That $10 million Randy Quaid Brokeback Mountain lawsuit filed on Thursday, 3.23 against the makers of this widely honored, very profitable film (i.e., Focus Features, James Schamus, David Linde, Del Mar Productions), now enjoys a certain enhancement by the mere fact that Sharon Waxman has examined its merits in a N.Y. Times story out today (3.29). Boil the snow out of it, and the conclusions are these: (a) Randy Quaid is in no way a whinin’, groanin’ sourpuss actor but in fact has a bright, buoyant attitude about the lawsuit, as amply indicated by the photo that accompanies Waxman’s story; (b) The quality-films-for-cheaper-prices premise of indie “dependent” outfits like Focus Features, Fox Searchlight, Paramount Classics and Warner Independent depends upon producers being able to hire guys like Quaid for shitass fees (i.e., guild minimums); (c) The functioning of this economic system obviously requires an alliance of actors willing to cut their fees for films with substantial arthouse pretensions and/or credentials along with producers looking to exploit these actors for their own economic gain; (d) And yet this same system, essentially founded on a note of spiritual kinship (you and I care about making good films so we’re taking less money…especially the supporting actors, writers and below-the-liners), is ironically protected by standard big-studio accounting practices which have long made the idea of receiving post-release net point compensation (if and when a film goes into substantial profit mode) an industry joke; (e) And yet profit participation deals have been sculpted on smaller films — you just have to be a big-enough actor to rate being offered them. (Waxman’s story quotes “an executive from another arthouse studio” saying that “the most prominent actors [on a film have been] granted bonus fees for successful films, or a cut of the adjusted gross box-office receipts.”) When all is said and done, if you don’t get some kind of profit participation arrangement you’re happy with down on paper before you go to work, you’re not going to badger distributors and/or producers into paying you anything extra down the road. One final thought from a longtime veteran of big-studio operations, addressing the character of the people who negotiated Quaid’s cheapo deal without considering some way of paying him more money if and when Brokeback profits might materialize: “I think they’re pigs.”