Fab Five’s Fortunes Rise

Sep 29, 2003  •  Post A Comment

The Fab Five-Kyan Douglas, Carson Kressley, Thom Filicia, Jai Rodriguez and Ted Allen of Bravo’s “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”-just capped off a week of public cavorting and private posturing with a potential deal on the table from Bravo that could put as much as $400,000 in each maven’s finely tailored pockets next season.
Bravo’s leading men, who wowed viewers and celebrity fans at the Emmys and post-parties, are likely to see their fortunes rise much like their stars have risen. Bravo has made a deal with Scout Productions to produce a second season of “Queer Eye” consisting of 40 episodes of the red-hot cable hit-twice the number of episodes in the freshman season. In addition, sources said, the cast’s reps are working with Bravo on a deal that would give the Fab Five a per-episode salary increase from their initial $3,000-per-episode fee to somewhere between $6,000 and $10,000 an episode.
That could settle any discontent within the ranks of the reality series, which was the subject of newspaper articles last week indicating the cast had grown unhappy with its current deal. The last seven episodes of the first season are set to be taped in coming weeks as part of an earlier deal.
David Collins, “Queer Eye’s” co-creator and executive producer, told TelevisionWeek that when the show was first produced, it was considered “just another cable reality show” and therefore the original salaries were appropriate. Since the rise of the show has been so meteoric, with the Fab Five going from television debut to rock-star status in mere weeks, Mr. Collins said it should not be surprising that the sudden popularity might take time to affect the cast’s paychecks. The mechanics of business among NBC, Bravo and Scout do not move faster than the speed of media hype, he said.
“It’s unfortunate it’s been getting played out in public,” Mr. Collins said. “But with the show’s success, everybody will be taken care of appropriately-and that’s all there is to say about that.”
NBC has sold the series as well as its format internationally and some expect the distributor to earn $15 million to $20 million on the initial sale of the hour-long show with deals ranging from Australia to England. In addition, after scoring “strong” ad buys on Bravo and in prime time over the summer on NBC because of the popularity of the show, agents for the quintet were quick to point out that the hosts of the series were underpaid. (NBC is expected to continue repurposing episodes.)
“The cleaning ladies here made more money than they did,” one source close to the Fab Five said. “It was absolutely ridiculous that we had to even fight for it the way we did, considering they put that channel on the map.”
Agents are making sure the cast is taken care of in other ways. A $1.23 million book deal is already in place for the fivesome, and they have signed a deal to jointly promote a women’s product for advertisers. The quintet also is scheduled to appear in the second episode of sophomore NBC comedy “Good Morning, Miami.”
Individually, members of the group are earning at least $50,000 for speaking engagements. Food maven Mr. Allen scored an endorsement deal with General Mills, Mr. Filicia is discussing a way to create his own line of furniture, and insiders said Mr. Kressley could soon see some time behind the microphone as a style analyst for some news shows.
The flurry of interest surrounding the Fab Five’s compensation has been nearly as intense as the interest in the reality stars themselves.
It became clear during Emmy weekend that the Fab Five are some of the biggest stars in the television business right now-perhaps even bigger than the slew of highly paid, statuette-toting actors who requested photos with them after the awards show. One of the most telling moments was the point at which Ray Romano, who is earning an estimated $40 million for this season of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” approached them for a photo at HBO’s after-party. The Five likewise turned heads at the “Entertainment Tonight” party and were approached by a constant stream of civilian fans Friday night before the Emmys at the Avalon Hotel bar in Los Angeles, where they stayed for the weekend.
The Fab Five also rubbed elbows with many other TV big shots on the crowded red carpet of the Emmy Awards, where they were on assignment for NBC Enterprises’ “Access Hollywood” on Emmy night. It was a tall order for a group of guys who had little or no television experience until a few short months ago. The group, however, made it through the crush relatively unscathed. They were slighty tardy after the Hummer limo they were scheduled to ride in had problems with its air-conditioning system and had to be replaced by a traditional white ride. Mr. Kressley, like so many Emmy guests over the years, misplaced some jewelry, a diamond piece from a borrowed watch, for which “Access” is making an insurance claim.
“It was actually a thrill for all of us-from going to the red carpet to going to the Emmys, to the Governor’s Ball,” Mr. Collins said. “Carson made sure we all looked phenomenal. At the Governor’s Ball, we got to spend time with the NBC and Bravo family. Everybody from [NBC Entertainment President] Jeffrey Zucker to [NBC’s exec VP in charge of alternative programs and Bravo President] Jeff Gaspin was hanging out with them.”
Melissa Grego contributed to this report.