Words and phrases used, devised or overheard during my negotiations in the entertainment business. I encourage colleagues to email me any new words or phrases not provided below.
Above-the-line Def.: Refers to the so-called above-the-line line items in a budget breakdown of a production, primarily if not totally comprised of payments to Creatives. See Below-the-line.
Ask Def.: The proposed term(s) or starting point in negotiations made by one side to the other.
Below-the-line Def.: Refers to the so-called below-the-line line items in a budget breakdown of a production, primarily if not totally comprised of payments to crew people and non-Creative expenses. See Above-the-line.
Bird Dog(ing) Def.: Keeping an eye on or supervising a deal until it closes.
Ceiling Def.: (Origin of usage unknown) contract drafting term used to describe the maximum amount payable within a percentage range. Usage: “Writer will be paid an amount equal to two percent of the budget with a ceiling of two hundred thousand dollars.” See Floor.
Chazer Def.: (Yiddish) literally, a pig but used to describe a greedy, overly aggressive person or exhibiting such behavior during negotiations.
“Cinderella Deal” Def.: (Origin Unknown) the ideal outcome for a party in negotiations.
Creative Def.: (Origin of usage unknown) writer, producer, director, actor or other creative individual. Usually one of several above-the-line personnel on a project.
Counter-productive Def.: See Chazer
Deal Fatigue Def.: (Origin unknown) the point in protracted negotiations where one or more of the parties either close on terms that they might not otherwise agree upon just to get the deal done or are prepared to terminate negotiations despite any benefits that may come from closing the deal.
Draconian or Aggressive or Oppressive Def.: See Chazer
“Drinking From The Trough Of Distrust” Def.: (Origin: Me) the point in which negotiations become so polarized that they have the potential to irrevocably damage the business relationship between the principals.
Ego Nickel Def.: (Origin unknown) a deal point of minimal value to the giving party but significant enough to the receiving party that they in turn compromise on another deal point desired by the giving party. Also, a deal point or compromise that allows the receiving party to save face.
Floor Def.: (Origin of usage unknown) contract drafting term used to describe the minimum amount payable within a percentage range. Usage: “Writer will be paid an amount equal to two percent of the budget with a floor of WGA scale plus ten percent.” See Ceiling.
Hinky Def.: (Origin unknown) erratic, overly exuberant, irrational and sometimes self-destructive behavior by one or more principals in the presence of or after money has been offered on a project but before an agreement is in place between the parties; usually counter-productive to negotiations or to ultimately closing a deal.
“I can’t recommend that.” Def.: “No” but can sometimes mean “Let me check with my client first.”
No-Quote Def.: (Origin unknown) departure from a Creative’s current salary history in the entertainment business or other deal point in an agreement in which either the company or the Creative has precedent. The Creative’s Rep doesn’t want the less favorable deal point used in a negotiation of a subsequent deal or provided to third parties as the Creative’s quote. Likewise, the company may depart from its precedent but requires that the Rep not use the deal point against the company in subsequent negotiations (though Reps frequently do anyway). Usage: “This is a no-quote deal” See Quote.
“Not Acceptable” Def.: No.
OK Def.: “Yes, but I reserve the right to change my mind.”
Pig or Piggish Def.: See Chazer
Pregnant Def.: (Origin of usage unknown) limited or no leverage in a negotiation because the party has already made a significant (and usually irrevocable) commitment to the deal.
Pre-negotiated Def.: “Take it or leave it” on the first draft of a deal or round of discussions.
Quote Def.: (Origin of usage unknown) Current salary history in the entertainment business. Frequently used by the Rep giving the quote as the starting point or floor of negotiations. Likewise, Reps for the employer can justify giving a certain amount of compensation because the employee has precedent for such fees. Quotes sometimes apply to non-monetary deal points such as engagement of an assistant, size of a dressing room, etc. Usage: “What’s your client’s quote for writing similar work?” See No-quote.
Rep Def.: Agent, lawyer, manager or other individual representing a principal.
Suit. (Origin of usage unknown) Rep, banker or non-Creative individual associated with management at an entertainment business affiliated company. See Rep.
“Talk Tachlis” Def.: (Yiddish/English Derivative) “Let’s get to the bottom of this”
Take Def.: The minimum acceptable negotiation point. Frequently employed by foreign sales agents along with Ask to provide producers with the predetermined and confidential range of their negotiations.
Updated: May 19, 2010