Summer 2006

Movie Money: Understanding Hollywood (Creative) Accounting Practices,
Second Edition
(Silman-James Press, 297 pages, $22.95)
By Bill Daniels, David Leedy and Steven D. Sills

Joseph L. Maniewicz Interviews Book CoverIf, as the saying goes, knowledge is power, then every above-the-line player in Hollywood looking to gain the upper hand in dealmaking ought to dip into this book. Not that the book’s contents–like the studio accounting practices it depicts–will be fully understandable to anyone who’s not a CPA. But even a little knowledge can be empowering. Here you will learn the subtle differences between gross after cash breakeven, post-actual breakeven gross and post-rolling ABE gross. Whoa... who knew? (As for net participation, what Eddie Murphy once chidingly called ‘monkey points’ because only a monkey would want them, there’s no sense even worrying about it.) The book is written by a trio of finance specialists who have spent their careers wading through the morass of industry accounting–Bill Daniels (a lawyer who represents creative talent), David Leedy (a former studio controller and CPA/consultant for creative talent) and Steven D. Sills (an attorney and CPA who specializes in profit participation audits). How many money guys does it take to screw in a light bulb and shine it on the Byzantine formulas by which artists get paid in this town? In this case, three. Even if you failed freshman math and go bleary-eyed at the sight of a profit participation statement, some of the facts and definitions will sink in and you’ll be able to run more effective interference for yourself on the negotiation playing field. However, if you prefer to let your agent and business manager carry the ball for you 100 percent of the way, don’t bother. For some, ignorance indeed can be bliss.

Review written by Gloria Norris.


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