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Television Q&A: Do actors get paid for reairing shows?

Rich Heldenfels, Tribune News Service on

Published in Entertainment News

You have questions. I have some answers.

Q: I am curious: With SO MANY TV shows being reaired, are payments made to the actors over and over? I understand how they get paid for the initial showing of an episode of "Law & Order" (for example). But we're years after they first aired, and some episodes are being reaired sometimes on multiple channels. Are the actors continuing to receive money?

A: The answer can be complicated, as you can see when reading one of the agreements with performers' union SAG-AFTRA found online. I asked a SAG-AFTRA spokesperson for help and here are the basics. Actors (other than background actors) get paid again when a performance is rerun. In TV's past, those payments ended after a certain number of replays; now they can go on forever -- making those "Law & Order" reruns an annuity for the actors.

As for how much the performers are paid, it varies. Some residuals are tied directly to a specific presentation such as a network telecast, and some residuals are based on a percentage of revenue from the off network sale to cable or secondary digital syndication channels such as Antenna TV. Individual actors may also negotiate their own, better deals. In any case, under current agreements, those payments are in perpetuity.

Q: I think "Council of Dads" is a GREAT show. I hope others respond as well, enough that NBC will change its mind and renew the show. Most TV shows nowadays are not worth watching.

A: Quite a few readers lamented the cancellation of the drama. As I mentioned before, the ratings were disappointing. And NBC had tried to bring viewers to it, for example with a special preview following the season finale of "This Is Us." But it still did not draw enough. (My wife and I gave up after two episodes.) Still, if you want to let NBC know your feelings, it has an online feedback system at www.nbc.com/contact-us.

Q: The new "Magnum P.I." has an actor named Tim Kang who plays Katsumoto. We saw him on another show years back. Was it "The Mentalist"? And will "Magnum" be back?

A: Good memory. Kang's CBS bio lists many credits but says he "is perhaps best known to television audiences for his role as Detective Kimball Cho on 'The Mentalist.' "And yes, "Magnum" has been picked up for another season.

Q: On "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" there was a talented actor named Vincent D'Onofrio. Can you tell us what happened to him? We have never seen him on another show since then.

 

A: Since his last appearance on "Criminal Intent" in 2011, D'Onofrio has made dozens of appearances in movies (for example, the Denzel Washington version of "The Magnificent Seven") and television series across networks and platforms. Among other roles, he has been the Wizard in "Emerald City" on NBC, the villainous Wilson Fisk (aka Kingpin) on "Daredevil" on Netflix, Reverend Dan in Syfy's "Ghost Wars," and an Internal Affairs officer on "Interrogation" on CBS All Access.

Q: Some time back I saw an episode of Carol Burnett's old variety show where she said, "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman." I didn't know what she was referring to. Then I saw you mention "Mary Hartman." Can you tell me what this refers to?

A: "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" was a satire of soap operas that ran in syndication from 1976 to 1978. Produced by Norman Lear, the five-nights-a-week show starred Louise Lasser as the title character, a housewife enduring all sorts of bizarre trials and tribulations. The large cast also included Greg Mullavey, Debralee Scott, Mary Kay Place, Martin Mull and more. When Lasser left, the show's name was changed to "Forever Fernwood." There was also a spinoff, talk-show parody "Fernwood 2-Night," with Mull and Fred Willard, later modified into "America 2-Night." Reruns of "Hartman" have popped up occasionally, although I do not know of a current broadcaster. The complete series has been released on DVD.

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(Do you have a question or comment about entertainment past, present and future? Write to Rich Heldenfels, P.O. Box 417, Mogadore, OH 44260, or brenfels@gmail.com. Letters may be edited. Individual replies are not guaranteed.)

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