Dear Katherine Heigl,
We have such a minor connection that I almost hestitate to mention it, and I’m sure I’ll never get to say this to you in person. Nevertheless, it does need to be said. I trained hard for a career in film, and made it my life for a little while. I still love "the industry" and the magic it creates, along with the positive uses for the medium by filmmakers everywhere to communicate and educate about important issues.
I have heard your complaints about 17 hour days on the set of Grey’s Anatomy, a show that I do not enjoy but that has — I believe I can say this fairly — made your career, and that of a Mazda racing team owner named Patrick Dempsey. Here is one link about your public complaining on Dave Letterman’s late night show, which has millions of viewers: http://us.imdb.de/news/ni0888476/
You wanted your displeasure to be quite public, because, and I quote: "I hope it embarrasses [the producers of Grey’s Anatomy]." Specifically, you are upset that your character is being written off of this show, and that you have still had to put in at least one (and quite possibly plenty) days that are approaching 20 hours.
As I mentioned previously, I have a love for film. Although I, and the other 98% of the world, will never make anything approaching what you make in a year of industry work, some of us have at one time or another tried our hand at a life in the art form. For those behind the camera, and certainly for those in front as well, it does require 12-17 hour days on a routine basis. This is even the case in commercials, music videos, and independent films. For a very few, it provides a large payoff. For the rest, it hopefully provides a balm to the soul, as it has been said that there’s no better job than doing what you love. It is my impression that you are doing what you love.
But more importantly, Katherine, I’m sure you’ve noticed that the economy in the United States, and indeed in the world, is going through a very bad time. I have always been a hard worker, but in the last year, 16-19 hour days have been routine for me. That includes weekends. And I have no union protection or benefits, which are common in the film industry. But, I enjoy solving problems, making peace, and improving lives, and am happy about the mission of my company.
Sleep is a precious commodity for many, many people across this entire globe, as people work longer hours and multiple jobs to try to make ends meet. For those not lucky enough, layoffs are common. For example, I just experienced the closure of an entire office. Some of those there worked similar hours to your Grey’s Anatomy day, and were given sudden notice that their jobs would be ended, like yours will be. Just one example of the multitude of layoffs that are occuring.
As I alluded to earlier, you are a very fortunate woman, who has found fame on television and in mainstream movies (I believe you have one out as I write this). Although I have not done the math, I am confident that your earnings are in the top 2% of the world economy, if not the top 1%. Katherine, as many even less fortunate than me and far less fortunate than you are struggling to pay healthcare bills, trying to keep their houses, perhaps trying to follow through on promises to provide higher education for their children, they are putting in 17 or more hours a day trying to survive. We must resolve societal problems that cause them to have to nearly kill themselves to meet basic needs, and based on your views of what’s right and wrong, I know that you are interested in that fight.
In the meantime, Katherine, it’s time to stop complaining in public about your long hours, for a wage that is probably six figures per episode, or more than the vast majority of United States citizens will make in two years. I won’t even consider the majority of the third world, whose citizens could live on your single episode wage for a lifetime. You made the choice to mention that your comments on your work schedule would embarrass your employer. But honestly, in the end, I hope this doesn’t embarrass anyone except you.