The chief executive of American Broadcasting Cos. Inc. today blasted soaring movie budgets and urged Hollywood executives to cut costs and work on new technological developments or face a broad loss of support from investors and consumers.
Addressing the Hollywood Radio and Television Society, ABC Chairman Leonard Goldenson said the "pool of investors" for movies and television programming "will dry up" unless Hollywood quickly reduces technical expenses and large movie- star contracts.
"There is so much technological innovation taking place in entertainment and communications, I cannot understand why Hollywood--and I include our own people in this--is not aggressively exploring ways to improve production efficiency and reduce production cost," he said.
For example, Goldenson urged producers of both motion pictures and television shows to use more tape and less film in their work. He noted that the cost of producing a half-hour, prime-time comedy falls by about $50,000 an episode when tape and not film is used. Over a year, that works out to about $50 million for ABC alone, Goldenson said.
With a slap at Hollywood writers and actors, he also warned that "no amount of technical innovation will bring costs into line for long unless something is done about the incredibly rapid rate at which creative and performing talent costs are rising.
"In television, the most visible symptom is the endless parade of performing talent seeking--and often getting--renegotiation of their existing contracts," he said.
Goldenson also cited as an "equally worrisome symptom" the "enormous upfront payments of guarantees demanded" by performers and writers. "In each case, the producer or broadcaster can only be left wondering if any audience will be large enough to justify the expense," he said.
Calling the fees demanded by stars "outlandish," Goldenson said actors and writers ought to take the same risks as investors by working for a percentage of profits with only minimum guarantees.