Tuesday, October 9, 2018

"Semi-Annual Report"

Has it been six months already?

I don’t mean between dental checkups, which anyway, being a championship “Plaque-Master”, I cycle around every four months.  (It’s kind of cool, knowing the writer’s plaque production proclivities, isn’t it?)  (Plus, the added experience of a three-word alliteration.)

This is entirely something different.  

Semi-annually, like clockwork, arriving in an oversized white envelope, stamped with the official ICM imprimatur– ICM being the talent agency handling the administrative duties – I receive the latest “Statement of Accounting”, indicating how soon I will be receiving my contracted share of the profits from Major Dad, a show I developed, and was, therefore, allotted a cut.

“Modified Gross”, they call my financial arrangement, also called, “Rolling Gross”, because it keeps rolling away from its expectant recipient.

The semi-annual report has been prepared, the “cover letter” informs me, by Glen Svalstedt, (Executive Director, Financial Contract Reporting – Television), as it has been for as long as I can recall receiving them.  

I have never personally met Glen Svalstedt, though I did once converse with him on the phone, two or so years ago.  I was happy to hear from him.  Previously, we had only connected via semi-annual reports.  

Since the chance of seeing any financial “daylight” from Major Dad appeared minimal, Glen Svalstedt wondered if it was okay if he stopped providing me the semi-annual reports.

My instant response to him was “No.”  Adding, without irony, though he may have detected some,

“I actually look forward to their arrival.”

So Glen Svalstedt keeps sending me the  semi-annual reports.  The latest of which was delivered just yesterday.  

Extracting the document, my eyes flew directly to the report’s summarizing “Bottom Line”, revealing all I really wanted to know:  

Is the show angling towards profitability?  Or were my chances of recoupment floating ever more hopelessly into the distance?

Hot off the presses, here’s what the semi-annual report reported:

Major Dad remains 3,916,685 dollars away from profitability.  


Six months ago, the show, it was comparatively noted, was 3,990,605dollars away from profitability.

Do you see what that means?

It means I am… wait, I’ll go get my calculator…………………………..…………..

Okay, I’m back.

It means I am, let’s see, now…. “Three million nine-nine-oh, six-oh-five” minus “Three million nine-one-six, six-eighty-five”… oh my God!

I am seventy-three thousand, nine hundred and twenty dollars closer to eventual pay dirt!

“Ballpark” calculation, the semi-annual profits had jumped… okay, seven hundred and thirtythousand times ten would be seven million three hundredthousand, divided by two, to approximate the “nut” yet to be cracked… I think it’s, like, two percent!

Meaning, if the current rate of improvement remains steady, in something like, forty-eight “semi-annuals”, I should begin seeing some serious money.

Though my calculations may not be accurate.  (And I may possibly be dead.)

The report is not easy to follow.  It’s like they are smothering you in numbers, hoping you’ll give up monitoring the tally and tell Glen Svalstedt, “No mas.” 

Two words, Glen:  Fat chance.

Though the auditing process is (deliberately?) not easy.

Scrupulously studying the statistics, I have to use a ruler to make sure I don’t accidentally drop down to a lower line across the page, ending up confusing “Gross Receipts” with “Foreign Taxes and Exchange.”  

It is also hard to tell whether the reported residuals are the total amount over the show’s three decades of syndication or accumulations from the current period alone.  It’s probably “Total.”  It’s hard to believe Major Dad took in three hundred and twelve thousand dollars in Luxembourg in the past six months. Although who knows?  Maybe they just really like the show. 

One troubling statistic I did notice.  Under “Distribution Expenses” – “Advertising and Publicity”? – $0.

That could be the difficulty right there.  How do expect to make a profit with zero advertising and promotion?  I mean, geez.  It’s like they don’t wantto get into the “black.”

(And be required to pay off.)

Hey, at least we are headed in the right direction.   Mr. Glen Svalstedt might find the exercise borderline futile.  (Not to mention an administrative pain in the butt.) Me?  I can’t wait for the next semi-annual report.

The deal may never work out.

But at least I get mail.

(And a reliable post idea every six months.)
As of this writing, we are headed for Rancho La Puerta, this fitness place we go to in Mexico, where I do not attend any classes.  I may write there, I may not.  In any case,  have left enough material to get you through.

The last time I was there, my invisible Mariachi band sang me a song, assuring me my precariously soon-to-be-born granddaughter would be okay.  (And she was.)

That's one reason I go back.

Maybe the best reason.

I shall see you when I get back.  Although, in the current political climate, foreign-born people can have a tough time re-entering from Mexico.

1 comment:

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Doesn't the writer's guild periodically pick a studio or whatever to audit? Authors' societies do, and authors can request a particular one if they think they're not getting what they deserve. These audits often wind up producing payments for the authors. Seems like this would be a good candidate.