Interns who worked on “Black Swan” sue their “employer”

Interns who worked on “Black Swan” sue their “employer” (photo)

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I think we found the plotline for “Horrible Bosses 2!” The New York Times reports that two former interns have filed a lawsuit against Fox Searchlight, claiming that their “employment” on the production of “Black Swan” constituted a violation of minimum wage and overtime laws. One plaintiff, Alex Footman, states his responsibilities “included preparing coffee for the production office, ensuring that the coffee pot was full, taking and distributing lunch orders for the production staff, taking out the trash and cleaning the office.”

Yep, sounds like an internship all right.

The whole thing boils down to whether or not not paying someone to make your coffee constitutes breaking the law. As it turns out, there are federal rules about unpaid internships. The Times lists the criteria, which demand that:

“…the position benefit the intern, that the intern not displace regular employees, that the training received be similar to what would be given in an educational institution and that the employer derive no immediate advantage from the intern’s activities.”

If the plaintiffs can prove that their “Black Swan” internships broke those rules, they’ve got a case. I’m not a legal expert, but I’m not sure they do. I am something of an expert on internships, though, since I had plenty of them in my day. If Mr. Footman’s internship is illegal, then so are the vast majority of internships in the film business. Making coffee, ordering lunch, taking out the garbage, making deliveries, that’s what film internships are. In most cases, they’re degrading, boring, and soul-crushing (to read more about my own internship experiences, check out this piece I wrote a few years ago for The Village Voice.)

My advice to any current or future interns out there is two-fold: don’t stick around if you feel like you’re wasting your time, and don’t do something for free that other people around you are getting paid to do. For example, at one internship I had, I worked my butt off, and got lots of compliments and appreciation, but when a low-level paid position opened up at the company — a position that I had performed when the guy leaving the job was sick — I wasn’t even invited to apply. That’s when I knew it was time to leave. At another internship, I was invited to write script coverage, which are brief summaries and reviews of scripts that allow development executives to decide whether or not they want to hire screenwriters without actually reading their work. Again, I worked hard at it and was praised for my work. But then I noticed they were having me write coverage regularly without paying me the $50 a pop they gave their “professional” coverage writers. Not long after that, I pulled the ripcord.

Good internships do exist. I got my foot in the door at IFC through an internship, and even before I was getting paid to write for IFC.com — which didn’t take long — I was copy editing, pitching articles, and sitting in on editorial meetings. I never once made coffee and I never once fetched someone’s lunch. For every valuable internship, though, there’s five more looking to take advantage of the fact that so many people want to get a job in the movie industry that they’ll do anything to to make it a reality. Just remember: in the real world, garbage men are paid extra to clean up the trash, because it’s a crummy job no one wants to do.

What’s your worst internship experience? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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Draught Pick

Sam Adams “Keeps It Brockmire”

All New Brockmire airs Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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From baseball to beer, Jim Brockmire calls ’em like he sees ’em.


It’s no wonder at all, then, that Sam Adams would reach out to Brockmire to be their shockingly-honest (and inevitably short-term) new spokesperson. Unscripted and unrestrained, he’ll talk straight about Sam—and we’ll take his word. Check out this new testimonial for proof:

See more Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC, presented by Samuel Adams. Good f***** beer.

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