Lena Dunham wasn’t going to pay any of the other artists on her book tour


Lena Dunham’s book tour begins today. She wrote the memoir/advice book Not That Kind of Girl, which she’s been promoting all over the place for the past few weeks. She’s had glowing write-ups in the New York Times and People Magazine already, and I imagine there’s more to come. The NYT also wrote a preview of Lena’s 11-city book tour a few days ago, and they made it sound less like a book tour and more like a concentrated “festival” with other kinds of entertainment featured at each stop. Except the other entertainers wouldn’t be getting paid?

Last month, the writer, actor and producer Lena Dunham started an ambitious project. Nearly 600 people responded to an open call for video auditions on her website, including a sand artist, a ukulele player, a cappella singers, gymnasts, performance artists and stand-up comics, even some exceptionally charismatic babies. The seven who made the final cut won’t be making cameos in “Girls,” Ms. Dunham’s HBO show about Brooklyn 20-somethings. Instead, they’ll be the warm-up acts — performing free of charge — on an elaborately produced, 11-city tour to promote Ms. Dunham’s new book, “Not That Kind of Girl.”

“Three of the videos were disturbing, but the rest were super awesome,” Ms. Dunham said, adding that she spent several hours screening the auditions in bed.

In an era when author tours and splashy book parties have grown increasingly rare, Ms. Dunham has organized a traveling circus of sorts that seems more like a roving Burning Man festival than a sober, meet-the-author literary event. Prominent comedians and writers, such as the “Portlandia” star Carrie Brownstein and the novelist Zadie Smith, have thrown their weight behind Ms. Dunham and will appear on her tour as part of a carefully curated cast of artists, along with live music, poetry readings and, naturally, food trucks.

“I found the idea of a traditional author tour, where you go and stand behind the lectern and talk about yourself, I found it a little bit embarrassing, a little blatantly self-promotional and a little boring,” Ms. Dunham said. “I wanted it to have an arts festival feel, which is why we now have all these remarkable, special weirdos who I found on the Internet.”

Ms. Dunham’s critics are likely to see these highly produced spectacles as an over-the-top marketing stunt or yet another example of her inflated sense of self as an artist. Her fans are lining up, though. In less than a week, the tour sold around 8,000 tickets, which are selling for $38 at most locations. Tickets include a $28 signed hardcover of “Not That Kind of Girl,” which Random House is releasing on Tuesday.

[From The NYT]

Gawker pointed out that it’s a douche move to not pay the other performers at all, especially considering Special Snowflake Dunham got a $3.5 million advance for the book, plus she’ll get royalties and such. And this whole festival atmosphere was her idea. So after Gawker pointed out Lena’s douche move, she got on Twitter to explain:

As an artist raised by artists, no one believes more than I do that creators should be fairly compensated for their work.

This feature of the tour was meant to be a way to showcase local talent and I could not be more excited about it.

Some good points were raised and I’ve ensured that all opening acts will be compensated for their time, their labor and their talents.

The fact that Gawker pointed this out really proves Judd Apatow’s saying that “a good note can come from anywhere.”

[From Lena’s Twitter]

“The fact that Gawker pointed this out really proves Judd Apatow’s saying that ‘a good note can come from anywhere’”??? Brilliant save, Lena. You can’t tell me she didn’t know that the artists weren’t being paid and she only “ensured” their pay after Gawker pointed it out. And Lena still acts like she has the moral high ground, like she’s deigning to listen to advice from the peasants at Gawker.


Photos courtesy of WENN.

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70 Responses to “Lena Dunham wasn’t going to pay any of the other artists on her book tour”

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  1. Miss Jupitero says:

    Yep. She’s pulling an Amanda Palmer, she is.

    • starrywonder says:

      Sigh. She really is. She is just so annoying I just need a new word for her.

    • lana86 says:

      she is somewhat talented, and she is so many times smarter than the majority of Hollywood, that I forgive her being exhausting. And a brilliant reply to Gawker! I’m gonna use it!

    • Mia V. says:

      She’s a dumbass who said something smart once and everybody started to praise as a “genius”.

      • lana86 says:

        She is no genius by far, not even a good writer but she IS intelligent. She might be annoying and self absorbed, but she’s very eloquent and no fool. Why do u call her dumb ass? R u surrounded by rocket scientists in your daily life and therefore have such a high bar, lol?

      • Mia V. says:

        @lana86: she may be intelligent, but everytime she opens her mouth she seems dumb to me.

    • Kat says:


      Amanda Palmer is a douchecanoe. So is Lena.

  2. Abbott says:

    No offense to Ben Affleck, but when I go to a book event I want to listen to the author talk about said book, not some lady singing last year’s summer jam while playing plastic cups in a jumpsuit.

  3. Kiddo says:

    Great. Arianna Hypocrite Huffington 2.0.

  4. tinyfencer says:

    She needs to simply close her mouth for good. And I am only partially referring to that slack jawed, gaping mouth expression she affects in every photo.

  5. TX says:

    If it were someone else I may buy that she didn’t know, but she seems to be a control freak. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but she is in charge of her empire from the top down. I don’t believe she wasn’t involved in the discussion about how much to compensate the artists from the beginning.

  6. PixieWitch says:

    She looks good from the ankles down… (i am loving those boots)

  7. InvaderTak says:

    Can we put a fork in her feminist-writer voice-of-a-generation reputation yet? She’s just like everyone else. There’s nothing progressive or new about her at all.

    • Sarah says:

      The idea of Lena as a feminist is interesting. I like Girls, but there’s nothing empowering about Lena in general. Lena’s whole schtick is a woman doing it for herself, except she’s not, much like Hannah. Lena defers to Judd Apatow and invokes his name and influence at every opportunity.
      Her characters are often in degraded states.

  8. Snazzy says:

    I just do not understand the hype surrounding this girl. Am I the only one who finds her uninteresting at best?

  9. Val says:

    God she is beyond obnoxious and irritating.

  10. Ag says:

    what a GIANT a-hole. so, she was going to use these people and not pay them? AND had to have an outside party point it out to her to realize it’s a $hitty move? bull$hit. she’s just covering her poorly-clad a$$. what a load of crap.

  11. Rhiley says:

    I realize this girl has her defenders and her lovers and her admirers, but I just can’t jump on the Lena bandwagon. It kills me that she thinks she is the voice of her generation. Well, maybe not her generation, but a generation. She thinks that she is the voice of a generation. I hate how she refers to herself as an artist as well. Sure on the surface I guess she qualifies, but in my opinion her art is pretty shallow.

  12. pretty says:

    wow she’s insufferable. i actually really liked the show Girls (season 1)and was really impressed that she directs,writes and acts on it and they were all good! and then read her racist essay about her trip to Japan , eh.. meh.. yeah she sounded ignorant but this is just hypocritical of her and her tweet makes me eye roll so hard.

    • TX says:

      I liked season 1 as well but couldn’t get through season 2 and haven’t seen it since. Seems like she bought into her own hype some time ago and stuff like this is the byproduct.

  13. Steph says:

    Lena probably thought all artists had wealthy families like her and that their art is their hobby. No biggy/sarcasm!

  14. db says:

    Obnoxious, not paying the performers. No doubt Lena feels having “worked” for her is compensation enough. I like her work, but can’t help looking back with longing at the days when talented writers like Lena STAYED BEHIND THE SCENES.

  15. Belle Epoch says:

    I wonder what other “artists” she selected? I’m thinking she will not want anyone who outshines her. Selling tickets to a book signing is a new trick – line ‘em up and make ‘em pay, not only for the book but for the chance to see talent discovered by Lena on her laptop. So lame.

  16. kri says:

    I’m going to go with the line from the article that says “her over-inflated sense of herself as an artist”. If only I had known about this, I would have sent her the video of my facial expressions and comments when I watched “Girls” for the first (and last) time. Maybe she would have appreciated my performance. Put her on Unbearable Island, please.

    • mimif says:

      I think the OG Kitten has a super powered button that irrevocably launches people into outer space. If she’d hurry up and make an appearance, maybe she could put it to good use.

  17. lucy2 says:

    There’s no way she didn’t know they weren’t being paid, and no way she knew that wasn’t wrong. It’s gross that it took a gossip site pointing it out for her to actually pay people for their work, especially when she has already been paid and will continue to be.

    Have to laugh at her thinking a standard book tour is “too self promotional”. As far as I can see, she never talks about anything but herself.

    • JenniferJustice says:


    • Tiffany :) says:

      I don’t know, though. Usually payment is handled through an agency/business management office/legal team, and they would have looked to labor laws to determine the compensation, drafted agreements, etc. I REALLY doubt that she was the one making decisions about how much they would be paid, gathering their identification and making judgments about being a W2 or 1099.

  18. Ms.AnneThropic says:

    I found the idea of a traditional author tour, where you go and stand behind the lectern and talk about yourself, I found it a little bit embarrassing, a little blatantly self-promotional and a little boring,” Ms. Dunham said.

    Because full frontal nudity on your own show isn’t.

    I wonder when we’ll see Carrie’s tits on Portlandia? Probably in a Feminist Bookstore skit next season.

  19. Ally says:

    I’m wondering if she points out Gawker because of the story that just came out re: Gawker having unpaid interns and going to court over not paying them. A bit hypocritical considering Gawker’s history of going after others for not paying interns, etc

  20. Eli says:

    I like Lena Dunham. I will be purchasing her book. However, it’s not cool that she wasn’t planning on paying the features on her book tour. It looks bad. I’m happy for the artists that this was resolved and they are getting paid for their time and talents.

  21. G says:

    Yeah I can’t with her anymore and Uncle Fester wants his wig back.

  22. paola says:

    If her parents weren’t the one responsible of buying her a career she would be thinking with a completely different set of neurons.
    From what she says it seems like she has none though.

  23. JenniferJustice says:

    Don’t like this woman. Too many people have told her she’s smart and as usual it’s gone to her head. She is simply a very homely awkward girl who played a quirky cute role in a quirky cute series. That’s it. Einstein she is not. Why can’t we praise a person for their good qualities w/out turning them into some kind of hero and pontificating about “real beauty”? There is/never was anything beautiful about this woman. She is actually quite horrid.

  24. Dotty says:

    She is absolutely insufferable.

  25. GirlyGirl says:

    They made fun of her haircut, so she’s not paying them due to hurt feelings

  26. jwoolman says:

    Did she make it clear that they would get just free room and board and travel when they applied? If yes, I don’t really see the problem. Nice if you can also get some money for it, but money isn’t the only reason people want to do such things. It gives them an interesting experience and if they want paying gigs- some exposure that could lead to more for them.

    Same with unpaid internships. Nice to get paid, but the opportunities for a learning experience are much broader if they are unpaid. People do them for the experience and the chance to add something relevant to their resume. It’s an extension of schooling, except the student doesn’t have to pay for it. As long as everyone clearly knows the situation going into it, an unpaid internship is not evil or immoral. Places will take on unpaid interns much more readily, despite total lack of experience, than paid staff. People who want paid positions will apply for those.

    I worked for some research groups on an unpaid basis in grad school because I wanted the lab experience. I had general support from a fellowship, but that did not require me to do anything but take courses. If I insisted on getting paid for my lab work, the research budgets wouldn’t have allowed it and I wouldn’t have been able to do it. In one case, that led to some actual paying work on a project since I was a known quantity by then. Later I had a research assistantship, but that was when I was working directly on my degree and the department arranged them for everybody past coursework as a normal expense. It’s just an extension of the old apprenticeship idea. If people have to be paid what the work is worth on the open market- the jobs won’t be there and the experience will be missed. Sometimes there’s money for it, sometimes there’s not.

    • paola says:

      I am firmly against every form of unpaid job. If I am working i deserve to be paid. Period.
      All the rest are bullshit excuses for people who take advantage of other people’s needs and time.
      Especially if the person that doesn’t pay you is a multimillionaire by the age of 25 and should just know best. Again, as I said upthread, If Lena didn’t get a career bought by her famous parents she would probably be on the other side of the fence, judging the people she now defends.
      It’s all very nice and unrealistic when you say ‘the opportunities for a learning experience are much broader if they are unpaid’ but the reality of the facts is that you need money to survive. This is the reason we have so many frustrated people out there, so many have to work 2 jobs to have a decent life and pay their bills.

    • lucy2 says:

      I agree that internships and experience can be very beneficial, but there are pretty strict Dept. of Labor guidelines that separate those from an employment situation, to protect people from being taken advantage of.
      To me this seems like it’s an employment situation, since the tour is charging for tickets (aren’t they generally free and are done to sell books?) and earning revenue off of it. I’d assume everyone else on the tour (the manager, the bus driver, the guy sweeping up at the end of the night) is being paid for their work, so it’s odd to me that the opening acts wouldn’t be as well.

      Even if everyone knew up front and agreed to no pay, she as an “artist” should have valued their work enough to offer something – far too often artists are expected to give their work for free. These are all local acts and each stop features a different opener, so they aren’t having any room and board or travel expenses paid.

  27. Hawkeye says:

    The following comments that I’ve copy/pasted from a thread on The Guardian on Lena Dunham’s book sum up how I feel:

    “A “Self-Help” book from someone who is only 28, and whom even her cheerleaders admit comes from an “elite background”? No thanks, I think I’ll wait for something a bit grittier, like “Against All Odds: the Memoirs of Prince Harry” or “Growing up on the Wrong Side of the Tracks” by Brooklyn Beckham.”

    Followed by:

    “Living Hand to Mouth” by Mark Thatcher.
    “A Lifetime of Hard Work” by George Osborne
    “The Beginner’s Guide to Pacifism” by Tony Blair (ed. H. Kissinger)
    “Turning the Other Cheek” by Binyamin Netanyahu and Khaled Meshaal.
    I could do this all day!

    And then:

    One more for luck:
    “How to Make Friends and Influence People” by Kim Jong-un.

  28. Charmmykitty says:

    I don’t understand this woman at all. I don’t think she’s a genius talent, and she’s as smug as could be. I don’t like when people snark on her appearance (we can’t all be beautiful) but, that said, I hate that she deliberately makes herself look worse and then acts like it’s edgy.

  29. feebee says:

    She calls them local talent / performers / remarkable (but?) special weirdos she found on the internet.

    You didn’t find them on the internet, you advertised for them via an open casting call.

    Christ she’s insufferable.

  30. amp122076 says:

    I’m reading the book and it’s pretty entertaining. But I cannot get over (and have posted about many times) her posing with her mouth open on the red carpet. AACKK

  31. Lux says:

    There absolutely nothing likeable about her.

  32. Jayna says:

    Did she pull that out of a bin on the street filled with cast-offs that weren’t good enough for Goodwill and just throw it on? Beyond ugly, someone needs to buy her an iron. At least, if you are going to look bad, be pressed.

  33. Mauibound says:

    O geez, that hair and that horrible dress! Is it supposed to be fashion forward?

  34. Ana says:

    Are those marks on her legs carboxytherapy shots??