It's a gas

The news recently that Adriana Xenides died with no fortune didn’t really suprise me. A modest home (owned), no super, no savings, no investments, living on an invalid pension when she passed in June 2010. I read it expecting Adriana to have had some secret fortune, squirrelled away from her time as a model & TV show hostess.

But why should she? Is being a model/hostess on TV that lucrative? Where does all the money go when it comes to television?

There were times when being a star on a network meant money, position and power. Predominantly through the Kerry Packer years at Nine, your car space & dressing room would indicate how special you were to the network and equate to a healthy payday each fortnight. This, in turn, could allow you to cash in on your popularity & sign deals with all sorts of organisations as spokesperson or ambassador & benefit from their money also. Adriana certainly lived her television life during those times, however it’s unlikely she’d have seen large amounts of money. Sure, she was invited to the right parties and seen at the right events, but there’s no direct link from being a part of the spectacle to bulging paypacket.

While the money is more reasonable (by comparison), network & program stars still receive sizeable incomes. Not unreasonable considering the impact the stars have on the show (no star, no ratings, no show, no profits). The money isn’t necessarily spread around. The creative do well, particularly if it is their company that is delivering the program for a network. Good producers are hard to find, and tend to get snapped up accordingly into decent contracts – that’s not to say there aren’t good producers freelancing (there are), but it’s more an indication that the networks like to lock people in as much as for themselves as to ensuring their competition don’t get the person in question.

The dream factory makes money. Commercial television is still a lucrative business when run well. Just because a star is paid well now doesn’t mean they will be tomorrow or at their next contract negotiation. Just because they are a star doesn’t even mean they are being paid well. That Adriana didn’t have much to her name when she passed away is as much an indication that fortune, like fame, is fleeting & those moments at the top will not keep you warm at night when you’re at the bottom. Certainly her story should be a sober tale promoting good management & wise investment for all stars – current or otherwise.


Image sources: News Limited; Flickr (Creative Commons) .