NBC's 'Today' Gives Voice to Class Envy in Hollywood

     Hollywood usually gets a pass from the media’s participation in promoting class envy, but NBC’s Michael Okwu found a way to attack A-list Hollywood celebrities: their voiceover work for TV commercials.

     “Over the last five years, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the use” of those celebrities, Panasonic advertising executive Bob Greenberg told Okwu on the July 5 “Today” show.

     The problem, according to Okwu?

     “Non-famous, career voiceover artists must audition with hundreds of competitors” and “they earn union scale, about $400 plus residuals,” Okwu noted before bringing out a successful voiceover artist to complain about the pay disparity.

     “Let’s put it this way, there are some people that are making a million dollars an hour,” announcer Tom Kane griped. Okwu told viewers Kane is paid “a lot less.”

     “Just go make your movies. Let us do our commercials and no one gets hurt,” Kane told Okwu.

     But Kane is far more successful than the average union dues-paying announcer and he himself has starred in a few animated movies.

     A look at Kane’s professional Web site and his profile at the Internet Movie Database (imdb.com), tell of a career voicing over television shows, video games, and trailers to movies such as “Booty Call,” “Ice Age 2,” and “Jimmy Neutron.”

     And despite Kane’s gripe about actors staying out of his profession, the announcer for the 2006 Oscars has himself taken a stab at acting, from various cartoons on children’s television to at least two major animated movies: 2002’s “The Powerpuff Girls” and in 1998’s “The Wild Thornberrys.”

     Okwu’s reporting is reminiscent of when the Business & Media Institute noticed CNN’s Andy Serwer praising actress (and AOL commercial voiceover artist) Julia Roberts for earning her money “the old-fashioned way” while bashing corporate executives for “getting paid for a pulse.”