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All Sides Must Move on Film Industry Excesses

March 29, 1998

The article on Jack Valenti's ShoWest speech ["High Costs Could Torpedo Films, Valenti Warns," March 11] about runaway costs was quite interesting.

Mr. Valenti warned about escalating movie costs spiraling out of control and stressed that to "curb costs, studio chiefs must figure out a way to rein in creative talent."

It should be added that people on both sides of the coin here are escalating costs. Yes, there have been excessive salaries on movie sets, but witness the disaster at Sony a few years back and at other studios where management leaders went financially wild on themselves, their offices and their cohorts, resulting in incredible spending sprees far beyond the movie "Titanic's" budget.

The reaction has been to try to make cuts at the minimum level instead of the extremes. Asking for 50% cuts in minimum payments for actors (as management is now asking the Screen Actors Guild) is like a professional sports team deciding their star players are costing too much and demanding that all nonstarting players take a 50% pay cut to make up for it.

Escalating costs are a major problem, but all sides must agree to solve the problem and rein in their own people in each field and not just point fingers across the divide or gleefully decide, "Who cares? It's not our money anyway."

CHRIS CHABOT

Los Angeles

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