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Slicing Down the Artistic 'Fat'

September 21, 1986

James Flanigan, writing on Laurence Tisch and CBS ("Tisch May Be Good for What Is Ailing CBS," Sept. 12), reports on "the first and most obvious opportunities to cut costs and restore profitability." Reformers, he says, won't have to search far for the fat.

Flanigan cites a report in Forbes magazine, which pointed out that "a TV episode costing $150,000 with union crews could be shot by non-union crews for $89,000." That's a saving of 41%! Wow.

But before Flanigan stops applauding Forbes' sensational discovery, let me show him that they may not be going far enough. After all, better than a 41% saving is a 61% saving. N'est-ce pas ?

Well, that which a non-union crew can do for $89,000 an out-of-town non-union crew will willingly do for $58,500. You may not get that formerly out-of-town crew to do it a second time for that price, because with a little experience under its belt, the price is likely to go up.

But no matter. Where you find one out-of-town non-union crew, you find another. You're not likely to run out. So, see, I've saved CBS 61%--20% more than the esteemed Forbes.

But wait! I can do even better than that! That which an out-of-town non-union crew has done for $58,500 can be done for $44,500, another 16% savings. By whom can this be done? Well, by students. Check out the film schools and universities: The woods are full of aspiring film makers in all categories, and, if they're anything like I was when starting out, they'll work for next to nothing for a shot at something that'll be seen on network TV.

Well, so now I've saved the new CBS management a total of $105,500, or a cool 70%--on each production. Credit where credit is due, though. I wouldn't have thought of it if Forbes and Flanigan hadn't brought it up first. Come to think of it, why hasn't someone brought it up before? It's such an obvious and well-thought-out solution to a network's diminishing profits.

JULES BRENNER

Hollywood

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