According to a tax filing that just popped up on the Guidestar monitoring service, Boone Isaacs — who in her day job is a marketing consultant — has been logging 24 hours a week at the Academy and its related foundations, for total reportable compensation of zero. Having watched her on the festival circuit (most recently in Toronto), at the Governors Awards, on the Oscars broadcast, and in at least some of her quieter efforts to keep the Academy from buckling under the weight of public criticism, I think the work-week estimate is low.
A year earlier, Boone Isaacs reported working 28 hours weekly for exactly the same pay. Dawn Hudson, the Academy’s paid chief executive, meanwhile, squeaked out a 2% pay hike for her 45-hour work week, to $616,176 in reportable compensation, from $604,550 the year before.
In the real world, Hudson’s compensation might seem generous; but in Hollywood, it is hardly an eye-opener. Christopher Dodd, CEO of the MPAA, pulled down more than five times as much — $3,284,882, to be precise — in reportable compensation for a 42-hour work week in the year ended December 31, 2014, according to that organization’s tax filing.
In fact, at least four MPAA executives out-earned Hudson that year, so a separate discussion about paycheck equality at the Hollywood nonprofits might be in order.
But even within the Academy, Boone Isaacs and her immediate predecessors, Hawk Koch and Tom Sherak, have managed to create a gap between productivity and pay that, at some point, should probably be closed. Granted, there are perks: Travel, a nice office, the chance to rub shoulders with fancy people. Still, recent occupants have turned the presidency of a rapidly expanding Academy — with hundreds of employees, thousands of members, and a major museum construction project on its hands — into a real job. They put in long hours, and take plenty of heat when things go wrong, as when the #OscarsSoWhite controversy all but derailed the last awards ceremony.
But they work at an absurd discount not just to their market value as film industry professionals, but to the rest of the Academy staff. According to that latest tax filing, seven Academy executives made between $173,470 (for a digital media director) and the $600,000-plus earned by Hudson.
At California’s current minimum wage of $10 an hour, Boone Isaacs — assuming her own modest tally of hours is correct — would be entitled to about $50,000 for her four-year tenure. As the Los Angeles County minimum wage creeps toward $12 an hour on July 1, 2017, she might get her pay, even at those rates, out to $15,000 a year.
She and her successors — unless they break with recent precedent, by ceding all but a ceremonial role to the paid staff — will surely be worth that, and more.