Let's all go to the lobby. Let's all go to the lobby
Hello, and welcome to movies versus capitalism and anti capitalist movie podcast. I am Frank Capello,
and I am Rifka Rivera. So Frank, as we've been discussing, yay, WGA got their contract actors are still on strike. There's also in addition to everything that we are fighting for in sag in the contract, which we've talked about before AI, many other things. There's another movement that's been happening sort of alongside this growing movement called auditions or work. And what actors are fighting for here is the recognition that yes, auditions are work, but not only that, that they should be paid for this labor. Because as both of us know, it's intense labor to audition. Yeah,
that makes a lot of sense to me. As, as some of our listeners know, I used to be a card carrying sag AFTRA member rybka still is, you know, I lived in LA for a decade was doing the whole, you know, actor auditioning thing, and, and you're still doing it. And, yeah, it's a, it's a shit ton of work, to to be a working actor, and to put in the labor necessary to adequately perform in an audition. One argument that we've heard from people is, you know, like, oh, an audition is just a job interview, and I don't get paid to go on job interviews. And there's some truth in that, but also, it's completely inaccurate, because the type of labor that is required to go into an acting audition is more exhaustive and intensive than I think, most of the work that I've done to go into job interviews, and now now being in like the, the nine to five, no pun intended, but like the regular job market, you know, I prepare for job interviews, but it's I'm not like, I'm not studying over my lines. I'm not, you know, I'm not I'm not hiring coaches, I'm not doing all the other work that goes into acting auditions, an incredible amount
of work. I mean, if there's supplemental work, the prep that you get yourself ready for, and then it all changed. During the pandemic, when normally you go into a casting office where they would do doing a large amount of labor by putting on the lights filming you getting you set up with a
microphone, a camera, having someone read with you, yep, it is
now up to the actor, for the most part to do all of those things. So they are doing the literal job of a casting director, at least part of what that job would be assigned to a casting director in the past,
yes, this has been a big change, as you said, in the pandemic, a lot of auditions now are what is called in the business self tapes, which means you get an email, and they say, Hey, you got an audition, please do all of the work of the actor and the casting director and send us a tape of your audition. And, you know, shooting one of those tapes is not good. Like Rebekah said, You got to have lights, you got to have good sound, you got to have a decent background, you got to have quiet, you have to have someone reading with you. It's not It's not nothing to just like, knock out one of these tapes. And guess what, if you if you do one, that's just like shooting from your iPhone, you know, if you're sitting in your car, just reading the lines to camera, you're probably not going to get that fucking job, because the casting directors are gonna see that and be like, Oh, they didn't put any work into this. They didn't put any labor into this.
So unfortunately, the reality is that, because tapes have become so much more accessible. And you can just ask for more of them. They'll be asking for more tapes. And they might even be considering we know this. You could be I've spent so much time on so many auditions that, you know, after the fact or you realize was just going to be given to a name, a name someone's friend, someone's family member. I mean, so it's labor. And then on top of it is labor that you you're sort of taking a gamble at whether it's going to be seen, there's so many factors that are involved. But bottom line, it's it's labor,
it's labor. And the last thing before we get to the auditions are work movement. The last component of this is if you are a working actor, you have to essentially be on call during regular business hours to do these auditions. That is a huge, huge part of being a working actor that I don't think a lot of people know because even when casting directors were doing sessions on their own, those would all happen during regular business hours. And the way that it would usually work is that, you know, maybe the day before maybe two days before but sometimes the day of you would get an email or a call from your agent or manager. They'd be like, Hey, you have an audition in three hours. You have an audition tomorrow at 11am You have to be there there's no other choice. So it the onus is put on the actors to then find jobs. that are flexible and jobs that allow them to, at a moment's notice at the drop of a hat, go and do all of this labor to fulfill the audition, meaning that like actors have to work in bars and restaurants and other things other non traditional employment. That's why That's why actors have those jobs. That's because they don't know how to do anything else. It's because they're literally have to be on call Monday through Friday, nine to five.
Yeah, no, that's such a great point. And underlying all of that is actually her Jessica Chasteen. Speaking on, I think it was a SAG AFTRA panel pretty courageously, the things she had to say, but just sort of like exposing the reality that underneath all of this is this toxic culture and this ideology that well, you're doing something you love? So, you know, like,
you should just be grateful?
Yeah, getting paid, getting paid on, like, vibes, essentially, be grateful. And like any of this other stuff, you know, when you do the math, that's why like, I think sometimes also, when actors get like, I remember my first job knowing not a lot being like, wow, I'm getting this big paycheck. I also knew not, you know, figuring out live, not a lot, considering but then you divide that in half of like, all the work you did, and how many hours you put in to get to that point. You're, it's below minimum wage, like far below probably in the negative space. So this all being said, you would think at least I thought, when I first heard about this movement was, Oh, they're fighting for something else to be you know, that we're going to that we're going to fight to get into our contracts.
So what do you thought they were trying to get into a movement for actors to be paid for their work in auditions?
Yeah, I thought that was, you know, the fight at least that the fight to be like, let's get this in our contracts. It turns out, this has actually been in our contracts since 1947. Well, so yeah. So sag AFTRA has TV theatrical schedules, A and B states that performers are owed half the scale day rate for every audition we perform, but don't book. This covers, the vast majority of roles in network chose Studio features and high budget indies, half our current day rate comes to $541 per audition.
So what you're telling me is there are 10s of 1000s of dollars that I left on the table, from my tenure as an actor, because I simply didn't know about this part in the contract. That's cool.
Yeah. And you might be wondering, like, oh, is are some actors getting paid this some not? For the most part, what's been happening is like, nobody has been really the way to enforce this as you actually have to go, you sort of have to push the studio to do this. Like for the reasons I just said, it's really hard, you would be an outlier, you would probably fear being blacklisted you would be fear being called difficult to work with your reps, maybe dropping you that like that's an impossible thing to think of, which is why this is not a fight for an individual, this kind of fight to get what we've already been granted requires. Solidarity requires a movement. And so it's been really amazing to see. And I'll be honest, I want to learn more. I haven't haven't dived in nearly enough into this movement, but it's auditions are work, you can go to auditions or work.org. To find out more, it's really organized. And on here they are listing their demand. So the demands again, because this is already in the contract. This is what they're saying. These are the steps that we need sag AFTRA leadership to take to enforce audition pay. So the first one is rescind the September 28 2022. Requirements notice which limited the circumstances under which the union would pursue audition pay. These circumstances are not found in our contract and union members were not given a chance to vote on this change. So that's the first demand. The second is to reject any contract proposal from the A MPTP the studios that diminishes the audition pay provision in any way. And third to enforce the audition pay provision by using automated procedures. This would ensure that members do not need to file claims for their owed payments so that would Hell Yeah, amazing. Absolutely. Yeah.
Yeah, that's awesome. I mean, I'm I'm conflicted because I wish that I had known about this provision in our contracts when I was still auditioning, but I'm not going to be one of those people who's like I paid off my student loans so you should have to pay off yours. No, I want I want the I want this movement to gain some steam and I think it would be unbelievable for sag to enforce this on behalf of its members, especially because as we have learned over the course of this, this sag strike, it's what's the number how many sag actors qualify for the health insurance like Less than 10% or something, some something along those lines. You know, most people in Sag ourselves included that like do not are not working regularly, you know, like, other than the people that you see on the TV shows regularly. There's like 10s of 1000s of other actors who do not work that regularly and getting like getting money getting paid for the labor of auditioning would be like, that would be a huge material win for 10s of 1000s of working actors.
Yeah, I mean, to all your points, I just want to, I really hope people go check out this website, because I am also just, we can link to it in the show notes. Amazing how they're just very well organized. The points are all here, there's a audition pay calculator, so you could put in your gross earnings and like, or you could put in the number of auditions that you have done, and see your gross earnings. And then they have something that says direct impact on your life. Pay off your base union dues, your car student loan payments, covers your rent for a month, like all of this stuff. And wow, then the financial impact exactly like you were just saying they have a point about health insurance only currently only 12.7% of sag AFTRA members earn the annual 26,470 needed to qualify for union health insurance, through audition, pay 48, non booked auditions in one year will qualify you for health insurance, that's fewer than one per week, and even fewer that is amazing. And I think, okay, and they have a lot of other amazing points on here, take a look at this website, I think. So the stuff that I have, in conversation come up against when people are like, but if you do this, then it'll create a problem for people getting in the door for people who don't have representation for people who, because there's because obviously, as we said at the top, it's a very relationship based Nepo baby, like nepotism drives, a lot of who gets jobs. To me that feels very fear based. I think that there there are ways to help. I don't like using the term developmental actor, but it's something that I've heard use, like help actors who are earlier in their careers trying to, you know, maybe be seen for parts, you can make sure that there's a certain amount of auditions available for that. I'm not going to say it's like there's not going to be a way that like the old system would have to like find a new way of being. But I don't think having people do endless amounts of free labor is the answer.
But also those problems that you just outlined for, you know, non union actors finding their foot through the door, those problems already exist. Yeah, to me, those those sort of seem like separate issues like it's all right, it is already extremely difficult for a non union actor to one, find representation, and then to book enough work as a non union member to then qualify to get into the Union. That's a great point, like those are already pretty massive hurdles that exist completely independently from the fact that union actors should be getting paid for their labor. I mean, non union actors should be getting paid for their for their audition labor. But I mean,
and there's already a whole industry, which is, they call it pay to play where you pay to go be seen by a casting director. I mean, there's already this stuff where you're not only not only is a free labor, you're paying to be seen you're like it's a mess, I would rather know there were less people being seen for a part, but legitimately being seen, because we are being paid to be seen, then take off half a day, like lose income, put in 15 hours of free labor and not even know if my tape is going to be seen past 20 seconds.
Well, this is super exciting. I am really hopeful that with the energy that has gone into and has come out of the WGA strike the sag strike just all of the union activity that is now percolating across the country that rank and file sag members start to feel a little bit more militant and what they should be demanding from not only leadership in the Union, but also from the studios. I have to be hopeful that this galvanizes I think I would say a more militant sag rack rank and file to like really push for some of these demands in the future. It would be great. It'd be great to see. Yeah,
movements are are happening. So we'll keep we'll keep an eye out for that.
All right, well, we should probably get to our conversation today a really truly wonderful conversation we had with Patricia Resnick, the screenwriter of nine to five. But before we do, we just want to let our listeners know that this podcast is brought to you by the lever which is a reader supported investigative news outlet and you can go to lever news.com to find all of their original reporting.
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but we will be right back to discuss nine to five with Patricia Resnick. Well, we are so lucky and happy to be joined today by Patricia Resnick. Patricia is a renowned American Screenwriter and producer with significant contributions to film, TV and theatre. she penned the iconic film nine to five which we will be talking about today. Resnick also contributed to television recently as CO exec producer for better things. And in theater. She earned a Drama Desk nomination for nine to five, the Broadway musical book and wrote sketches for Lilly Tomlins appearing nightly and so much more. But we just want to dive right into this conversation with you. Welcome to movies versus capitalism. Patricia,
thank you. Thank you for having me. And thank you for giving me points with my 27 year old son.
Does he does he listen to the podcast? Or just he listens to podcasts?
He listens to podcasts, but he's very anti capitalist.
Oh, hell yeah. So
that's where I get that's what I get the points for being on your podcast. Yeah.
Happy to provide those points for you. Thank you, echoing. Well, Rebekah said, we're so thrilled this is the first time we get to speak to someone about an iconic film who actually wrote the film. So we're thrilled. But before we even get into that, first, there was big news this week, the Writers Guild of America which had been on strike for Geez, how many months at this point, about five, five months, reached a tentative agreement with the A MPTP the studios and the streamers. And as of I believe a day ago, the strike has ended. And from what we have a bunch of friends who are in the guild and from what it sounds like, it sounds like, you know, the guild got a lot of what it was asking for, and people are happy with the deal. So we just wanted to ask you about your experience through this strike. And I mean, you've been in this industry for a while. I think when we're speaking on the phone, you said this is your fifth strike. So can you tell us a little bit about how the industry has changed from that time and how this strike maybe feels different or the same from strikes of the past
the other strikes that I was involved in that that stand out in my mind, because there were three in the 80s. So they tend to push together a little bit in my brain, but they generally were over a new piece of technology. So whether it was video cassettes, or then DVDs, it generally had something to do with that. Just as AI was a big part of this strike, and certainly not the only problem that we had. But I have to say this strike felt totally different to me than the other strikes in that it felt like there was so much more public support. And unions, which I grew up in a very left wing, very pro union household. We didn't have union members, my mom was a housewife and my dad was an attorney. But we believed in unions, we believe you don't cross a picket line, all of that. And then I guess some time maybe in the 80s 90s, there started to be a general anti union feeling in America. And that seemed to continue until recently. I've I've never had as many cars honking horns in support. Every time I was picking it didn't matter which studio and things that surprised me where a guy in a mail truck a postman was honking his horn to cops in a cop car. were honking their horns. There was just so much support and then the support between the unions, the teamsters were really key in helping us because the problem set Do we writers have when we strike as opposed to actors or directors, when they strike from day one, production stops when we strike, especially because you often know, the studio's know, there might be a strike, they start having people write scripts faster, they start stacking scraps. And so it usually takes a few months before we even begin to touch them. But what was different this time was that the teamsters would not cross our picket lines, you can't make a TV or show or film without trucks, it's not possible. And so we were able to shut down a lot of productions really quickly. So and I feel like a lot of the reason for the support is because people are sick of toxic capitalism. People are just sick to death of it, and to have the CEOs who are getting paid $250 million a year, or whatever idiotic amount they're getting, whining and crying about the fact that they can, you know, give people 1% Raise that they can't pay people enough to afford to live in New York or LA, where the rents are insane. I think people are just really, really tired.
Wow, to hear I mean, I was feeling that as well, but to hear you say how that difference was so tangible, and that solidarity is so widespread, is really hopeful and inspiring. And I think I mean, we talk about all the time, how deeply we need to share those moments of hope and celebration in this journey, and they can get lost. But that's really beautiful to hear. Because we know that while this fight was one here, you know, saga is still waiting to have their conversation and their agreements met. And there'll be so many more. So I think, as you're saying, just as the postman and I don't know if I'll be where I'll be on the police union, but as the most men were out there supporting us that that awakening and you can't beat being on the street and having that recognition. I had that as well. And it's exhilarating of just person to person, worker to worker. Yeah, labor is labor period. And that realization that like, there are people who are making so gross amounts of wealth off of labor that is not theirs. As you said, I think people are waking up and that's inspiring and exciting. And that's a good
segue to start talking about your film because this is a story of real solidarity between three women. Today we are discussing a film that was has been on our list for a long time. I'm so excited we get to do it in this way, but we're talking about nine to five this film was directed by Colin Higgins written by yourself, Patricia Resnick and Colin Higgins, produced by IPC films, which is Jane Fonda's company and just distributed by 20th Century Fox. The film was made for under $10 million and grossed over 103 point 9 million worldwide becoming the first female dominated film to gross $100 million at the box office. This movie stars Jane Fonda Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and Dabney Coleman. And if you've never seen it or haven't seen it in a while nine to five is a dark comedy that unfolds as three female secretaries played by Fonda Tomlin and Parton, who are working in the male dominated workplaces have consolidated companies, which I just have to say, Wow, what a brilliant name for a company. The trio spend a night together having drug induced fantasies of killing their misogynistic boss, Franklin Hart, played by Dabney Coleman. Then through a series of mishaps and misunderstandings, the ladies take vengeance against heart by kidnapping him and taking control of the company. And so
before we jump into the conversation, we always like to give a little context for the year that the film came out. So the film and feel free to add anything, these are just some facts to put us in the mood of the year 1980 when this film was released, Jimmy Carter is the 39th President of the United States, we've just entered into the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression, and we're in the beginnings of the student debt loan crisis. Exxon Mobil is America's biggest company, followed by General Motors, mobile, Ford Motor and Texaco. The minimum wage is $3.10 per hour, and the average monthly rent is $300. Sounds great. Michael and Jessica are top baby names. The three M Company began selling post it notes. And CNN begins broadcasting from Atlanta, Georgia and is the first all news channel in the United States and the first network in television history to broadcast the 24 hour news cycle. All. So those are some of the some of the things that are happening in the US when this film comes out. So, Patricia, we always love to start off by asking our guests Why did you choose this movie for us to watch, but I'm really happy that I get to ask what why did you write this movie?
So I had started working for a director, Robert Altman right out of film school.
I think I've heard of him.
You know, it's it's funny, which I and some people have, some people have not, but he was one of the preeminent directors, certainly in the 70s. And I had co written a couple of movies for him, I had left him I, you know, to try to pursue my own stuff. And I read in the trades that Jane Fonda wanted to make a movie about clerical workers with Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin, Lily Tomlin had given me my very first writing gig. And I had met dolly and written a bid for her, I wrote a sketch for her for a share special that she was the guests are on. And I'd always been a huge fan of Jane Fonda is both as an actress and, and as an activist. So I saw that, and I immediately wanted to put my, you know, put myself up for the job. And luckily, we were with the same agency. And she read some of my stuff. And I went and met with her. And she had been meeting with an organization that was trying to unionize clerical workers. And so she had a stack, you know, as high as my head of just statistics about secretaries and office workers. And but she said, but I want it to be a comedy, because I think that'll make the message more palatable. So it was then up to me to try to come up with a story and parts for those three women. Wow.
So we were doing a little bit of research. You know, there was a documentary that came out, I think, either last year, the year before about the nine to five movement, which was a real part of the the Women's Liberation Movement of the 60s and 70s. Yeah, that primarily focused around female office workers or just like women who had joined the workforce over the preceding decades. And we're encountering all of these headwinds that are so like, brilliantly portrayed in the film. So I'm curious, as you're developing this movie with Jane Fonda and her company, how much are you talking about? What is happening at the time? What was the feeling on the ground as you were going into develop this, like with everybody,
the thing for me that really informed it was going to spend a couple of weeks at, it happened to be foxes Insurance Company, which was just a big company in downtown LA, because I had not worked as a secretary. I been a waitress and various and sundry other things. But I had never been a secretary. And so I went every day for a couple of weeks and became close with some of the women and got their stories and watch what was going on. And that made all of those, you know, statistics, those kinds of drives statistics, come come to life, and added a whole piece of the puzzle, which was not originally in there, which was the whole question of sexual harassment. And that came up because I watched it happening, character that Dolly Parton plays, that story was happening to the boss's secretary at the office, and I was hanging out it. Other than that, you know, it's funny, I feel like, even though the impetus was to say something about offices and workers, once you get into the studio, then you're embroiled in the script itself, you know, then your notes are very rarely going to be on what you're saying. It's more on, you know, what's the structure and what's the characters and there was some concern, my original drafts was much darker. It was still a comedy, but I had them actually tried to kill the boss in funny ways, instead of having fantasies about it, and that that scared them. So in 1979, when they were making it, they were quite ready for that. So that got that got softened up. And it's interesting too, that the reviews at the time. The silhouettes you mentioned was a very big hit, but the reviews are resoundingly mediocre and they almost don't even mention what it is that we're talking about. And it's interesting that almost all of the critics, I think, other than Pauline Kael, most of the critics at the time were were men. And they didn't really talk about women's rights or the message of the movie, they just kind of dismissed it as being kind of a silly movie.
That's really interesting to hear. And, you know, as we've done this with different films, I've seen that trend where it's sort of as you look at the reviews over time, and movies that now are really particularly films that have really important strong political messaging that really hit the heartstrings. I'm thinking about, Oh, Frank, now I'm forgetting the name of the movie with Denzel that we did with Nina Turner, John Q, John Q, just in that there was actually when you started to uncover it, like an intentional reason for them to not want people to look at the how resonant that was with the health care issue, like people were afraid of the message. And this film is so popular. And I just think it's really interesting to hear that it makes a lot of sense hearing you talk about not having to think about the message as you're writing these characters, because I'm thinking about just how the political is personal, the personal is political, you don't separate those. And I just think that that is so clear, and these female characters, of course, you don't have to be thinking outwardly about their politics, because everything about them is their politics and how they move through the world and their relationships with their ex husbands and their relationships with each other and their relationships to the workplace that I think that's for me why this was so moving on this rewatch. And I learned a lot rewatching it about writing about how you don't have to worry about pushing forward a message or being preachy, when you're true to the character that there's like truth to that humanity, you don't have to worry about the message because it's inherently going to be in the lives lived and how these characters exist. And I think that's just like, all of all of the characters are written so fully played so wonderfully, so nuanced that Yeah, I mean, there's not. It's a masterclass in that in my mind,
you know, it's interesting, because I never really consciously thought about it. But you're, you're exactly right, once once we determined that, okay, one, one character, one woman was going to be newly divorced and has never worked as new to the office and is a complete fish out of water. Another one is going to be clearly the most efficient, smartest person in the office, but it's always passed over, up because she's female. And the third, nobody in the office likes because they're all sure that she's sleeping with the boss, because the boss says she's sleeping with them. And so she's dismissed as a human being entirely. And also because of the way she looks. And so once that was set up, you're right after that, I never had to think about, Oh, does someone need to make a big speech with the message because it's built in to who they are
what you said about your earlier draft being too dark, and then actually, you know, killing the boss. I think that is extremely telling, because I feel like a film like this could be perceived as dangerous in its radical politics. And I find it very interesting that I mean, this movie was produced, I assume, and you know, 79 came out in 80. This is coming after, you know, all of 70s You know, Hollywood film The Golden Era. You know, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, how many how many movies did we watch of gangsters killing one another? But the second you say, hey, maybe these three female secretaries killed their boss. That is maybe a little bit a bridge too far. Yeah.
Yeah. You know, and you know, it's interesting, because here we are in 2023. And you mentioned we did a musical based on it. That was on Broadway in 2009. And then it was revived on the West End, in London in 2019. And since then, it's been touring all around the world. It was in Australia for a year. It's been all over the UK, it was actually just in South Korea, the one place that it cannot go is China. And the reason is because they're standing up to authority. And so that's not kosher. I'm mixing metaphors wildly by using kosher in China. Sorry about China. But anyway, they're still problems with with that.
It's interesting. Well, we'll kind of jump around but since you brought up the musical and the music, and one of the things that is so This movie so known for is the song which was actually written after, right? It was written and inspired like throughout which I just as a, as a writer and an actor and a creator. There were so many pieces of just how the movie was put together that were really inspiring. Starting with you hearing of the story started that Jane Fonda heard about this movement was involved with this movement, knew this would be a great story. And then you heard it and came together and started collaborating based on just the desire to tell this labor story. And then get together this amazing group of women and men, but like, women, and that then Dolly Parton is like, I I'll do it, but I want to write the music. So like all these really amazing. Now famous and iconic pieces of this story seem to come together really collaboratively, but like, driven by a passion to tell this story, driven by a creative, a shared creative desire, which is really rare to see and see allowed under this capitalist system. So I wonder also, how much of that was? Because this was Jane Fonda's production company? And what what was your experience as a writer being able to work in that kind of environment?
Well, Jane, you know, Jane was, is a real movie star. And during that period, to get to get Jane Fonda and and moving was was a big get. And then to add Lillian Dolly, I mean, Lily had a dolly had never done a movie before. But she, you know, certainly had a lot of fans as a singer. And Willie was very known from everything from laughing to a bunch of other stuff she'd done. And we knew we had Jane from the get go, because it was her idea and her company. And it was written for Lilly and Dolly, we didn't know for sure that we would get them. But but we did. And from that, from that point on, you know, the movie was certainly going to get made, there was no question about it. And from when I first pitched it to the studio until it came out, was about a year, which is really fast in movie time. Although it was three administrations. In that year, the head of the studio changed three times. So by the time it came out, Sherry Lansing was president and got to take credit for it. So that was nice for her. But it was a great thing, it was a great thing to work on. One of the executives was a very close friend of James, and female. So it was great. It was great to work on, it stopped being great for me to work on when they had trouble finding a director and finding a director in time because there was a small window when all three of these women were not booked to do something else. And if you're a writer, and they hire a writer, director, you're you're toast. And nowadays, almost every feature has multiple names on it. It's pretty rare. If you're getting right indirect it that you're not going to get replaced. But I was used to working with Altman, who always kept his writers on the set. And, and in this case, the director did not really want me to be around and that was, yeah, that was hard. Oh,
I'm sorry to hear that.
That's okay. I kind of done nine to five.
Yeah, I was gonna say that's not I mean, it's not, you know, we're thinking about it that there's all these female collaborators, and there is a male director and so that's yeah, that's resonant for sure. But you're
sure I want to read something I found on on Twitter. This comes from user Manic Pixie meme queen. Not only does nine to five critique capitalism, but he critiques the patriarchy and its intersections with capitalism, thus making it more revolutionary than the Communist Manifesto.
I love that.
I love that too. And I wanted to use that as a preface to jump into this question because I thought one of the most brilliant parts of the film is the intersectional view it has of capitalist patriarchy or patriarchy, patriarchal capitalism, however you want to describe it because Jane and Lily and Dolly are all brilliant. I also got to give it up to Dabney Coleman who played X an excellent piece of shit. An excellent piece of shit.
That's a hard part. I've seen many people attempted in the musical over the years. It's It is a tough part and he did a brilliant job.
Hart is you know, probably one of the worst balls So as ever portrayed on film, he's a misogynist, he, you know, does he does everything he does everything from, you know, forcing violet to go shopping for his wife to asking DOORLY to do a turn in front of him. And then he like abusively dresses down Judy, after she has a mishap with the printer. But not only do we have that we have the dynamic between the women at the office, which is where this intersection of capitalism and patriarchy comes in, because the women are forced to be in competition with one another. And that is exemplified through the character of Roz, who is basically hearts like number two, she's like the top woman in the office, and, you know, essentially like his his spy, and, you know, she'll she'll turn the other women in, if it means that she's gonna get advanced at all. And I thought that was such a brilliant layer of showing how, because of the way that capitalism creates the scarcity mentality between people, and when you add the gender dynamic, it forces this like scarcity mentality between the women at the office where they feel oh, no, there's only space enough for one of us, maybe two of us. So, you know, you're not my sister, you're not my comrade, like you're my competition. I'm curious where that aspect of the story came from, because I thought it was such a brilliant layer within within what was already a very dynamic story,
you know, in in Hollywood at the time, as a, as a young female, I very much would feel that with female executives, there were female executives, as I said, by the time the movie came out, we there was a female head of, you know, 20th Century Fox, but there was still very much, um, I guess this, this saying is probably I don't know how problematic this saying is, but since I'm Jewish, I'm gonna throw it out there. But the only Jew in the country club, there was a feeling where female executives, it felt like they were afraid to really back a female writer, or God forbid, a female director, because if it didn't go, well, they would be blamed for throwing their power behind. So just because they were female. And so I often felt that they were harder on me, because I was female. And also, I was in I was in my 20s. And, you know, most of these women were at least in their 30s, which means that they were born in, in the four in the 40s, in the 1940s. And so, they were really inculcated, maybe a little bit more than I was, with that 50s mentality about the male and the power dynamic. It was really a really a problem. And then there's always, you know, there's always the person who's in whatever minority it is, who aligns themselves with management. That just always happens. There's always someone who feels that, you know, well, I can get the little power detritus, I can get the little leavings Yeah, oh, I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday, who's who's a teacher at an art college and they're trying they're really trying to unionize. And a lot of the faculty is management aligned. And it's so crazy to me, interests. What's wrong with you? How, how do you not see that of course, unionizing is going to be good for you being nothing but good for you. Especially at an art school at an art school. Right. Yeah. That's nice. But anyways, so you know, this is still going on. But it was also important to me at the time, I loved that the three women ended up bonding, you know, because unfortunately, and this is still true. However, many decades later, but so many movies with multiple women in them, the women end up being adversaries. And I loved in this that even though Roz is adversarial, the real adversary is hard and the patriarchy and the office, and I hope you feel a little for Roz because she's not just a Martin that she clearly is in love with him, which is so sick. Oh, but she is but I wanted the women I wanted the three leads to those characters to to really bond and really form a genuine friendship, which they did and it was really helpful that the three actresses do You'd actually really get along, you know, during the shoot from everything I understand. And I think that you felt it.
Yeah, truly it's the heart of the film. I mean, the scene where they're all smoking pot together and laughing hysterically. Yeah, I dare anyone to watch that and not smile. You can't, it's infectious. And it Yeah, and it's placed so perfectly, because that is just the point where you're tied with them. Through this through the joy, which again, this is a labor movie. And so I think that it's so joyful, is really important, because we talk a lot about how how much that can be missed in organizing and labour building and how crucial it is that it's joyful. Because ultimately, the outcome is like, we're looking for more joy and abundance and well being. So the process can be and I also thought you wrote I thought wrote, Roz was written and played with a lot of empathy, which is hard. We've, we watched Working Girl on here, and I remember we had a lot of conversations, there was a lot of like, adversary between the two female characters and the boss character. And to me, I was like, I almost in the rewatch was getting ready for some girl bossing. And I didn't find any of that in this, which was really a wonderful surprise, because I felt like, you know, you think of the 80s as a time where that was being pushed forward as the sort of like the brand of female empowerment. But the problem of course, with girl boss is like, there's only one room for one boss, and it's just a replication of the system. And this filament is at his heart is not that at all. In fact, at the end, for anyone who hasn't seen in a while or revisited, it's, if you're feeling that all the way through, then it's pretty mind blowing, when you get to the end, and the office is literally transformed by these women, not just you could have easily made it just right, like feminist vibes,
or like that, or like they get rid of heart. And that's, you know, that's a big win. And that's
the win. And now everyone gets to work without this awful man around. But that has nothing to do with this system. Instead, they transformed the office to have in office daycare, flexible, like things that I'm like, wow, these are so radical, flexible hours job sharing program, we still
don't have things we still don't have yet still don't have job sharing. And like an alcoholics recovery program, like unbelievable,
you know, Rivka, you said something that made me think about something that I've never thought which is unusual, with nine to five, because I've been talking about it for so many years. But but the thing about the competition between men, women and the friendship between women, you know, a lot of the competition between women, some of it's over work, but I think so much of it is over men, right? And I think the fact that I'm I'm not a straight female, I'm a gay female. And so my, I still don't have that mindset of oh, I'm competing with the other women to get the dye. And that's the scarcity. Thinking, right? Because I want that guy. And there's only that one and other women are trying to get him from vegan, are they prettier than I am and all of that, that, you know, that was not in my worldview. And so I wonder if that kind of seeped in.
And thank God, it was not in this film it was so it's so refreshing. In fact, like, I can't most feel it's like this happened. And then you have all these other films that replicate some of those same patriarchal stereotypes that are true, but also, women care so much more about women care so deeply about their friendships and about these bonds. And the fact that that is so scary and radical is says a lot. And how empowering that is.
It's funny, I didn't even clock that there wasn't a romance until right now, because I didn't, I didn't miss it, you know, like, and, and I'm assuming that's like a note that you would probably get, or anyone would get from a studio head like, oh, we gotta have a romance in here. Otherwise, it's not a movie.
Yeah. It never never came up. We did put put a little one in the musical. But that was that was primarily Well, it's for two reasons. One is if you've got Dolly Parton writing your score, and you can't have write a love song, yeah, you're you're you're kind of missing something. But also, we also wanted to, we wanted to have a guy in the show, who was a good guy. We didn't want to make it seem like we're just male bashing and all the men are awful. And the part of the dolly characters husband is small. And so we gave the Lily Tomlin character, a romance but we I flipped it by making him much younger, younger. He's a much younger man. Oh, yeah. Yeah. So try to make it not the standard.
Patricia. I'm curious. One of the one of the last questions I have jumping off of what we were just talking about these these reforms that the women Institute in their workplaces that make the workplace just like, you know, night and day better for everyone. These are the type of reforms that you would normally see through like a unionization effort. You already spoke about you were you know, you were researching and working with unions at the time and writing this movie. But the idea of unionization doesn't come up in the film. Was there ever a conversation about that? I mean, obviously, the premise of the movie three women kidnap their boss, and then making their office better, you know, doesn't necessarily need a union. And it works. Just it works like fine on its own. But I'm curious if there was ever a conversation about, you know, is there a union storyline or anything like that,
you know, possibly, possibly early on because Jane was so involved with and actually the the group is, was an is they still exist called nine to five. Although nobody works nine to five anymore, people would kill now for an octave. Sure, a nine to five job. But you know, we never talked about it that much simply because what she sent me off to think of a story, the first thing that occurred to me was, you know, what, if it's these three women with just the worst boss in the world, and they hate him so much that they tried to kill them and ended up kidnapping, that that was the one liner. And I think that nitty gritty of putting together a union does not necessarily lend itself to comedy, you know, witness, Norm normal array, which is a great movie, you know, union. It's a wonderful movie, but certainly, certainly a drama.
I also wanted to ask about the end, because I was also surprised that this is like you're saying a comedy, but it was very much could feel the the need for that darkness and the edge. And so I think it's interesting, you said, there's an even darker, there was an even darker desire of yours, which I love. Yeah, but they do make all of these changes. And ultimately, because it makes people happier are the big capitalists at the top is happy because they're getting better work. And so it works out for them. And so we feel like they got away with something. However, there is which I think is really interesting. They're standing in the child daycare and Russell tins were the the, the Board Chairman who's like the big whip, Greg, and wearing all white and a hat and it was just flown in from Brazil, is hold literally holding a little girl in his hands. And the women are behind him in there. He's like, I love all of these things, except for the pay equity, like we're not going to do that. And so at the very end, you get this feeling of like, it's not giving that sort of completely cathartic. This is totally happy. Like, if you're watching, you know, there's real work to be done, we get some things but like the most important, the most fundamental thing is still being flicked away by the man at the top and by this system. And I thought that was yeah, it left me really thinking and it left me really loving that choice. So I was just curious if there were other options, if there was a lot of thought about like, what do we how do we end this? Do we give them everything?
I mean, it first of all that that line, it's interesting because we we kept that line in the musical. And it still gets a huge response. It gets an enormous laugh, which is kind of too bad. You know, you almost wish it didn't. Because if it wasn't a problem anymore, it wouldn't get the laugh. But it's a laugh of recognition by the women in the audience. Because there's still you know, not parity, you know, is it better? Yeah. Is it equal? No, it's not. And I think the light is there just because we didn't want to do Oh, this is the perfect little happy ending. They all went to the seashore, tie it up in a bow and but as far as just ending the movie, it's funny. We had a lot of trouble ending it. We never could quite quite come up with that button. Which is why at the end now there's the roll that tells you what happened to each of them. That that happened in post because they realize somehow the end of the movie just didn't feel like an end. And same thing in the musical we keep we changed a bit what happens to everybody, but it was the same thing. I There's a speech now, at the end, that's not in the movie, because one of the nice things about theater is you get to keep messing with it. Where it's the violent, the Lily Tomlin character and makes a speech about, you know, there's the guy, and there's the little guy. And the little guy is everybody, you know, including women, and what the life is like of the guy as compared to what the life is like, for the little guy. And that speech gets huge applause. But you still can't end on it. So I don't know what it is about ending that movie. But we seem to need that scroll. And we needed that line to say, Yeah, but there's still a lot of work. There's still a lot of work.
Yeah, it's, it's perfect, because it's like you said, it's hilarious, because the way that Sterling Hayden delivers it, and you don't expect it after he's just been so effusive over all the changes. But it is it's that reminder, it's that reminder that yeah, there's still so much work to be done. Patricia, my last, my last question before we go to the awards, and we want to be respectful of your time, but from my understanding, nine to five is taken on, you know, quite a new life, I would say in the last few decades between the the musical between the documentary, and I think between a lot of a lot more people, including your 27 year old son sort of waking up to the destructive nature of our economic system that is capitalism. So I'm, I'm just curious, what has that been like for you kind of like having having penned? What is what was already one of the most like preeminent feminist pro labor movies, that has now also taken on the second life as sort of like this anti capitalist anthem? I'm just so curious what that experience has been like for you, you know, when
you when you sit down to write something, I don't think anybody other than a lunatic says, Oh, I'm gonna write something that's going to be iconic and forth. You know, that's not what you're not what you're worried about, you know, you're like it secret to be made? And is it going to do well, and it had an interesting trajectory, because it was a very successful movie. And then I went on to write other things, none of which got close to, you know, that sort of success. But I was, you know, able to lucky enough to keep a career going and keep working. And people had a lot of love in their heart for it, but you didn't hear about it that much. And then it feels like, kind of when was it maybe in the early 2000s, I was asked, they were going to screen it at the Egyptian theater out here. They were doing some, I don't know, they would just show older movies. And I would I come in to answer questions. I said, Sure. And I showed up, and there were all these people in their 30s and 20s. There was a huge male gay audience. There were younger people. I didn't expect that. Because I you know, I don't know who's watching it. And a lot of them had kind of grown up on it. It was like, what are those DVD it wasn't a DVD was a video cassette that, you know, their families had for video cassettes that they would watch endlessly as children. So they had an affection for it. And so that it started kind of coming back into consciousness. And then then we did the musical. And when we did the musical, it was prior to me too. And what was so interesting, because it changed so much, very shortly thereafter. But while we were working on the musical, a lot of journalists were doing interviews with me. They were all men. And they all said, Is it set then or now? And I said it set then and they said, Well how are contemporary audiences going to relate all those problems have been fixed. That's what they thought, wow, that's what they thought and of course, me to disabuse them of that knowledge. And then that opened up a whole new you know, yeah, viewership, I think for it. And, you know, as wonderful as it is to, to sit in in audience and hear people still laugh and share it sad, because they're still completely relating to something that I wrote in my 20s. And you can see by my hair, I am very, very far away from that time in my life, and things haven't changed enough. And a lot of things have gotten worse.
It's very true. Yeah, well, Patricia week i This was such a joy. But before we like the last few things we like to do we like to give out awards for each film. There are three of them. What am I getting? You're getting all of them. It's kind of like our version of the Oscars. But you know, with our twist on it. So the first award is best politics. This goes to the character with the best politics in the movie. Mm, interesting. I'm gonna go ahead and say, I mean, I think all three of the main women have pretty phenomenal politics, especially when they're working together. But I think door Lee, for me, I think was just had like, did not seem to be a mean bone in her body. She was the first one after after it became clear that Lily Tomlin had stolen a body, or at least like, alright, well, we're all in this together now, you know, so I'm gonna give it to DOORLY,
I'm gonna give it to violet. Although DOORLY is a strong contender for me, Violet, viola, I line the most with violet values, and that those values came into action. So clearly, but that violet had been sort of very clear on those for so long, and I think just was really had been there putting in the time. That sort of was when she had solidarity and women who came around her, but I think she, she sort of like had set the ground for this to be ready and knew how just did her job so well, and was so clear about the injustice and clear about what was happening and articulate about that where I think, for both DOORLY and Judy, they had something they had an intuition, but I think they sort of we saw them awaken a little bit more to those injustices where I felt like violet had more of a clarity about it. So I'm gonna give it a violet.
Okay, I actually agree with riff on this one. I think for Georgia Lee, this is a job. And while I think she is very strong within herself, and a very good friends, the women ultimately, I think Violet is the one who, who really sees and knows and understands exactly what's wrong in this company, and can articulate what's wrong. She just can't change it on her own. But she knows she gets it, she knows what's going on.
And I just want to underline again, that's why this film is so radical, because we've seen lots of films that tell us that you can make change alone. And certainly, movies as we've inherited them, under Hollywood sort of demand that you have a hero's story. And this isn't that this is a story of solidarity. And I think with just as we've investigated movies, it's really really rare to find that most feel that they have to have a solo hero.
Also, I wanted to mention really fast because I forgot to mention it earlier. All of the scenes are just like the quick cuts of all of the women doing labor in the office and showing showing violet and then Judy, once she gets the hang of it of like how hard they're working. And then in the flow of answering calls putting people on hold will be like look in their files. It's such a such a great reminder that there's no such thing as unskilled labor. And even like every single job requires skill, and it requires practice. And it was really, really nice to see that portrayed so well in this movie. Yes. Thank you. All right, our next Our next award you might have guessed is worst politics goes to the character with the worst politics. This might be an easy one. Is there anyone worse than Franklin Hart in this movie?
I felt just systemically Russell tins worthy. Just at the end, I thought that was so we didn't get a lot of time with him. But I can't imagine he's a great, great guy to hang with.
Once he's reached that level of success. He's probably done more societal damage then Franklin hard has and I loved it. Frank
Hart was really turret was like terrified to go off. Yeah,
yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I would, I would if I had to plead my case, to either tense, worthy or heart. I think I'd rather lead it to Jim's work. Oh, I think I might have, I don't know why. Because his words, he has nothing left to prove, you know, heart is still trying to climb the ladder. And for him, so the only way to climb the ladder involves stepping on the heads, you know, stepping on the heads of of everybody below him. We're kids where the clearly is, you know, you could maybe talk him into you know, overthrowing the government in Brazil and making
That's That's true contains worthy could facilitate a coup, whereas heart doesn't have that political juice to do that. Yeah. Okay.
And our last award, which will be really interesting to hear your take on is Best Supporting slash spin off. This goes to the supporting character in this movie that we think it should actually be about or that we want to have their own film centering their story.
I was fascinated by Missy Hart Franklin Hart's wife on her two month long cruise I want to see the store I I imagine that Missy Hart is going on a swingers cruise and is just having the most sexually liberated experience completely unbeknownst to her her like terrible husband, Franklin, who I'm sure is very bad at sex. So I just like that's, that's what I was imagined it was gonna miss. He was just having the best time ever on a swingers cruise while all of this was happening back at the back at their house
can tell you something super interesting before you weigh in. So my original tracks the one where they try to kill them. So they try to kill him, I think three times and fail. They kidnap him, but then he's found dead. And they're blamed for it. And it actually turns out that Missy, came back to town early and kills up had just fucking had enough. I love that. I love that stat that they in 1979. They were like but I just I still here's a super interesting Missy back story possible. So I love I love that you had her on a swingers cruise.
So I was torn. I really liked Maria Delgado. I know she had like a short and I don't know if that would be a comedy. I don't know what that would be. But I loved even just in the small backstory that we got. I think that would be an interesting place to go. Honestly, there were all of the supporting characters were would have been really interesting to follow. Except for maybe dick. I don't know if I need to see Dick's movie. But yeah, I think that would have been an interesting storyline to follow especially because it led to such interest. It had such interesting consequences in like what actually happened in the office and having this like, flexible work schedule and the need for all of these things. I just was like, what is that? What is going on after she gets let go?
So I'd like to see. Margaret, the office lushes. Store? Yes, of course. As as someone who who got sober in the 80s and still is I'm very curious about you know, if it weren't for her, that was a very, very early days of rehab. I think like Betty Ford was just kind of maybe starting there and and I just would love to know, you know who she becomes. And maybe what entertaining ways for alcoholism shows outside of alcoholism. Yeah,
I gotta say every time she said add a girl I fucking lad that really made me laugh. So he's really
brilliant actress was named Peggy Koch. She She sadly is no longer with us. But I mean, she took a little part and just made it in dello. Yeah, yeah,
lo brilliant. Yeah, yeah, actually just a little bit more on that character as well to couch it again, in a political context. Another brilliant thing is that so often you see alcoholics portrayed as only being some sort of individual malady. And this was were introduced to just what there was so much empathy, also, to just the circumstance of like, yeah, if you had such shitty conditions, it wouldn't it might be, she calls itself um, self medicating, really any reaction and response to the circumstance. And then also that the solution could come from a communal solution could like, because your work could maybe help you out in these extenuating circumstances like that could be part of the we could all be in a communal healing, and that there are material efforts that could be made. It's not just a matter of like, well pull yourself up by the bootstraps, right? You know,
yeah, the women, the women cover for her. And the last thing I just wanted to say in terms of capitalism, and nine to five is, there was a point just a little bit before the pandemic, where actually we were going to do a sequel, which I wrote with Rashida Jones and sold to Fox and then Disney bought Fox and it just ended up not happening. But there's so much going on now. Well, now offices have changed again, because endemic but you know, at that in 1979, if you were a secretary in a big firm like that, you could, after a number of years, probably buy a little house like Violet has, you could get you could own a car, you know, maybe it wouldn't be a luxury car, but you could buy a new car, you could support your kids and These women on my guess is there was some sort of health care, there was some kind of a pension if you were there for long enough. No, that's not true. None of those things are true. And all of this, you know, office work turned into, you know, permanent temps, people who are not, they don't have health care, they don't have pensions. They can't even go to HR if your account your your, you know, your shit out of luck. And as far as sexual harassment that just went underground, you couldn't be as blatant as Harvard is, but we all know with, look, it's still it's constantly sell is still happening. You know, Russell Brand's the last person that there's always there's, there's always somebody is always abusing power someplace. And, you know, in in so many ways, I think, as bad as it was then, I think for young people in I mean, I know my son is he's trying to find a studio apartment in LA and is having trouble. And not in like a fantastic area, he's trying to be in trouble finding something for $1,800 or less for a studio. That's absurd. It's criminal. You know, that's just absurd. He works, you know, two jobs full time. And I see that with, you know, a lot of younger writers I know. It's just, it's just very, very rough now. So, you know, again, capitalism out of control a little capitalism, probably a good thing, a lot of capitalism, not, not a good thing,
we would maybe quibble on that even a little is good. But we But your point is absolutely 100% taken,
and thank you for affirming that because I think that's helpful, while it's bleak to hear it affirmed, especially from intergenerationally is and the realities of it are validating and I think sometimes there can be a gaslighting of our it's always been this way or all it's you know, and that can do a lot of damage, because it doesn't allow doesn't allow for, we have to name it so we can grow.
And Patricia, based on everything you just said, I think we need that new nine to five now more than ever, because I think it sounds like you'd have even more to say in that version. So thank you. All right, well, we're gonna have to let you go. This was such again, such this was so wonderful. I know, I love this. Before we go, the last thing we asked our guest is how, as artists and as people, we strive to practice our values in our own lives, whether they are anti capitalist values, feminist values, pro labor values. So is there one thing that you do in your everyday life or a practice, you engage in an organization you work with, that you'd like to share with us?
So, you know, I thought about it, when when you sent me the email and mentioned this, and I thought, well, you know, how do I how do I practice anti capitalism, and other than the strike, which was certainly, I think, a blow to these giant corporations, subsuming, you know, everyone, I think the two were personal ways. It was one, I really tried to mentor younger women, particularly younger women of color, who might have not as much access to the business, I try to mentor them. In terms of writing, there is a organization called unlock her potential. It's up up that was started by this amazing woman named Sophia Chang that if anybody is interested in either being a mentor, and you don't have to be a writer, it can be anything in entertainment. She actually comes out of the music, the music business, or anybody who would like to be a candidate. The other thing I don't know if this exactly fits, but it's it's a it's a big thing for me. I would never buy a dog. I don't think people should make all kinds of money breeding dogs. I don't believe in it. There's too many of them that don't have homes. They're being killed constantly in shelters because there's no room. And so if you want a dog, please, did you not go to a breeder? Go go online, find a rescue, you can find just about anything. Anything you want. And, you know, it's kind of like reusing clothing, you know, get a used dog.
That's a very that's that's a really good one. Thank you.
Yeah, that's it. Wow,
this was such a phenomenal conversation. Really looking forward to sharing this with people was so nice to meet you and learn more about this movie, learn more about you and talk about these politics.
Great meeting you both of you.
Thank you so much for being here. We appreciate it.
Thank you all all so much for listening and make sure to follow us on Instagram and Tiktok and if you want to support the show and get access to our premium episodes, you can go to NBC pod.com to find all of that info.
And for next week's movie, we will be watching the Marxist revolutionary allegory, the animated film ants.