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Dan Harmon Apologizes & The Black Swan Interns Win

If you’re not a fan of Community, you may not have heard about the whole Dan Harmon saga. Basically, he created a funny show, then got fired being kind of a jerk, and the show went on without him. The season was generally reviled, but Community is still coming back next fall, somehow.

NBC decided to hire Harmon back again. I don’t know what their reasoning is, and I don’t care; I’m just glad the show will be funny again. Harmon did his homework and watched the season of the show he created but was run by someone else. And he did not like it:

Man, watching those characters without me there is just not fuckin’ cool, man. It’s like flipping through Instagrams and watching your girlfriend just blow a million [other guys].

He goes on and on, and it’s very harsh,1 which is not something you usually see in Hollywood. It was really unfair to people who were, after all, just doing their jobs as best they could.

Well, this morning, Harmon realized he was wrong to criticize his own writers, cast, and crew so publicly, and wrote a lengthy blog post apologizing for his behavior. It’s quite a good piece, and made me admire him even more than I already do. (Except the part where he lumps the cast and crew together as “not getting paid enough;” if there’s anyone in the world who gets paid “enough,” it’s television actors.)

I’ve worked on a lot of shitty shows,2 and if the showrunner announced publicly that those shows sucked, I would’ve said, “Well, yeah. Duh.” But I appreciate the fact that Harmon still felt the need to apologize. I especially appreciate that he include the crew, because those of us who aren’t rich and/or pretty often don’t get mentioned at all.

In conclusion, while Dan Harmon may be kind of a dick, at least he knows it, and apologizes for it (eventually).

* * *

In other news, some people have asked what I think about the Black Swan interns winning their case.

Meh.

It’s a Pyrrhic victory at best. None of the articles I found mentioned how much these guys won. Whatever it is, I hope it’s enough to make their own movie, because there’s little chance of them working their way up the traditional ladder, now.

It’s also likely to cause problems for the Industry as a whole, down the road. Remember, the reason you’re an intern is because you don’t know anything. You’re not being paid because you’re not worth anything. I’m sorry to be so harsh, but it’s true.

Of course, I’m an old fogey, who hasn’t interned in, like, months. Don’t take my word for it. Check out this blog from @WritingNewman:

A Hollywood intern experiences just about every facet of the filmmaking process early on in a manner in which college was unable to provide. What better way to filter potential job choices than by doing them for free? Executive assistant, PA, personal assistant, office assistant, cast driver, etc. are jobs that successful interns have transition into because they did them for free then found their niche. Others went on to writing, directing, and even acting. Point is, getting a taste of different jobs in the real world is a rare opportunity that internships provide. You’re taking a risk, but the benefits greatly out weigh any potential downfall – unless you sideswipe your boss’s Benzo.

The key to accepting your role as an intern is leaving that sense of entitlement behind the second you walk through those doors. The air you breathe, as muggy and thick as it may be in LA, is all you’re entitled to. Work for everything else. Bust your ass for 3-6 months as an intern then look ahead, whether that’s an internship within a larger company or an entry level assistant job. False expectations and entitlement will skew your point of view of the situation and you’ll begin to resent the time you’re sacrificing. That’s when you make rash decisions like suing a billion-dollar company for beans and shells.

Granted, in some cases, interns are doing jobs PAs should be paid for. And after this lawsuit, a lot of that will go away. But the suit will scare companies, and a lot of legitimate internships will go away, too.

For now, that’s okay. Current interns will be upgraded to PA, go through the ranks, and everything will be right with the world. But what happens after them? With no one interning, no one will be qualified to PA a few years from now. And you think assistants are stupid now? Wait until you see assistants who’ve never even interned.

(Incidentally, this is what’s wrong with the minimum wage in general.3)

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. There’s also a rape joke in there that I won’t repeat, because I don’t want to get angry comments like Harmon did.
  2. Still do, in fact.
  3. Yeah, that’s right, I’m linking to a Walter Williams video. What of it? I recently referred to the villain of the most recent Muppets movie as a “job creator.” And that was before I heard about the Fox News kerfuffle.
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4 Responses

  1. Tapa: have u ever done grip, elect, props, wardrobe, camera, transpo, any other dept besides production, non union of course, unless you are a member of one and haven’t shared that with us. How would you tapa answer a question involving a dept you have never worked? Other than what you have “seen”and heard, would you advise a person to NOT work in one if YOU YOURSELF have not had the experience?

  2. Undoubtedly, Glatt and Footman received some benefits from their internships, such as resume listings, job references, and an understanding ofhow a production office works.68 But those benefits were incidental to working in the office like any other employee and were not the result ofinternships intentionally structured to benefit them. Resume listings and job references result from any work relationship, paid or unpaid, and are not the academic or vocational training benefits envisioned by this factor.

  3. I’m already seeing fallout from the Black Swan case on our show, where the UPM has a developed relationship with several universities to bring kids in to intern across multiple departments for a summer, with the understanding that, if they do well, they may be offered the PA job for that department come next season after their graduation.

    We were informed this week that because of the Black Swan case, the current interns will be allowed to finish out, and then no more. Ever.

    I know this is happening on other shows as well, but it’s really disappointing. Now it’s going to be just that much harder for these kids to get to working. My own internship experiences years ago are directly and indirectly responsible for almost every job and call I’ve gotten.

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