Monday, December 17, 2007

Expensive Drama Was a Boondoggle, Union Claims

Rather than a high-profile success, Munhwa Broadcasting Company's recent drama "Taewangsasingi (The Four Guardian Gods of the King)" was nothing but trouble, the network's union claimed in a recent newsletter.

The union said that Bae Yong-jun, who played the leading role, was paid W6 billion (US$1=W924) to star in the series, or W250 million per episode, accounting for some 15 percent of the total production cost of W43 billion. Considering how much of the budget went to the actor, calling the show a "massive-scale" historical series was an exaggeration, the union said.

Bae Yong-jun walks into a venue surrounded by bodyguards during a hand print making event for the Blue Dragon Film Awards in September.

It also denounced the drama for tarnishing the network's reputation by causing programming troubles, citing as an example an incident when MBC had to prolong its live news broadcast for 20 minutes while the network waited for the latest video tape of the show to arrive.

Due to the soaring salaries of television stars, broadcasters started outsourcing the production of dramas several years ago. But now production companies are paying enormous sums to cast top stars in order to secure high ratings, causing production costs to skyrocket.

The criticism by the MBC union is evidence of changes in the status of the major networks as they endure embarrassments caused by high-profile actors or outside production companies.

source : Chosun Ilbo

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