The Playgoer: Brits vs Yanks: Now it's TV

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Brits vs Yanks: Now it's TV

Do English actors reign supreme on television, as well as stage? Is there a connection?

One important thing to note about Hugh Laurie in "House" and Dominic West in "The Wire"--you can't blame it on the charm of the British accent, cuz they're speakin' 'merican.

Ah, but here's another reason for the British invasion that I haven't heard aired yet. And it probably holds true for stage as well.

They have still another advantage, which only one network executive was willing to mention: They work more cheaply. “It has gotten so expensive to sign American actors,” the executive said, requesting not to be identified because financial terms are never made public.

The executive said it is increasingly difficult to get an American actor in a lead role for less than $100,000 an episode. British actors work for considerably less, the executive said, though the figures vary.

Modesty? Lower expectations of wealth coming from a welfare state? Bad agents?

Look: actors should be paid more, not less. But something about that British stage work ethic--honed during years of rigorous training, small ensemble roles, and poorly paid gigs (all mitigated by National Health Care and a healthy dole, of course)--probably makes them easier to work with than many of those spoiled talentless children in Hollywood.

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