Editors note: During the coronavirus-imposed shutdowns and event cancellations that have caused tens of thousands to lose their jobs, Deadline would like to connect suddenly unemployed Hollywood workers, especially in the heavily hit below-the-line field, with new jobs. Is your company hiring? Email details to [email protected]
Not everyone in Hollywood is furloughing workers amid the coronavirus shutdown. Animation house Bento Box Entertainment said Wednesday that it's “in full production” and hiring 20 artisans during the pandemic to work remotely on shows being produced in Burbank, Los Angeles and North Hollywood.
As Deadline reported yesterday, animation has been one area of Hollywood production that has been able to keep the lights on for the most part during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The Fox-owned Bento Box produces the Emmy-winning Fox series Bob's Burgers with 20th Century Fox Television; Paradise PD and Hoops for Netflix; Syfy’s Alien News Desk; and multiple other pilots and presentations. Like VFX and editing companies, Bento Box already has a digital pipeline and workflow system that allows it to bring staff aboard to shoulder extra work, as well as allow its staffers to work remotely.
Bento Box Entertainment
Open freelance production personnel positions posted on its jobs board include many that require applicants to be members of IATSE Animation Guild Local 839, or be willing to join. The jobs for current primetime series and upcoming projects range from episodic director and storyboard artist to background and character designers, supervising director, animation producer, and post-production supervisor.
Over the past two weeks, Disney and Fox Corporation both issued warnings of “adverse impact” from the coronavirus pandemic on their business. Both companies also sold debt securities, raising $6 billion and $1.2 billion, respectively.
Disney, which combines the company’s legacy assets with those acquired in the $71.3 billion Fox acquisition, this week sent an internal memo announcing companywide pay cuts for all executives VP and above.
Meanwhile, Fox Corp., comprised of the assets left behind in the merger, two weeks ago sent an internal memo informing employees the company would be covering everyone’s medical insurance premiums for the next six months. “Your health and safety are our priority during this challenging time,” CFO John Nallen wrote in the memo. “We will continue to look for ways to ease the stress and inconvenience that these circumstances have brought to our daily lives.”
While the sports networks under the Fox Corp. umbrella have been significantly impacted by the suspension of almost all live sports, Fox Entertainment and Fox News have seen their ratings rise, boosted by increased TV viewing as millions of Americans stay at home to help slow the spread of the virus.
Fox News had its highest rated quarter ever in Q1. But’ the cable news network’s role during the pandemic has been widely criticized for underplaying the dangers of the coronavirus early on and for politicizing the outbreak.
Meanwhile, Fox Entertainment organized the first big coronavirus relief special, the Elton John-hosted Fox Presents: The iHeart Living Room Concert For America, which has raised more than $10 million to date. Fox Corp. matched sponsor Procter & Gamble’s $500 million donation and is double matching each donation by a company employee.
Facing deep skepticism a year ago whether it could survive without an affiliated studio following the departure of 20th TV for Disney, the now-independent Fox Entertainment came out of the gate strong, winning the fall in adults 18-49 for the first time in a decade.
And, through the fortunate confluence of events and circumstances, it has now found itself as possibly the most “coronavirus-proof” traditional media company.
While CBS, ABC snd NBC are taking major hits from the cancellation of March Madness and the suspensions of the NBA, NHL seasons and the Summer Olympics, along with a slew of premiere events in other sports like golf and tennis, Fox’s sports schedule for the season has remained largely intact. Postseason baseball and NFL football wrapped before the outbreak hit, and WWE is a rare major sports league to continue to operate as close to normal as possible, keeping Smackdown on Fox’s schedule.
EXCLUSIVE: At a time when every segment of our industry is struggling with layoffs and furloughs because of the coronavirus pandemic, the $9.3 billion owed to many that is just sitting there in a California state Unclaimed Property fund might well come in handy.
The state of California owes the Motion Picture & Television Fund $24,025 — money the MPTF could sorely use right now in its efforts to provide assistance to the industry's suddenly unemployed workforce, while itself dealing with the first COVID-19 outbreak at its skilled nursing facility in Woodland Hills.
The money owed is part of the State Controller's $9.3 billion Unclaimed Property fund, which includes some 48 million separate accounts. The money held in more than 100 MPTF accounts includes forgotten checks, savings accounts, dividends, accounts payable, and commissions that were turned over to the state after sitting idle in banks for more than three years. The eight largest MPTF accounts hold more than $16,000.
“The Controller is safeguarding millions of unclaimed properties for Californians,” Jennifer Hanson, press secretary to State Controller Betty Yee, told Deadline. “From an account that sat dormant for too long, to a final paycheck that never got picked up, people should check to see if any of those properties belong to them. In challenging times, even a small find could make a big difference.”
Because accounts can be spread out over various — and often incorrect — versions of a business' name, they can be difficult to locate on the Controller's searchable database. The MPTF's unclaimed funds are listed under 13 different permutations of the Motion Picture & Television Fund, including those with and without the ampersand, and one under MPRF — the acronym for the Motion Picture Relief Fund, which was the name of the fund when it was founded in 1921.
“We have property-owner advocates to help groups locate multiple properties,” Hanson said. “They're here to help.”
Businesses can get assistance locating and applying for unclaimed funds here.
Many of the industry's other charities and non-profits also have money sitting in the Unclaimed Property fund as well, gathering dust — and no interest. Among them:
• Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation has an uncashed cashier's check for $1,000 • The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation misidentified in the searchable database as the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation is owed $2,702 in dividends • The Sundance Institute has $5,000 in accounts receivable • Women In Film is owed more than $4,000 • The Entertainment Industry Foundation is owed $3,000 • The NAACP Image Awards is owed $2,500 • The Mary Pickford Foundation is owed $1,500 • The American...