The hoo-ha over Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand’s pre-recorded assault on the answerphone of Andrew Sachs has spilled over into a debate in today’s Times about whether presenters will earn as much money in the predicted straitened times post credit crunch and the global impact of such anarchic behaviour in a more tight-fisted entertainment world.
“Mark Borkowski, who represents Noel Edmonds, said: ‘We’ve just passed through the over-inflated times. Ross has a huge following and the audiences love him, but with controversy like this the commercial broadcasters don’t want to annoy their advertisers.’
“But any decision to try to drop Ross may have unwelcome consequences, Mr Borkowski said. The presenter is represented by Addison Creswell, whose firm, Off The Kerb, also has on its books such in-demand stars as the comedians Jack Dee and Jo Brand. Mr Borkowski said: ‘Addison Cresswell has a stellar cast of talent that all broadcasters want. When you have a roll call of talent like that in your stable, you have huge bargaining power. Would you want to go into battle with that?’
“Ross has said that he has an affinity with the BBC and that he enjoys the fact that he can both appear on television, on his Friday Night With Jonathan Ross show, as well as his Radio 2 Saturday show. Were he to leave the BBC, he could look to follow the lead of Ricky Gervais, who has laid claim to the title of producing the world’s most downloaded podcast, independently of any broadcaster, with an average of 295,000 per episode. After establishing the success of the format, Gervais resolved to charge £4 for four instalments of the programme.
“Russell Brand does not enter the same league as Ross when it comes to pay, and is thought to pick up about £200,000 a year for his radio show.
“He has carefully cultivated a following in the US, where his foppish image has met with bemusement and celebration in equal measure. Last month, however, he angered many Americans by describing President Bush as a ‘retarded cowboy’ as he hosted the MTV Video Music Awards.
“‘They are a lot more anxious about these things over in the US,’ Mr Borkowski said. ‘This controversy will pedal across the water.’”
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