The legislature is stepping into the snakepit entertainment industry

in summary

The legislature is wasting its time dealing with quarrels between factions in the entertainment industry.

The history of Bill 983 and Bill 437 begins with two indisputable facts:

– The business of the entertainment industry in Southern California is a snake of extremely complex financial transactions, contracts and very creative accounting, which lies behind the facade of brilliance and artistic pretensions.

“Although the industry is only a small part of California’s $ 3.5 trillion economy, its glamorous image has caught the attention of government politicians.”

These two facts mean that governors and lawmakers are willing to bid on industry figures with a special subsidy for film production from taxpayers in California, just one of many examples.

Sometimes internal disputes in the industry – mostly over how to share revenue from movie tickets, record sales and other products – come to the Capitol for resolution.

One of the longer conflicts is over California law, section 2855 of the Labor Code, which prohibits personal service contracts from being performed for more than seven years. In theory, he encourages music and film executives to invest in the development of new talent, ensuring that they get a return on their investment for at least seven years, while banning long-term contracts that would keep actors, singers and other artists in bondage. .

Over the years, there have been several attempts to change the seven-year period from those that would benefit financially, sometimes to extend the term of the contract, sometimes to weaken it, but none have succeeded. However, the current session of the legislature sees new efforts to change the law, using the time-honored practice of “gutting and repairing”.

This is a way to introduce new legislation beyond the usual committee hearings and voting. A bill that has already been passed by one chamber is deprived of its content (gutted) and the new bill is inserted as an amendment, thus skipping the regular processes.

In February, Assembly member Ash Calra, a Democrat from San Jose, unveiled Bill 2926, which would essentially give musicians and actors a way to escape their seven-year contracts and / or work for others while on contract.

Learn more about the legislators mentioned in this story

State Assembly, District 27 (San Jose)

State Assembly, District 27 (San Jose)

How to vote 2019-2020


Area 27 Demography

Race / Ethnicity









Lots of competition


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No party


Something else


Contribution to the campaign

Asm. Ash Calra took at least
$ 1.4 million
from Labor
sector since he was elected MP. This represents
of his overall contribution to the campaign.

The legislation was backed by unions in the entertainment industry and some established artists, and reflected similar legislation that has failed in the past.

The bill met with strong opposition from film and film industry leaders, who said it would destroy a mutually beneficial system, and stopped. Calra then divided it into two amending bills, one for the film industry (Assembly Bill 437) and one for the recording industry (AB 983), both of which are now awaiting action in the Senate Labor Committee.

AB 983 is particularly interesting because, if enacted, it will obviously help Irving Azoff, perhaps the most famous figure in the record industry, to release a new record label, Giant Music. According to media in the entertainment industry, this would make it easier for Giant Music to hire musicians from the top drawer, who are now under contract with other record companies. Ironically, when such a bill was proposed 35 years ago, Azof, the then head of the MCA’s entertainment colossus, strongly opposed it, saying it would ruin the industry.

There are no good and bad boys here. The legislature is being asked to engage in conflict between competing elements of the entertainment industry by tilting the legal field.

Lawyers who specialize in snake pit navigation could maximize their paid hours, but there is nothing in any bill that benefits the general public.

The legislature must stop wasting its time on this issue and pay more attention to issues that really matter, such as the emerging shortage of water, housing and electricity.

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