Saturday, June 15, 2024

John Cusack Says Actress Sister Joan Worked Five Seasons on Showtime’s “Shameless,” Won an Emmy, But Left Because of Gender Pay Disparity


Joan Cusack is a beloved actress who’s appeared in countless movies to much acclaim.

Her brother, actor John Cusack — who is properly vocal on Twitter — revealed today that Joan left the Showtime hit, “Shameless,” after five seasons because she was being paid “1/7th of the male lead” — probably William H. Macy. (John doesn’t name Joan, but it’s pretty obvious.)


Joan Cusack was nominated for Emmys for the first four seasons as Sheila, then won in her fifth year. And then she was gone. Sheila was written out, never to be heard from again. This was no doubt her punishment for asking for more money.

Each time Cusack was nominated, and the year she won, it was under “Guest Actor,” not main cast. So she was paid a small guest actor fee for each appearance. Unlike the current Emmy rules, from 2011-2015 Cusack was in 8 episodes for seasons 1 and 2, 12 for season 3. 8 again for season 4. just 3 in her final season. That’s crappy treatment.

On the same show, Emmy Rossum — who had been full time from the beginning — left after 9 seasons because she was paid far less than Macy, her co-star.

But this kind of treatment for TV actresses is common. Marisa Ramirez has been on CBS’s Tom Selleck show, “Blue Bloods,” for 10 years and isn’t even featured in the opening credits. The same is true for another actress on the show, Vanessa Ray, also there for a decade and not in the opening credits. Shocking. (You can only wonder what happened to Amy Carlson when her 7 year contract ended and her character was killed off screen.)

Joan Cusack should be a HUGE star. Since her Emmy, 8 years. she’s worked but not like she should have. This is part of what the SAG AFTRA strike is about. (PS Maybe one day we’ll hear Ellen Barkin’s reason for getting cut as the lead after three seasons of killing it in “Animal Kingdom.”)

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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