Barry Diller, chairman and senior executive of IAC and Expedia Group and former Hollywood studio chief, says that top executives and the highest-paid stars should take a 25 percent pay cut to narrow the gap between their salaries and those of the folks at the lower end of the pay scale.
“There’s no trust,” he said in an interview that aired Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation. “You have the actors union saying, ‘How dare these 10 people who run these companies earn all this money and won’t pay us?’ While, if you look at it on the other side, the top 10 actors get paid more than the top 10 executives. I’m not saying either is right. Actually, everybody’s probably overpaid at the top end.”
His solution? “The one idea I had is to say, as a good-faith measure, both the executives and the most-paid actors should take a 25 percent pay cut to try and narrow, narrow the difference between those who get highly paid and those that don’t.”
Diller also argued that both the writers and actors strikes should be settled by Sept. 1 to avoid “devastating effects.” The Writers Guild of America has been striking since May 2 and SAG-AFTRA went on strike Friday after each guild’s respective negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers fell apart.
“What will happen is, if in fact, it doesn’t get settled until Christmas or so, then, next year, there’s not going to be many programs for anybody to watch,” Diller predicted. “So, you’re going to see subscriptions get pulled, which is going to reduce the revenue of all these movie companies, television companies, the result of which is that there will be no programs. And at just the time, strike is settled, that you want to get back up, there won’t be enough money. So this actually will have devastating effects, if it is not settled soon.”
He continued: “The truth is, this [Hollywood] is a huge business both domestically and for world export. … These conditions will potentially produce an absolute collapse of an entire industry.”
Diller went on to discuss the topic of AI, which was one of the sticking points for both guilds and the studios in their since-stalled negotiations. Diller thinks that fears of AI taking over are unfounded, saying that it’s being “overly hyped.” He doesn’t see a reality in which AI replaces actors or writers.
“Yes, you can ingest all this stuff and spit out something that sounds like Shakespeare, but guess what? It is not original Shakespeare,” he argued. “And writers will get assisted, not replaced. Most of these actual performing crafts, I don’t think are in danger of artificial intelligence.”
Meanwhile, Diller also doubled down on comments he made in April when he argued that publishers should sue over generative AI. He said he and a group of “leading publishers” — he declined to specify who — are planning to sue to stop AI from scraping and using data without paying and to protect copyrighted material. He did not give a timeline of when a lawsuit would be filed.
“It’s not antagonistic,” he said of the potential litigation. “It’s to stake a firm place in the ground to say that ‘you cannot ingest our material without figuring out a business model for the future.’ “
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