East of Eden: Viewers up, paychecks down
The actors of MBC’s Monday-Tuesday drama East of Eden, including star Song Seung-heon, are taking a pay cut — as much as 50% from their current pay rates.
The drama boasts a large cast of name actors — Yeon Jung-hoon, Yoo Dong-geun, Lee Mi-sook, Jo Min-ki, Lee Yeon-hee, Lee Da-hae, Han Ji-hye, Park Hae-jin — all of whom are pulling in lead-actor rates. Those add up quickly in what is already a high-budget production (approx 25 billion won).
Perhaps the actors are feeling secure now that Eden has established itself as a ratings success. For those who aren’t already A-list, this drama will likely shoot them up in that range (Yeon Jung-hoon, for instance, playing Dong-wook, or the young ladies; they’re on the rise, but this ought to solidify their places in the next generation of young actresses). One unnamed actor explained, “East of Eden is a project I chose because I had faith in the drama’s quality, writer, and director, more than because of the acting fee.”
A production team member said, “It’s a difficult feat to get this many actors of this caliber acting together, and thanks to the care they’ve poured into the drama, East of Eden has been able to receive this kind of love.”
Also, Song Seung-heon has volunteered to return his pay and receive it after the show ends, saying, “These days, a lot of dramas run into difficulties while filming because of sudden increases in production costs. I can receive my pay later, if that means our production process can continue smoothly.”
I say: It’s a small gesture on the part of the megastar (who no doubt isn’t hurting for cash), but a fabulous thing for his PR.