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FROM THIS EPISODE

Big Money

This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.

Let me ask you a question: if someone gave you, say, $50 million today, would you think that's a lot of money? I'm not ashamed to say that I myself, me personally, would.

But yesterday I was lunching in a local establishment, and I overheard two guys in t-shirts talking about a recent big-screen release.

"Yeah, you know, it kinda bombed, man," one of them said. "I mean, it only made, like, $50 million."

The other dude nodded sadly. "Fifty million!" he scoffed. "That guy's career is, like, dead."

"Hate to be him," said the other one.

"Guys," I said. "Can I get my turkey sub?"

And they both went back to work assembling and toasting my turkey sub, giving them a brief pause in their day of showering pity and scorn on the director whose movie only took in $50 million, and the star with the career trouble.

And it struck me that this kind of thing happens a lot -- people scoffing at what are actually large sums of money just because they're not huge sums of money. People calling something a failure just because the sky didn't open up and rain lucre on everyone involved in the show or the movie.

"Personally," an agent's assistant said to me once, when, instead of putting me on hold he engaged me in a brief conversation about the opening night ratings for a new TV show, "Personally, I wouldn't be happy with those numbers."

You wouldn't be happy with those numbers? I said. Are you kidding me? I said. Let me tell you something, you smug know-nothing punk, I said, If tomorrow morning you woke up the show-runner of that show with the so-so numbers and not the terrified assistant to a schizo-tipal agent boss, you'd be thrilled with those numbers, okay? Okay? I said.

I mean, you know, to myself. I said that to myself. I mean, I don't need any more enemies, and who knows where that guy will end up? With his total lack of understanding of the economics of the business and his idiotic sense of self-importance he'll probably end up in comedy development at a big network.

And then recently I was in a meeting with a couple of writers and a couple of studio executives. We're putting together a hilarious, edgy animated comedy, and when the possibility of getting it on a certain high-profile cable network came up, one of the writers shook his head. "I dunno guys," he said, "I hear the fees that they pay are awfully low."

And then I did say it. I said that if we were so lucky as to have a spot on that network, we'd be either deliriously happy or totally stupid. Which is it? I asked him, because, wel, he was a fellow writer and there's never any reason to be polite to a writer.

That's it for this week. Next week, we'll spit out some tepid water. For KCRW, this is Rob Long with Martini Shot.

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