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Crazy Rich Asians Screenwriter Wanted Pay Equity, Didn't Get It

So Adele Lim dropped out of the sequel
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 5, 2019 10:25 AM CDT
Adele Lim arrives at the 50th NAACP Image Awards Nominees Luncheon at the Loews Hotel on Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

(Newser) Crazy Rich Asians will have a sequel—but co-screenwriter Adele Lim won't be involved. The veteran TV writer, whose first feature film was Crazy Rich Asians, is exiting the sequel because co-screenwriter Peter Chiarelli was to be paid more. The Hollywood Reporter notes that Chiarelli, an "experienced feature scribe," was brought on board by producers to adapt Kevin Kwan's novel before director Jon M. Chu joined the project and hired Lim. Lim says women and people of color are often considered "soy sauce" on such projects, hired to add certain cultural details to the script rather than do the bulk of the story-crafting. "Being evaluated that way can't help but make you feel that is how they view my contributions," says Lim of the pay disparity, which THR calls "significant."

Sources say Warner Bros.' starting offers were $800,000 to $1 million for Chiarelli and $110,000-plus for Lim, and that execs argued those were established ranges in the industry based on experience. Talks between Lim's reps and the studio went as far as chief Toby Emmerich, but he wouldn't budge and Lim decided to exit. The production company approached her again months later with an offer closer to Chiarelli's (and he had also offered to split his fee with her), but she declined. "Pete has been nothing but incredibly gracious, but what I make shouldn't be dependent on the generosity of the white-guy writer," she says. "If I couldn't get pay equity after CRA, I can't imagine what it would be like for anyone else, given that the standard for how much you're worth is having established quotes from previous movies, which women of color would never have been [hired for]. There's no realistic way to achieve true equity that way." See the full THR story. (Read more gender pay gap stories.)

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