Here’s the Open Letter:
Dear “Variety” and “The Hollywood Reporter” and Their Respective Reporters Michael Schneider and Nellie Andreeva,
First of all, I would like to thank you both for your coverage of the “Futurama” recasting. Both publications were among the first on the Internet to break the news to the public. I also appreciate your follow-up coverage on Saturday, July 31st, when it was announced and confirmed that all five of the show’s principal cast members had closed deals with 20th Century Fox. However, both of your original articles (first published July 17, 2009) contained assumptions, inaccuracies and exaggerations of the salaries the “Futurama” voice cast members were actually requesting. This projected an unfair and negative image on the “Futurama” actors.
Furthermore, both publications (Variety and The Hollywood Reporter) have since edited the original articles to downplay prior misstatements, without offering any printed retraction for the reporters’ errors.
The original version of Variety reporter Michael Schneider’s article (first published Friday, July 17, 2009, 12:34 pm PT — Link: ‘Futurama’ without original voices?) read thusly:
It’s believed that the “Futurama” cast members were asking for around $75,000 per episode; it was not clear what 20th was offering. Calls to the voice stars’ reps were not immediately returned.
The statement was afterwards edited to read:
“…salary offers came in well below what the thesps were asking — believed to be around $75,000 per episode. (It was not clear what 20th was offering. Calls to the voice stars’ reps were not immediately returned.)” [Emphasis mine.]
This statement was publicly proven false by “Futurama” supporting cast member Phil LaMarr (via his official page on Facebook.com):
“Apparently Fox has decided to just make up numbers. The $75,000 figure they cite is not even close to what the cast is asking for.”
Within the same hour Variety’s article was published, The Hollywood Reporter’s Nellie Andreeva originally made the following statement in her article (first published Friday, July 17, 2009, 3:11 pm ET — Link: ‘Futurama’ cast in limbo):
20th declined further comment but sources indicated that the voice actors had been seeking at least a tenfold increase of what they made when the animated series ran on Fox from 1999-2003. [Emphasis mine.]
And as was the case with Variety, THR’s article was also edited after it was published. It currently reads:
The cast of “Futurama,” which ran on Fox from 1999-2002, are said to have been offered modest pay increases but have insisted for bumps of several times what they used to make. [Emphasis mine.]
THR’s follow-up article (published Friday, July 31, 2009, 6:40 pm ET — Link: Back to Futurama: Voice cast closes deal), also written by reporter Nellie Andreeva, includes the following statement:
Financial terms of the agreements were not released but it is understood that both sides have made compromises to bridge the initial salary gap, in which the actors were said to have asked for several times what the studio was offering. [Emphasis mine.]
Andreeva went from saying a “tenfold increase” to “several times,” which appears as an attempt to remove blame for her earlier misstatement.
Besides the aforementioned rebuttal by Phil LaMarr, other sources close to the cast also confirmed that initial statements concerning the cast published by both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter were not true.
In the most recent article from Variety (published Friday, July 31, 2009, 3:26 pm PT — Link: ‘Futurama’ cast returning for reboot), also reported by Michael Schneider, the assumption made in the previous article has been downplayed, but does at least correct the prior error:
It was believed that the “Futurama” cast were asking for around $75,000 per episode, although the actors have said their request was actually much lower than that. It was not clear what 20th was offering.
And while Schneider did state in his original article that “calls to the voice stars’ reps were not immediately returned,” that does not excuse his misrepresentation of the cast by publishing an unconfirmed and exaggerated amount.
Now, if the figures of “$75,000 per episode” and a “tenfold increase” were what both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter were told by 20th Century Fox representatives, that makes this an entirely different matter. If that’s the case, 20th Century Fox should have been cited as the source, rather than reporting it vaguely that it was “believed” or “was said” to be what the cast was asking for. That would’ve removed both publications from fault.
But the fact remains that both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter are responsible for publishing statements which have since been proven to be false, inaccurate and unfair assumptions. Furthermore, both reporters have attempted to gloss over the aforementioned errors by covertly having the articles edited.
And most importantly, both publications misrepresented the cast and portrayed a very negative image of them to the public by implying that the actors were asking far and above what the studio was offering, when in reality that was simply not true. It’s also obvious from the feedback comments on both Variety.com and HollywoodReporter.com that the statements made regarding the salaries were indeed misleading to the public.
Both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter owe their readers — as well as “Futurama” fans and the cast of “Futurama” — a public retraction for the published errors, rather than trying to quietly augment previous statements.
It was unfair and unnecessary to misrepresent the cast in such a way, and unprofessional to change your prior articles without issuing a retraction.
I would like to request that both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter issue a public retraction for inaccurate and misleading statements about the cast. And while it would likely be ignored to request a public apology to the cast for making them look bad, I feel it’s a fair request that would be most appreciated.
Publisher: Voice Actors in the News
Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke - tip her here.