I got a call yesterday from a little film company down here in the Valley and they’re doing the packaging for MGM — not MGM, for Warner Bros. — for Babylon 5, which I worked on. I did a very long, very interesting on-camera interview about the making of Babylon 5, early on when Joe Straczynski hired me, and they want to use it. A young woman calls me and says, “well, we’d like to use it on the DVD, can that be arranged?”
I said, “absolutely, all you gotta do is pay me.”
And she says, “what?”
I said, “You gotta pay me.”
She said, “Well, everybody else is doing it for nothing.”
I said, “Everybody else may be an asshole, but I’m not. By what right would you call me and ask me to work for nothing? Do you get a paycheck?”
I said, “does your boss get a paycheck? Do you pay the Telecity guy? Do you pay the cameraman? Do you pay the cutters? Do you pay the teamsters when the schlep you stuff on the trucks? Would you go to a gas station and ask to be given free gas? Would you go to the doctor and have him take out your spleen for nothing? How dare you call me and want me to work for nothing?”
“Well, it would be good publicity.”
I said, “lady, tell that to someone a little older than you who has just fallen off the turnip truck. There is no publicity value in my essay, my interview, being on your DVD. If you sell 2,000 it’ll be great and what are people gonna say? ‘Ooh, I really like the way that guy gave that interview. I wonder if he’s ever written a book. Let me go and buy it.’ There is no publicity value. The only value for me is if you put money in my hand. Cross my palm with silver and you can use my essay — you can use my interview.”
She says, “well, all right, thank you.” And she hangs up. I’ll never hear from them. They want everything for nothing. They wouldn’t go for five seconds without being paid and they’ll bitch about how much they’re paid and want more. I should do a freebie for Warner Bros.? What is Warner Bros., out with an eye patch and tin cup on the street? Fuck no!
They always want the writer to work for nothing. And the problem is that there are so goddamn many writers who have no idea they’re supposed to be paid every time they do something. They do it for nothing! Guh guh! They’re gonna look at me, I’m going to be noticed, huh huh, huh huh! You tell me — are they any less the media whore than I? I think not. Nobody’s asked them to buy their soul. I sell my soul, but at the highesst rates. The highest rates. Idon’t take a piss without getting paid for it.
I get so angry about this because you’re undercut by all the amateurs. It’s the amateurs who make it tough for the professionals because when you act professional, these people are so used to getting it for nothing, and for mooching, and for being able to pass off this bullshit — I mean, they don’t even send you a copy of the DVD! You know, you have to call them, “where’s the DVD?” “Well, it’s been out for six months, you can go to the store and buy it…”
You can go to the store and buy it, motherfucker! You go to the store and buy it! You send me the goddamn DVD now or I’m going to come down to your house and I’m going to burn it to the ground, how about that? “Well, you don’t have to get mean about it!” Yeah, I do have to get mean about it, it’s six months since the goddamn thing came out.