TV writers, producers, executives, and assistants have been anonymously sharing their salaries in a widely-circulated Google spreadsheet. The move is part of an effort to help people working in the entertainment industry achieve pay parity.
The spreadsheet is broken down by type of job (staff writer versus assistant versus executive). It has columns for position or title, studio, network and amount of experience. It includes a column about whether a person identifies as a man or a woman, or a person of colour. No specific TV series are mentioned, though some entries note if a show is scripted or unscripted.
There is a huge range of salaries in the spreadsheet, which has more than 100 entries on the “staff writers” page alone. However, there seems to be at least some disparity in pay.
For example, a woman of colour who is a co-producer on a CBS show says she makes $10,000 [£7,104] per episode. In comparison, a white woman who is a co-producer on a CBS show says she makes $14,000 [£9,946] per episode. Meanwhile, a white male co-producer at CBS makes $16,000 [£11,367] per episode. Still, because there’s no mention of which shows they work for, it’s difficult to make exact comparisons.
The spreadsheet comes in response to a long-running discussion about the gender pay gap in Hollywood. When Gillian Anderson returned for new episodes of the X-Files in 2016, she reported that she had initially been offered only half the pay of her co-star, David Duchovny.
Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo is now the highest-earning TV actor. She told THR that she struggled for years to make as much as her co-star Patrick Dempsey.
“A guy wouldn’t have any problem asking for $600,000 [£425, 994] an episode,” she said. “And as women, we’re like, ‘Oh, can I ask for that? Is that OK?’”