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Hollywood Mystery

April 19, 1987

It's difficult to believe that John Kent really doesn't know why new talent isn't given a chance in Hollywood, while the old guard keeps turning out bad films (Calendar Letters, April 12).

My explanation: Few jobs are as insecure as that of a film studio executive. The salaries are outrageously high, and everybody in town is after the small number of positions. A lot of people who don't even like film want to be executives for the money and glamour and prestige. Power struggles are constantly waged and those seeking positions will do anything to unseat their rivals.

Whenever a top executive leaves, there are massive firings and replacements of everyone underneath. The new regime wants people who will have a personal sense of gratitude and loyalty to those who gave them their jobs.

Personal loyalty and friendship are vital to Hollywood. If I hire you now, you may save my job for me some day in the future. You never know who your next boss will be.

This insecurity makes people want to play it safe. If you spend $30 million on a film by an unknown, and it flops, you'll be through. If you spend $30 million on a film by someone who's made a lot of other $30-million failures, at least you're not the only one who has made the mistake, so you may not be blamed. (Besides, the guy who made the failure may be your boss some day, and now he owes you.)

Finally, quality doesn't matter anymore. It used to matter. Good films used to make at least a decent amount of money, and the really bad pictures went down the tubes. But if "The Golden Child" can be one of the most successful pictures of 1986, then it is clear quality doesn't matter at all.

And if it doesn't matter how good a picture is anyway, you might as well hire your friends.


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