean “all men and women will categorically make the exact same.” Parity becomes more of an issue in a show’s second or third season, he said.
“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,” Bloys said. “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.”
“Big Little Lies” producer-stars Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, THR reported in January, scored a hefty pay bump to $1 million per episode on the show’s second season scheduled to air next year. The duo, who had been making a reported $250,000 to $350,000 an episode during season one, allegedly leveraged Witherspoon’s recent $1.25-million-an-episode deal with Apple to score their increase.