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FROM THIS EPISODE

Hard Floor

This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.

I live in Venice. I guess, these days, I should be a little more protective of my privacy. Maybe I shouldn't be broadcasting where I live, although after a year of doing these commentaries, it's impossible to imagine there's someone out there thinking, &quotI; wonder where he lives? I'd sure like to get to know him better."

Anyway, along Lincoln Boulevard, there's like a dozen used car lots. And most of them have huge banners flapping out front, that say something like, &quotNo; Credit? Bad Credit? Okay! We Finance Anyone!" And somewhere on those banners there's a tiny asterisk, or a small-type parenthetical, and three tiny letters. &quotO.A.C.;"

What could those letters stand for? I'd drive up and down Lincoln, and it would drive me crazy. &quotNo; Credit? Bad Credit? Okay! We Finance Anyone!" And then, in small type: &quotOAC.;"

OAC? So, you know what I had to do, right? One day, I pulled into one of those lots. And I asked. Do you know what O.A.C. stands for? It stands for &quotOn; Approved Credit." So, basically, those banners said: &quotNo; Credit? Bad Credit? Okay! We Finance Anyone! On Approved Credit."

So I said to the guy, What's the point of that? If your credit can be approved, then...I mean, why would make such a big deal.... About the ease of...you know? It's a tautology. And it bugs me. But the guy at the used car lot wasn't persuaded.

Now, I told you that so I could tell you this. When you have a contract with a studio, along with stuff like where you can park and how much they're going to pay you, the contract also enumerates how much of the profit -- the back end -- you're going to get. They don't specify an exact percentage, of course. They specify a range. &quotYou; could get as much as X percent," the contract says. &quotOr; as little as Y percent." Somewhere in that general range. -Y Percent' is known as the &quothard; floor." That's as low as it's ever going to get, according to the promises of the studio lawyers. What happens is, when you start a project, you start with X percent of the back end, but as you add directors, and a star or two, you start giving percentage points away, and you get awfully close to the hard floor.

A while ago, negotiating a deal with a studio, they wanted us to contribute to an existing project. Now, we had an agreement with that studio, and in that agreement, we had agreed to a hard floor. So when they wanted us to go lower that the hard floor on the existing project, it was time to redefine words like &quothard;" and &quotfloor.;"

&quotNot; much of a hard floor, is it?" I said to my agent.

&quotWhat; are you talking about? It's a hard floor. No one's asking you to go below your hard floor."

&quotWell;, they are now."

&quotThey; are now, yes. In this specific instance."

-But, if it's a hard floor, and I go below it now, what's to stop them from asking me to do it again?"

-They wouldn't do that. It's a hard floor. You never go below the hard floor."

&quotExcept; in this instance."

&quotExcept; in this instance, yes."

&quotSo; it's still a hard floor."

&quotVery; much so."

&quotWith; a trap door somewhere, leading to a small crawlspace, where my new percentage is."

&quotYou;'re fixating. It's a hard floor. It's in the contract. On this specific project, you're agreeing to go below the floor..."

&quotTo; the dirt."

&quotTo; the...why are you so negative? Look, your hard floor is your hard floor."

&quotThey; can't ask me to go below it on another project, can they?"

&quotWell;, they can ask."

&quotBut; I'd say no, right?"

&quotWellll........;"

And then it hit me. Whenever anyone makes any kind of declaration -- this is your hard floor! We finance anyone! I'll love you forever! -- you should always hear a small voice say quietly, &quotOn; Approved Credit."

That's it for this week. Next week, we'll steal from real life.

For KCRW, this is Rob Long with Martini Shot.

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