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Negotiating with The Lion King

· negotiation,Negotiation tips,negotiation expert,Bachelorette,Bachelor

If you’re in a relationship you know that we are always negotiating with our partners.

Today, I want to introduce you to another GREAT negotiator in my life – my husband.

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He and I met while working on a little show called The Bachelor. Have you heard of it?

If you haven’t lived in a cave without TV in the last 20-something years, then you have probably have heard of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette franchise.

Now, my husband and I learned a lot about relationships while working on that show.

Former Host Chris Harrison and I at Bachelor Sean & Catherine Lowe's wedding reception.

As TV producers, we also negotiated a lot of deals. It’s a HUGE part of shows to reduce budgetary constraints. Most TV shows have very small budgets they’re working with, and it’s up to a producer to make deals, so that productions can stretch the amount they do have.

My husband is still a TV producer, and he’s amazing at negotiating these deals. I remember when we worked with Disney (notorious for being very, very, very difficult to work with), he helped ME negotiate a deal with the Broadway production of The Lion King

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The negotiation took months, and here’s the gist of it:

When we first pitched Disney Theatricals that we’d like to do an integration with The Lion King and our Bachelorette on a big group date in NYC, they were thrilled to work with us….however, we quickly realized that their version of an integration and ours were VERY different. 

Here’s basically what we pitched to them…. our Bachelorette would send a group of eligible bachelors to the center of Times Square when suddenly the Bachelorette would show-up on ABC/Disney’s giant jumbo tron with a video message to meet her on The Lion King stage inside the Minskoff Theatre. 

Then, the single daters would have to audition for The Lion King’s director, choreographer, and musical director to win a 1x1 date with the Bachelorette and have a featured aerial scene in that evening’s performance of the show. Sounds amazing right? 

The phone call went silent. 

They then informed us that we wouldn’t even be able to enter the Minskoff Theatre, let alone gain access to the stage. We were told meeting the creative team and performing in the show was not even remotely possible. 

Then, they pitched us their vision of the partnership. 

They thought it would be more practical to see our cast do a parade-like performance marching up and down Times Square with look-alike costumes that we’d have to provide… and none of their cast would even be allowed to appear on our show. On top of that, they had requested typical media integration items, like verbal mentions. 


This is where Michael really started pushing back, in a way that I was not used to… or even comfortable with, to be honest. He started in with… “So, how is this an integration exactly?”  Oh boy... here we go I thought….. BUT, Michael acknowledged their needs. 

(Here's the "Yes, And!" part...see below in my wrap up…) 

We want to give you everything you’re asking for, the exposure, the verbals, etc… AND to do this, Michael explained, you also have to help us help you get what you want.. by giving us what we want. Michael painted a picture for them… What would be a better promo for The Lion King? 

A) Our Bachelorette and six dudes aimlessly marching up and down Broadway holding make-shift animal costumes in the 90 degree weather... 


B) Having our cast get a crash-course in being a Broadway star, led by professional choreographers, actors, designers, and technicians – and having the best of our cast actually get to perform in the show, which would allow 10 million+ viewers to see the most visually stunning moments of The Lion King, the costumes, songs, dancing, and visual effects? 

He upgraded their vision by being inclusive of their asks, but also challenging their version of the creative by giving them two scenarios. “If you’re a viewer at home, which version would you want to watch?” 

After that, they fought tooth and nail with their bosses to get everything we asked for… and we went above and beyond in giving them more exposure than they could have ever dreamed.

To summarize, here’s what I learned from my husband, that I think you can apply to your next negotiation:

  • As mentioned above, when it comes to negotiating, my husband comes from a place of “Yes, and…” He’s a former Improv performer and actor, so this is something that’s in his DNA. I’ve been learning this one from him, ever since we got married. He doesn’t argue with anyone’s statements or beliefs. Instead, he BUILDS upon what they want and gives them additional options. He’s the ultimate collaborator. 
  • When you’re working with a large corporation, it may be easy to think, “Hey who am I? I’m such a small cog in this giant wheel, so I have to give in to their demands in order to get them to say YES.” However, my husband was never intimidated. He made sure we got what we needed, which was for the Bachelorette and her dates to be in the actual production! Yes, the one that the audience was going to watch that night! He explained why it was necessary, and he got them on board, so that the person we dealt with could explain it to all the stakeholders we never even talked to (like the union reps and higher ups).
  • He sets super clear expectations. This one is huge. I’m still learning from him on this one. As humans, when we don’t know what to expect, we tend to imagine the worst, so it’s very easy for someone to say NO to protect their interest. When someone sets clear expectations of what’s to come, then we don’t tend to have what one of my spiritual coaches calls an “expectation hangover.” This is for everything in life. When I expect my mom to behave in a certain way, and then she does something totally different, I may get triggered, frustrated, and annoyed. However, if I go into a conversation with my mom without expecting her to act a certain way, I will be curious, open and calm. When it comes to negotiating, this is the SAME. If you’re negotiating for a car right now in 2022, during this inventory shortage, for example, you can’t expect to negotiate $10K off the price (like I did back in 2014, when we bought our Jeep). But I digress. When it came to this particular negotiation with Disney’s Lion King, my husband set very clear expectations of what we’re planning on doing, what we needed from them, and what they can expect from us, so that there were no surprises. When we finished shooting, everyone was happy! In fact, we’re still friends with the Broadway show’s head of PR. When we had already stopped working on the show, a couple of years later, he wrote us an email: 
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Now, if you want to create a masterpiece or just want to learn how to negotiate your salary, rates or anything…sign up below or get more details about a negotiation workshop my friend Malika Amandi, of The Center for Women’s Voice, and I are excitedly putting together for YOU! 

With Gratitude,

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