I was watching it last night and saw a promo for the new movie on Friday.
In it, I could have sworn I saw a scene where Galleria (Raven) was hugging the other girls (meaning she at least does a cameo in the flick). Galleria is now in college at Cambridge (explaining her absence from the movie), but she has a whole web setup on the Disney Channel's Cheetah Girls' website. (Did anyone else see that?)
Don't think I'm not watching Cheetah Girls 2 tonight (!)
(But I'm still pissed that Deborah Gregory didn't get paid the way she should have for that franchise! I read her story (in her own words) in Jet magazine several months ago. Grrrr!)
***Jacked from Jet Magazine***
No big payday for originator of 'Cheetah Girls'
Margena A. Christian
January 28, 2008
Deborah Gregory still recalls the haunting in Olivia Goldsmith's voice in 1999 when the late author of The First Wives Club told her that she "didn't get paid." Gregory, author of the popular The Cheetah Girls book series, didn't have a clue what Goldsmith was talking about.
Fast forward to 2003, when The Cheetah Girls was made into a Disney channel TV movie, capturing 6.5 million viewers. The movie's sequel topped the first, becoming the most-watched original movie in the Disney Channel's history, according to Disney.
The characters' popularity helped them to become a brand with massive merchandising, including soundtracks, DVDs, video games and sold-out concerts that raked in big bucks.
Gregory, however, now knows what Goldsmith meant, because she's singing the same tune.
"I haven't been paid one cent," Gregory claims. "It's called 'net profit participation.' It never pays a cent."
Gregory isn't the only author to find out the hard way about Hollywood accounting, which reduces the reported profit of a movie through the calculation of overhead expenses, employee salaries and advertising costs.
Net profit is defined as an amount of money earned after all expenses have been deducted from the total revenue. There is a saying in Hollywood that "a percentage of the net is a percentage of nothing."
It's so unclear, Gregory said. "The definition is basically that you aren't going to get paid. It's incredibly cruel to the creator. Intellectual property is valuable. In Hollywood they buy your property because they want to own it instead of licensing. If you want to own, you should be paying an ownership price."
Gregory claims that she's received only $125,000 from the Disney Channel for the two and a half year option, producer fees and purchase price for two movies.
"They have the rights to all 16 of my Cheetah Girls books until perpetuity," she claims. "They will only take your dramatic rights," she says about the rights to do the movie, "if you give them all the other rights, the ancillary rights-merchandising, soundtracks, amusement parks-any revenue-producing stream. Aside from books, you are supposed to get net profit. I've never seen a penny, but everything keeps growing and growing and growing ... When you think of the life of these projects, they make studios a fortune. If we didn't need the studio, writers would be amongst the wealthiest people in the world."
No one at the Disney Channel could be reached for comment by JET press time.
To avoid net profit, many authors insist on gross points, which is a percentage of some definition of gross revenue.
Alice Walker was one such person, yet the Pulitzer Prize-winning author never received a dime in payment from her 3 percent of the gross (at break-even point) for the film The Color Purple nearly two years after it was released. She took legal action, but was only "able to get a portion of the monies I considered due to me," she wrote in her 1996 memoir, The Same River Twice.
Walker said in the book: "Everyone who has ever gone after 'net' or 'gross' in Hollywood has encountered this 'Big Man,' who, in corporate terms, is the power of the conglomerate, the corporation, to which the 'natural laws' of goodwill, sincerity and honor are sacrificed."
Hollywood isn't freely giving all authors gross points either, Gregory said.
"It's take the net profit or no deal," she said. "Alice Walker was a famous author ... I had an agent and an attorney. No one is going to tell you anything. They've been dealing with this Goliath so long that they are used to it. They are going to bat with their big clients."
Spider Man writer Stan Lee filed a lawsuit in 2005 against Marvel for his unpaid share of profits from Marvel movies based on the character. Lee reportedly won more than $10 million.
"It's this constant top dog, underdog thing in business. It's not as personal as you think," Gregory said.
Gregory said that authors don't have a real union like screenwriters do. She said they have The Authors Guild, which does not operate like a real union, by requiring membership and providing benefits and mandatory business practices. So studios are not accountable to the authors, she said, although 40 percent of all movies and TV projects have the underlying source material from books.
"I've never received a net profit statement" of how much the studios made from The Cheetah Girls, Gregory claims.
"Recently, I've been trying to obtain one from the studio (Disney)," said Gregory. "It's not like we factor in a minor way, but a big way."
On June 24 she will release a new book, Catwalk (Delacorte Press, $8.99). It deals with high school fashionistas who compete in runway modeling contests.
"The book industry is run like a real business. Business is about incentive," she said. "If I have a book, I can be a nobody. But if I get to that base and hit a home run, the more books I sell, the more book money I will get in royalties. The net profit thing never pays off."
As a Black artist, Gregory said she is grateful to have her vision out there.
"I don't like to see people hurt. Nobody talked about it and that's why I'm in this position," she said. "I grew up in foster care. Who I am in this world is about teaching and it's about sharing. I hate to see people get hurt. I've been victimized my whole life. I'm going to risk it a little just to tell the truth. I don't have to be hostile. I can tell the truth. That's how you survive, by telling the truth."
HOLLYWOOD PAY TIPS
Deborah Gregory provides a few suggestions on how authors can protect themselves from "net profit participation":
* "Get as much money as you can up front for your movie rights."
* "Consider writing the screenplay or TV teleplay so that you can get into the Writer's Guild. That will provide you DVD residuals."
* "Have bonus clauses included. As merchandise is made, for example, that will ensure that a bonus kicks in."
By Margena A. Christian
COPYRIGHT 2008 Johnson Publishing Co.
COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning