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Hollywood Internships in Limbo After 'Black Swan' Ruling Against Fox Searchlight

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood June 20, 2013 at 2:17PM

A June 11 court hearing has ruled that Fox Searchlight violated labor laws by not paying two interns on the set of Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan." This might put the future of the Hollywood internship into permanent limbo. Per the Hollywood Reporter, college credit -- the long-accepted form of "payment" for interns' work -- is now scaring off Hollywood employers worried about possible future lawsuits.
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"Black Swan"
"Black Swan"

A June 11 court hearing has ruled that Fox Searchlight violated labor laws by not paying two interns on the set of Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan." This might put the future of the Hollywood internship into permanent limbo. Per the Hollywood Reporter, college credit -- the long-accepted form of "payment" for interns' work -- is now scaring off Hollywood employers worried about possible future lawsuits. 

Paying minimum wage to interns may not even be enough, as overtime hours could trigger Social Security Tax payments under the new Affordable Care Act. This extra expense plus the hassle of dealing with a lawsuit if interns aren't paid may be enough to cause production companies to shut down internship programs altogether.

In 2010, Alex Footman and Eric Glatt were interning on the set of "Black Swan," tracking purchases, making photocopies and other familiar intern activities. Reportedly a union rep at the production complained that the interns were performing tasks that should have been assigned to a staffer. Footman and Glatt eventually sued for not receiving monetary compensation.

This article is related to: News, Black Swan, News


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.