Guest Author - Alice Rienzo
It seems that we, as viewers, put more stock and energy into a "contract" than those in the world of daytime dramas. Although an actor may be contracted for a certain number of years, the contracts typically run in thirteen-week cycles. In other words, at the end of thirteen weeks, viewers may not see their favorite actor again. Alternately, the contract cycle for some veteran soap stars runs in twenty-six week cycles.
However, a shortened contract does not mean that the actors are not paid for services not rendered. On the contrary, they are paid a minimum number of works days per week whether they have worked or not. Typically, all soap stars are only guaranteed one to three days of work per week; the same is true for some veterans on the shows. Therefore financially speaking, some weeks may be good and others may not. Of course, the longer actors remain on a show, the more money they may incur per episode, and the more likely they will be guaranteed an increased number of steady workdays.
Newcomers generally start out their careers as soap stars making around $700 per episode while veterans (those who have been on soap operas for ten or more years) may make anywhere from $1,300 - $4,000 per episode. In some cases, the finally figure may be significantly more than $4,000 per episode. Daytime contracts have a one to three day per week guarantee and are paid for one to three shows per week, regardless of whether or not they work. If they work more than their one to three per week guarantee, they are reimbursed at the end of the year.
On the other hand, actors must carefully consider their options before entering into a contract. Actors cannot arbitrarily step out of their contracts at will. Doing so is a violation of the rules set forth by the Screen Actor's Guild. If an actor does not fulfill his or her contract, that would be sufficient reason for a lawsuit. It seems that the association has covered itself, but is free to conduct itself contrary to how it wishes to be treated.