Friday, May 30, 2008

Stupid things happen all the time in Hollywood. Which one of these really happened?

1 - Birthdays are a special time, even for a Hollywood executive. But if you're gonna celebrate an agent's birthday, you darn sure better do it right. For after everyone gathered and sang and the candles were blown out, this executive just sat there, not partaking in the bounty of cupcakes. Atkins diet? Type-2 diabetes? Nope. They didn't have his favorite cupcake. But the fun didn't stop there. The executive took his assistant aside and told her to get his favorite cupcake so he could be part of his birthday party.

2 - Prom can be a stressful time for any teenager. What do I wear? Where's the after party? Should I wear my retainer? But a teen's life is a little bit easier when you have a Hollywood exec as a parent and that exec has an assistant. For you see, before the "greatest night of her life," the exec's daughter needed a corsage to match her outfit. "So where does the assistant factor in?" you ask. Just where you'd think -- the assistant was charged with finding the aforementioned flower for the big night. No word on whether the girl later got "deflowered."

3- Lunchtime for a Hollywood assistant is more of a myth than anything else. It's usually just enough time pour hot water on Ramen noodles and maybe grab a spoon. So when an actual lunchtime presents itself, assistants will use the entire hour to zone out, relax, maybe even watch a screener. In this case, a Hollywood assistant put on her headphones and watched a movie on her computer. The opening credits had barely finished when an executive (not her boss) walked over and complained the noise through the headphones was much too loud and to turn it down. To add insult to injury, the exec then asked the assistant to get him a bottle of water.


The voters thought...

Birthday Cupcake Fiasco...22%
Flower Me...33%
Lunchtime Cinema Interrupted ... 44%

And the correct answer is....

#2 -- FLOWER ME. It's hard to believe that something so absurd could be so right.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Deleted Chapter from Scott McClellan's Book

The Hollywood Temp Diaries secured a copy of an early draft of the highly controversial book What Happened by Scott McClellan. While this section didn't make the published version, it offers scathing commentary. Here's an excerpt in which Mr. McClellan discusses his "sales job":

The transition away from Texas was not easy for me or my co-workers. We knew we'd miss the place we called home for many years. The one source for comfort (other than the Almighty, of course) was the tremendous optimism and hope for what we could accomplish. The work we'd done in Austin was groundbreaking. Almost landmark in its significance. We'd single handedly shifted the entire paradigm, and we were going to bring this same approach to our new home, the capital...of entertainment. Yes. We were moving to Hollywood.

In Austin, we'd fostered and grown a film community based on creativity and independence. Film making was about art. About communicating a story. A compelling narrative. Interesting characters experiencing life. We came to Hollywood to change the way the entertainment industry was run. But in the end, the industry ran us.

We were quickly drawn into the Hollywood bubble and its culture of deception. And it wasn't simply that those on the other side of Barham were spreading misinformation. We started to believe what we were telling the public. And the fabrication that we delivered to America -- that Catwoman was a great movie.

We tried to sell the public that Catwoman was an action hero that young American girls could aspire to become. That the movie had all the elements -- superb dialog, fantastic action, a charming love story and a message. The fact is that Catwoman was nothing more than a sado-masochism movie pared down just enough for a mass consumption.

In the build-up to launch, I routinely asked for screeners, even dailies, of the film. But the administration only offered me a few storyboards and a log line. This clearly was insufficient. I was flying on a wing and a prayer.

I implored the senior officials that I desired greater access. But I was stonewalled at every turn. I found this behavior troublesome and confusing. Then, when I was to discuss it with the media, I misled them when they asked questions like: "Why were there eight re-writes of the script?", "Why did the press not get a preview?", "What kind of plans are there for Catwoman 2?"

But as I said, you...I got drawn into this culture of deception. Even when Catwoman went on to essentially sweep the Razzies -- Worst Director, Worst Actor, Worst Screenplay, Worst Picture -- the administration was in denial. They firmly believed that the movie would end up turning a profit after DVD, cable and international sales.

But at some point I had to stand up for what I believed in. That Hollywood should stop shoving every superhero into a movie or making a sequel solely based on fiscal policy. The truth is that the American public, and for that matter the world at large, will soon reject the Indiana Jones Part 4 and the recently announced installment of Beverly Hills Cop series. There's a reason that people seek out YouTube and providers of original content on the Internet. Because it is exactly that -- original.

If I lose contact with people who I've developed a great affection for as a result of this book, well, I can't control that. I certainly hope that it's not the case. But it's important for the Greater Hollywood community to get back on track and I hope that in some small way that I can help guide this effort.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hollywood is Washington for Dumb People

P.J. O'Rourke once mused that "Washington Is Hollywood For Ugly People." Allow me to make a corollary, "Hollywood is Washington for Dumb People." What's my proof (other than someone financing Leprechaun 5: In da Hood)?...

The executive Temp X is supporting this week is on vacation.


The executive Temp X is supporting this week is on vacation.

Case closed.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

This Week in TV

Summertime is upon us. And this can only mean one thing -- GREAT TV! For those of you who say there's a dearth of creativity on network TV these days, Temp X provides you 24+ hours worth of programming you can look forward to next week. Don't forget to set the TiVo for these winners...

  1. Million Dollar Password (Betty White and Regis Philbin cheat death for one more game show.)
  2. Saturday Night at the Fights (A guy named Kimbo Slice beats the snot out of everyone who isn't named Kimbo Slice.)
  3. The Price is Right Million Dollar Spectacular (Drew Carey calls it a day.)
  4. American Gladiators (People named Turbo and Minx wear Spandex and hit each other with giant Q-Tips. And they say TV execs don't do drugs.)
  5. Last Comic Standing (Watch Bill Bellamy try to be funnier than the contestants...and fail.)
  6. Stanley Cup Finals (ESPN dropped hockey in 2006 and their ratings improved. So of course NBC snapped up the rights.)
  7. TV's Most Outrageous Moments
  8. TV's Most Outrageous Moments
  9. TV's Most Outrageous Moments
  10. TV's Most Outrageous Moments (Yes. it's on 4 times)
  11. Top 100 Most Outrageous TV Moments (Yes this is different than TV's Most Outrageous Moments)
  12. Vacation Swap (I'm not sure what that means either.)
  13. The Bachelorette (25 guys and one woman. Not interested.)
  14. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (They considered naming this show "Gift Taxes are a Bitch.")
  15. Wife Swap (You know ABC is hoping for an affair just once.)
  16. Super Nanny (British women yelling at insolent American brats.)
  17. So you think you can Dance? (Dancers vie for the opportunity to...uh...what happens to the winners?)
  18. Moment of Truth (Creepy people admit creepy stories to a creepy host -- Mark Walberg.)
  19. Dateline (Creepy people admit creepy stories to a creepy host -- Chris Hansen.)
  20. Hell's Kitchen (That crazy British guy yells because someone cut a turnip the wrong way.)
  21. COPS (Drunks)
  22. COPS (More Drunks)
  23. America's Most Wanted (errr....uhhhh.....You try making fun of John Walsh.)
  24. Farmer Wants a Wife (It's on the CW. You'll never watch it anyway.)
And only 44 days until GREATEST AMERICAN DOG.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Stupid things happen all the time in Hollywood. Which one of these really happened?

1 - After returning from vacation in Brazil, this Hollywood executive had a craving for a fruit she enjoyed while on R&R -- the Pineapple Guava. So she did what any good Hollywood exec would do, she told her assistant to track one down. The assistant called more than 20 grocery stores and produce markets in Hollywood. No luck. Further research revealed the pineapple guava, like many other Brazilian fruits, are prohibited by the USDA and Customs because of fruit fly risks. Upon receiving this bad news, she had the assistant call the USDA to complain about the ban and instructed them to call her when the restrictions were lifted.

2 - At the world's most important comic book convention -- Comic-Con -- this Hollywood executive was clearly out of his league. While walking through the aisles of the San Diego Convention Center Blackberry-ing away, this executive bumped into someone dressed as Wolverine from X-Men. The executive took one look at person's the faux-razor claws and mistook the superhero for Freddy Kruger, the smart-talking killer from Nightmare on Elm Street. This prompted the exec to sarcastically comment, "Oh no. Now you're going to kill me in my dreams" and walked off.

3 -- At a writers' seminar, this network executive forgot a cardinal rule for maintaining credibility -- know what you're talking about. The discussion revolved around storyline and character issues for one of the network's offerings. But this wasn't just any show. It was the network's flagship program. This show had generated billions of dollars and was syndicated globally. So naturally the audience was confused when some of the executive's analysis didn't jibe with what they all knew of the show. Prodded by the writers to explain further, the executive admitted having never watched the show.


After tallying all the votes, here's what people thought....

Pineapple Guava -- 14%
Freddy vs. Wolverine -- 14%
That's my show? -- 71%

And the correct answer is....

That's my show? -- No flies on you guys this week. Sure enough, this executive was completely unfamiliar with any of the hundreds of episodes of this show. Cowabunga!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Guide to Nightlife for Temps

With a good Pimp, temping is a 40-hour-a-week job. And after a tough week of rolling calls, fighting with the photocopier and hitting "refresh" on your email, you need to cut loose. But how much fun can you have when you're only making $14.30/hr? Most bars charge $7 for a drink, and that's after paying a $10 cover. That's more than an hour's work for just one drink! What's a temp to do?

Temp X is here to guide you through all aspects of life in LA. This is why I've put together a list of good, cheap (sometimes even profitable) fun that you can have in LA. You can have a good time and still pay your rent.

Hollywood Park (Inglewood) -- Catch the ponies at a track that offers the majesty of Churchill Downs...if it had been carjacked and taken to Camden, New Jersey. On Fridays they have $1 hot dogs and $1 beers with $7 cover. And to make matters better, sometimes they have concerts with Neil Diamond cover bands or hasbeens like The Smithereens. If you bet properly, it becomes a profitable experience. If you don't...err... (Track Trivia - Hollywood Park is a misleading name since the track is 10 miles from Hollywood. But the name "Put Your Wallet in Your Front Pocket" Park was too cumbersome.)

Sardo's (Burbank) -- Porn Star Karaoke?! It is what it sounds like, assuming it sounds like adult film professionals like Ron Jeremy and Britney Rears belting their hearts out all your Karaoke favorites like "I Will Survive," "Dead or Alive" and "Let's Go Crazy." The bar has a strict clothing mandatory rule, although sometimes it appears they're a little lax on the enforcement. Wear gloves! No Cover. EVERY TUESDAY.

Fox and the Hounds (Studio City) -- Trivia!! Take on the quiz master and the other geniuses who can't remember anything from college but have no difficulty remembering that Deep Purple made an album called "Machine Head." If you win, you get to gloat over free drinks and free food. If you lose, you feel intellectually inferior and are forced to slink home. No Cover. Every Monday and Wednesday.

Cinespia/Cemetary Screenings (Hollywood) -- Quickly becoming a summer-time tradition in Hollywood. In cities with high culture, people grab their blankets, picnic equipment and watch the symphony or Shakespeare in the park. In LA they pile into the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (the final resting place of celebs ranging from Charlie Chaplin, to Mel Blanc to Betty White. Wait, she's still alive?) and you can watch movie classics while and get a contact high. $10. Saturdays durnign the summer.

Best Buy (many locations) -- Play Guitar Hero for hours while warding off 8-year olds who are better at playing songs they don't even know (Foghat?! Who or what is Foghat?!). If that line is too long, you can always play Madden 2008 on the PS3. That machine is always available. Free.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Golden Age of Hollywood -- The math behind the madness

All great societies are based on a social system -- the Greeks, the Romans, Ancient Egypt -- they all had it. Those from India call this a Caste system. In Hollywood, it's called Poincare' (after one of the early researchers of the "Chaos Theory"). But understanding the inner workings of these systems requires more than just a knowledge of interpersonal relationships, macro-economic theory and religious beliefs. There's actually a mathematical equation to determine the duration of each society.

Anyway, the key thing to note is all these great societies all collapse under the weight of their own hubris. The only reason it's taking Hollywood a little longer, is that plastic surgery is holding it in place.

So for all those wondering how much longer the Golden Age of Hollywood is going to go on for, here's the answer...

x = Duration of the society (in years)
a = Original ideas from such community (e.g., the wheel, Arrested Development)
b = Transportation cost (e.g., a chariot, a BMW M5)
c = Average age difference between societal elders and their wives (in years)

So in this case:

x = -50,000 +/- SQRT (50,000^2 - 4 (1)(50))/2(1)

Which leaves us with two answers:

-24,999 years (For the network execs unfamiliar with math, this answer won't work. We can't have negative time. Just like we can't have a 65-week year, or half-hour shows that last 40 minutes.)


.055 years (approximately 20 days). Eerily enough this happens to coincide with the time that SAG and AFTRA could authorize a strike, thus crushing the part of Hollywood that wasn't destroyed with the WGA Strike.

The end is near. Drink up.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Copyright Infringment Theatre

So I got lazy. Big deal. You try coming up with something funny every day. Sheesh. The most interesting thing that happened yesterday is it was someone's birthday. So we all stood around, sang just hard enough so as not to seem disinterested, ate cake just long enough so as not to seem rude and then returned to our desks to resume the game of Scrabulous that was waiting for us. I'll try harder tomorrow.

(The above comic comes from a site call Hopefully now they won't slam me with a "Cease and Desist" order.)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Upfronts -- As written by a Temp

Well, the streamers have strum, the drinks have been drunk and the drunks are off to rehab. Yep. The Upfronts are over. Hollywood executives can now return to doing what they do best, figuring out the next big show to import, slap a catchy name on and cast Jerry O'Connell. But before we forget all of last week in the needless-expenditured haze that it was, Temp X thought of a few ideas for shows too. Please indulge him as he presents his fall line-up.

So you think you can Temp? (FOX) -- A panel of judges filled with has-beens and never-weres evaluate temps as they perform embarrassing and dangerous tasks with photocopiers in hopes that they'll be hired on as full-time staff with benefits. Hosted by Regis Philbin.

CSI: Burbank (CBS)
-- Another spin off of the top-rated CSI franchise. In the pilot titled "Murder on the Burbank Express," sububan crime scene investigators led by Randolph McGirt (Ed O'Neill) are sent to a studio lot after a Hollywood executive is stabbed 48 times. McGirt becomes suspicious after all 48 temps offer the same alibis -- getting their bosses Tall Non-Fat Caramel Macchiatos. Turns out the temps were telling the truth, and the exec died trying to figure out something he'd never used before -- a letter opener.

TEMP (ABC) -- J.J. Abrams is at it again. A crew of temps en route to a film shoot run out of gas, leaving them lost and stranded on the 110 Freeway. The freeway has a plan for these hourly employees greater than they know. But first, can they survive mass transit and each other?

2 1/2 Temps (CBS) -- A leading talent agency makes a seemingly impossible staffing request in an effort to change temp providers. Hilarity ensues when the staffing firm sends over two regular-sized, but meek, temps (Chris Klein, Paul Dano) a wise-cracking midget (Verne Troyer).

TempX and the City (HBO) -- A temp and his three best friends (Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon and Kristen Davis) gossip about their sex lives (or lack thereof) and find new ways to deal with being Temps in Hollywood. NOT BASED ON A TRUE STORY.

Late Night with Jimmy "the Temp" Fallon (NBC) - The new host of a late night talk show fights off network execs who quickly realize the error of their casting decision. D.L. Hughley co-stars.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Stupid things happen all the time in Hollywood. Which one of these really happened?

1 -- Studio lots and major agencies have car detailing facilities on site. One day, one Hollywood executive needed his car cleaned in the morning so he could have it ready when he met potential client for lunch. When lunch time came around, the exec went down to the garage, got in his newly cleaned car and turned on the air conditioning only to see a pine needle blow through one of the vents. The exec turned off the car, called his assistant and requested an urgent car service. The exec also told the assistant to get the detailers to clean his car all over again -- Gratis.

2 -- Casting can make or break a movie - especially for one about George Washington. During a meeting with co-workers to discuss clients to submit for the role, this Hollywood executive suggested submitting a short, stout older Jewish man (think your Grandpa Sol) for the job. His co-workers were taken aback by this recommendation seeing as that Washington was 6'2" and certainly far from rotund. "Are you sure?" his co-workers asked. The exec dug further "What's the big deal? Slap a beard on him, and you're ready to go."

3 -- Hollywood execs are an edgy sort who sometimes need a cigarette to calm down. But when negotiations are heated, there isn't time to get off the conference call, go outside and have a smoke. One day, this executive was negotiating a multi-million dollar deal for a client to star in a major movie. When talks looked like they might stall, this executive pulled out a cigarette and lit up in his office. This only became a problem 5 minutes later when the fire alarm went off. At this point, the exec calmly walked out of his office, put the stubbed out cigarette and ashtray on the assistant's desk (and with it, blame) and exited the building. The assistant was fired.


After tallying all the votes, here's what people thought....

Car Cleaning -- 16%
George Washington -- 25%
Cigarette Story -- 58%

And the correct answer is....

The George Washington story. Yep. This exec made a bad casting recommendation only to compound it by confusing George Washington with Abe Lincoln.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A special treat from the Upfronts

Television has a beauty, a charm all its own. It is not the ugly, red-headed stepchild to the Silver Screen that some might think. There is a poetic serenity that comes with laying on your couch, remote in one hand and Cheez-Its in the other.

With that in mind, the Hollywood Temp Diaries is honored to have a special correspondent, national treasure and Uber-Poet Maya Angelou with her analysis of the Upfronts. Ms. Angelou's resume is second to none. She's received President Medal of the Arts, been named one of "the top 100 best writers of the 20th Century," won Grammys, received nearly 40 honorary degrees and is probably a friend of Oprah.

So without any further adieu or ass-kissing, here's Maya.

by. M. Angelou

Announcing more of the same.

Purchasing British shows dumbed down for American viewers
Blankly gazing at plasma screens

Were it not for mass importation, they might have to generate
Their own
But it's easier this way.

Knight Rider?
Take us to the center of KITT's mind, save the world and
Product Placement
Now termed
Product Integration.

Reality (in quotes)
Fewer this year.
Still CAN'T kill on TV

The Office
Good writing CAN deliver good ratings
If you let it try

Remember Seinfeld?
Started slow
How can you forget "The Contest"?
Not that there's anything wrong with it...

What's that?
Poem must end
Waiter with sushi walks away.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More news from the Upfronts...

Wait. First I need to get a beer. Back in a second...

When I was younger, I used to think Rolling Rock was a good, cheap beer. Now it's just a cheap beer. Well, anyway, it's Day 2 of the Upfronts. For the Hourly Caste of Hollywood this means finding 8 hours of websites to look at. I've been told Scrabulous is a big hit, but I prefer to continually hit refresh on my email inbox hoping against hope that someone has decided that to buy (or at least option) the rights to the Hollywood Temp Diaries. Until that happens, you'll be stuck reading this and I'll be stuck drinking Rolling Rock.

Enough with the preamble. Let's take a look at some of the shows we can look forward to this fall.

LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON (NBC) -- Temp X doesn't care because he never stays up past 9:30 p.m. except when Lost is on. That said, if he were to stay up that late and had a choice of watching Jimmy Fallon or that wacky religious guy who uses numerology to explain the Bible, chances are he'd watch and laugh harder at the Bible dude. FATE: Craig Ferguson's ratings will double. The rest of America will sleep. But that won't stop NBC.

BEVERLY HILLS 90210 (CW) -- Yep. The most famous ZIP code in America is back. When this Tori Spelling vehicle debuted in 1990, it was a much simpler time. There was no war in Iraq, George Bush wasn't President and...oh wait...not only am I wrong, but I'm plagiarizing my own material. I suppose that's appropriate for this point. FATE: Because of email, ZIP codes are not really necessary any more. The same can be said for this show.

[Beer interlude]

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS (ABC) -- Ashton Kutcher is at it again. He's come up with a game show that already exists, given it a new name and sold it to ABC. Perhaps it's fitting that the show it's based on is called Amne$ia (which was based on a bit Howard Stern did for years, which was based on The Newlywed Game). FATE: 3 episodes. No one watching ABC cares about Ashton Kutcher. Marketing 101: Know your audience.

SCRUBS (ABC) -- A show about the funny side of doctors treating cancer, cardiac failure and stroke. Oh, wait. This is the same show that was on NBC? The truth is the only reason ABC picked it up is because they also produce it and know they've got guaranteed money from syndicating it. It's like those pennies in your pocket. If you melt them down, the copper is worth more than 1 cent. The same holds true for Scrubs. FATE: I'll let you guess.

Well, that's it for now. Someone else is announcing tomorrow. I think it's FOX. Uh oh. Gotta pee.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Temping and the Upfronts

As predictable as the swallows flocking to Capistrano or drunk college kids swerving to South Padre Island, television network executives, producers and advertisers descend on New York City for "The Upfronts."

At these events, the major networks (as well as NBC and the CW) announce which shows are gonna replace the crappy shows that bombed miserably last year (Cavemen, The Bionic Woman). After revealing these shows to much fan fare (mostly from themselves), the network execs proceed to get advertisers really drunk in hopes they'll commit to buying more ads than they should, need or can justify. [Note: Execs also get really drunk as they soon realize they've decided to spend millions of dollars on a musical TV show based in a casino in Laughlin, Nevada.]

Now what does this have to do with a Temp? Well, it means there's not much to do this week because everyone important is out of town. So instead of working, let's review some of the shows that got picked up:

LIFE ON MARS (ABC) -- A REMAKE of a BBC series about some cop who travels back in time to the 1970s. Strangely he doesn't notice because there's a moron in the White House, gas prices are sky high and Richard Simmons is...well...Richard Simmons. FATE: Will last longer (but not by much) than Journeyman, last season's show about some time traveling guy.

CLASS DISMISSED (Fox) -- A REMAKE of an Australian animated series Sit Down, Shut Up. Really funny pilot script from the guy who did Arrested Development. FATE: Critically Acclaimed.

(CBS) -- A REMAKE of a British TV series (are we noticing a trend?). It's something about science, crime and government agencies. Sounds like Numb3rs if you ask me. Surprise, it's another Jerry Bruckheimer show on CBS. FATE: Expect success and spin offs - Eleventh Hour: Miami and Eleventh Hour: New York.

(CBS) -- In the same mold of the "Fat Guy and Hot Wife" shows that have saturated TV over the last 10 years, except this guy is divorced and his ex-wife is (former Abercrombie and Fitch model) Jamie King. Jay Mohr will be charged with carrying this show...wake me when it's over. Of course you could say the same about Jim Belushi, Ray Romano or that guy from Still Standing. FATE: 6 seasons plus syndication.

Tomorrow: more in-depth analysis of next season's new shows.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

How much does that cost in "Temp Time"?

Temping in Hollywood is not a lucrative occupation. The pay range is typically between $11 and $18 per hour. Right now Temp X is making $14.30 per hour before taxes. But whatever your hourly rate, Hollywood isn't cheap and you need to spend your money wisely -- whether on food, rent or well, actually you're usually out of money by then. But the most curious thing is how you look at the cost of things.

Temps (and for that matter, most assistants in Hollywood) cease looking at expenses as a dollar amount but rather as how many hours you'll have to work to make up that cost. I was gonna do a whole breakdown of the Consumer Price Index and a Market Basket analysis, but then I realized I got a C in economics, so I'd probably just screw it up.

So instead, here's a quick list of likely purchases a Temp would make and how much they cost in "Temp Time":

1 cup of coffee (for you) = 10 minutes
1 Grande Macchiato & 1 non-fat scone (for your boss) = 45 minutes
1 burrito (half for lunch, half for dinner) = 30 minutes
1 tank of gas (regular unleaded) = 4 hours
1 monthly bus pass = This is LA, how would I know?
1 beer (foreign) = 30 minutes
1 beer (now that you're buzzed, domestic) = 15 minutes
A date = N/A

2 movies ("Theater Hopper" rate) = 1 hour*
Valet parking = 30 minutes
Parking ticket for accidentally using the Valet Zone = 5 hours
1 computer to write "Showgirls 2" = 80 hours
Laser printer, paper and brass fasteners for script = Free (use the stuff at work, duh!)
1 pack of cigarettes (for networking with Studio Executives) = 30 minutes
1 box Nicoderm CQ (7 patches) = 3 hours



Friday, May 9, 2008

The Few, The Proud, The Temps

Temp X realized he's ignored a critical piece for his readers - the process of becoming a Hollywood Temp. Each temp must pass a series of rigorous tests to qualify for these coveted positions...Ok, perhaps I've overstated this. These tests aren't as difficult as the Labors of Hercules. But there are similarities. Who knows about the Cleaning of the Augean Stables? Err...let's come back to that.

First thing to do is find a Temp Agent (Pimp). There is no shortage of Pimps in Hollywood. And like their sex-trade equivalents, Temp Pimps come in all types. There are those who run the Escort Services (they have the $18/hr jobs). And there are the back-alley businesses run by a guy with a gold-tooth and three baby mamas (they have the $10/hr jobs). While you want to work for the Escort Service, these jobs are limited, so sometimes you end up working for Ramon. Just remember, either way you're getting screwed.

Once at the temp agency, you will fill out a tome of an application. (Hint: Usually you're just handwriting what's already on your resume.) Then you take a test on Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint where you'll be quizzed on things Bill Gates doesn't even know. For as much of a pain as this process is, it's smart to register with a few Pimps because:
  1. Like a bi-sexual on a weekend night, you double your chances of getting a "date."
  2. Actually I forgot the second reason, so let's go to #3.
  3. Whether they know it or not, the skills test is the same at each agency. (There aren't too many companies that develop programs that test on Microsoft Office.) So it's a little like the movie GROUNDHOG DAY. You get a second, third and fourth chance to achieve perfection. But after taking it a couple too many times, you search for ways to kill yourself.
On to the typing test. The is standard deal -- how many words per minute can you type. (One time Temp X scored 48 WPM, but it was wind-aided.) But the interesting part is what they have you type. The content is usually something like...

After your cover letter and résumé, the interview is your best opportunity to wow the employer-regardless of your background and experience. To do this, use every possible strategy to develop effective interviewing skills. The best way is to prepare a selective presentation of your background...

The irony is traditional job hunting and interviewing techniques are irrelevant in Hollywood. (for more information, see "Shit! Where are my interview jeans?")

Now to the interview round. If you've made it to this point, that means you've scored "Above Average" on your office skills test. Congratulations. At this point you will face a question harder than finding the other side of a Mobius Strip, "Why do you want to be a temp?"

Sadly, Temp X will not tell you the answer to that question. You see, he needs to protect his interests. If you know the answer and pass the test, you might end up with his gig. It's a matter of self preservation. Even the Temp world is cutthroat.

Well, you've reached the end of this simple process Now you sit by the phone and wait for someone to call.

Good luck out there. Happy Temping.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Temp X and Dating in Hollywood

One of the perks of living in Hollywood: you can throw a rock in any direction and hit a good looking woman. Whether or not she knows that a rock just hit her, well...that's a good question. But that brings us to today's subject: The Temp and Dating.

Temp X is a reasonably well educated person. He had an extensive career before moving to Hollywood. Temp X can talk intelligently (or at least fake it) on a wide variety of subjects. But there's one question a date can ask that elicits a paralyzing fear, a terror unlike no other. That question is, "So what do you do for a living?"

This is a simple question for most of the world. Teachers say, "I'm a teacher." Doctors say, "I'm a doctor." Actors say, "I'm a waiter." (ok, bad example) A Temp says...

"Well. it's kinda complicated."

Not surprisingly this will draw a confused look from your date.

"I'm a writer."

The Temp hopes this line of questioning is over. It never is.

"Oh, really? What do you write?"

Shit, there's a hole in the dyke!

"Mostly TV. Nothing you've seen."

Note: The use of the phrase "nothing you've seen" is designed to give the impression that you write for a living, just not on a well known show. It's also used to end that line of questioning.

"Try me. I love TV."

Another fissure?

"Well, I don't actually write on a show. I just finished a pilot and I'm about to start working on another."

"Oh that's great."

Crisis averted. Time for a celebratory bite of the nachos.

"Do you have a deal with anyone?"

Crisis NOT averted. Temp wonders if he just swallowed a whole Jalepeno?

"Well, I don't actually have a deal yet. I'm writing them on spec. Hopefully someone will like it enough to buy it."

"That's cool. Well, I'm sure something will come of it."


Surely this topic has been exhausted. Right?

"So, where are you repped?"

The Temp feels a bead of sweat run down the middle of his back.

"I'm not repped...yet."

"Do you have a manager?"

Another bead of sweat races to catch up.

"No. I'm trying to get my stuff out there. You know. YouTube, blogging, networking - a bunch of different ways."

"So how do you make money?"

A whole myriad of feeling, fears and anxieties come rushing in. They cause the Temp to ponder life and its greater meaning. The Temp considers taking the LSAT as he says...

"I'm a temp."

And then the date ends.

This scene plays out over and over among young, single Temps trying to make their way in Hollywood. Now for those of you saying "Why not get that all out at once, and move on the with date?" there is a simple answer. If your boat has run aground, do you throw everything off, or do you throw off just the amount you need to get things moving in the right direction.

Temp X agrees.

Coming Soon: Temp X's Hollywood Flashbacks

Assistant versus Temp -- The Answers

And now for the answers to yesterday's quiz.
  1. Change my kid's diapers. TEMP X
  2. Take my distant relative on a sightseeing drive. ASSISTANT
  3. Go get my subdivision's plans from the Malibu Department of Planning. TEMP X
  4. Get my dress from the dry cleaners. TEMP X
  5. Take my Drivers' Exam (the written portion). ASSISTANT
  6. Help my relative move into a retirement home. ASSISTANT
  7. Get AMEX to cancel the 4 months of late fees and penalties on my card. TEMP X
  8. Move my car every 2 hours, 3 times a day so I don't have to pay for parking and I don't get a ticket. TEMP X
Just be glad your boss hasn't asked you to do any of these.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Assistants versus Temps -- Round 1

There's a basic rule in Hollywood: If you're getting paid hourly, the work you're doing is tedious and menial. And if that wasn't bad enough, sometimes it even means that your work has nothing to do with your employer's stated goals, source of revenue or description in the Hollywood Creative Directory. This is actually one area where assistants get it slightly worse than temps.

"Wait?!" you interrupt. "How is that possible? Why would an assistant who gets paid hourly have to do more ridiculous tasks than a temp who gets paid hourly? Doesn't shit flow down hill?"

Well, Hollywood is a little like the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz. Sometimes the normal laws of Newtonian physics and the social order are a little...dare I say...Cuckoo. But the answer is simple. Temps can quit a gig today, call their Pimp up, and have a new gig tomorrow. Assistants have to give two-weeks' notice, then find their own Pimp and hope they can get a gig sometime within the next month. But the bigger question is why does anyone put up with this:
"In Hollywood you never know who might be able to help you. So if you're at the market and someone smashes into your cart, steps on your foot and swipes the last piece of tofu from your basket, you smile and say 'I'm sorry, that was my fault' and move on."
Oh, right. That thing again. Well, that was a hell of a preamble to get to today's quiz. Which absurd tasks were given to assistants (friends of Temp X) and which tasks did Temp X get told to do (in some cases resulting in him quitting that gig)? HINT: Temp X will have five answers.
  1. Change my kid's diapers.
  2. Take my distant relative on a sightseeing drive.
  3. Go get my subdivision's plans from the Malibu Department of Planning.
  4. Get my dress from the dry cleaners.
  5. Take my Drivers' Exam (the written portion).
  6. Help my relative move into a retirement home.
  7. Get AMEX to cancel the 4 months of late fees and penalties on my card.
  8. Move my car every 2 hours, 3 times a day so I don't have to pay for parking and I don't get a ticket.

Monday, May 5, 2008

How a Spec Becomes a Movie

(to the tune of that "School House Rock" thing)

Whew, there sure are a lot of temps and waiters here in Hollywood.
Well, I wonder what that sad little scraps of paper with two brass fasteners is?

I'm just a spec, yes, I'm only a spec.
And I'm sitting here on some intern's desk.
Well it's a long, long journey to the big silver screen.
It's a long, long wait until the weekend read.
But I know I'll be a movie some day,
At least I hope and pray I'm not drek.
But today I'm still just a spec.

Gee, Spec, you certainly have a lot of patience and courage.

Well, I got this far. When I started, I wasn't even a spec, I was just an idea. Some guy was smoking a joint one night and wrote down a logline. Then he called some friends and they said, "You know you're right. That would be a great movie. Now let's get some tacos." So he sat down with a case a Red Bull and wrote for 17 days straight, and then he ran spell check, and I became a spec. And I'll remain a spec until they make me into a movie.

I'm just a spec, yes I'm only a spec
And I just got off some intern's desk.
Well, now I'm stuck in an inbox and I'll sit and I'll wait
While an agent yells at an intern and threatens their fate
And asks them where their coverage is.
I hope CAA sees I'm not drek.
But today I am still just a spec.

Listen to those executives argue. Is all that discussion and debate about you?

Yeah, I'm one of the lucky ones because I was referred by a client. Most specs never even get this far. I hope they like me, otherwise I may die.


Yeah, die with all the other unsolicited specs! Ooh! But it looks like I'm gonna live. Now they're gonna take me out and shop me around.

If someone likes you, then what happens?

Then the agents begin their negotiation with the studio.

Oh, no!

Oh, yes!

I'm just a spec, yes I'm only a spec.
And I made it off the agent's desk.
Well, now I'm off to Business Affairs where I'll wait in a line.
With a lot of other specs for Mr. Murdoch to buy.
And if he pays for me I'll be come a film!
How I hope and pray I'm not drek.
But today I am still just a spec.

You mean even if the studio says you should be a movie, Mr. Murdoch can still say, "no"?

Yes, that's called a "51 percent ownership." If he doesn't like me, I have to go to Development where they tack on a predictable ending and offer to pay less for me, and by that time...

And by that time, it's very unlikely that you'll ever be made. It's not easy to become a movie, is it?


How I hope and pray I'm not drek.
But today I am still just a spec.

He bought you Spec, now you're gonna be a movie.

Oh, yes!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Tempies -- After the Intermission

Hello, and welcome back to the Tempies -- an award show honoring Hollywood's temporary employees. Nice to see everyone came back from the intermission. Clearly you couldn't come up with a good enough excuse to leave. Just give me a couple minutes and that'll change (rim shot). So let's see. We've got some celebrities with us in the audience tonight...

Elliot Spitzer, disgraced former Governor of New York is here. Who would have thought you'd come to the Tempies? I guess he heard it was an awards show honoring people who get paid by the hour and he couldn't resist.

Of course Bruce Vilanch is here. Now what would an awards show be with out Bruce Vilanch? Oh, I would be FUNNY! Zing!

Who else is here? Wait, is that who I think it is? It's the adult film legend and star of the upcoming movie Zombie Strippers - Jenna Jameson. Wow! Nice to see you again Jenna. I almost forgot what you looked like from the front.

Well, lookee here. From the televised junior high talent show that is American Idol, Paula Abdul is here. Yes, everyone Paula is with us, but is she really WITH US? Can someone give her a tissue? She's drooling again.

Jamie Lynn Spears is with us tonight too...and with a baby on board. So, are you looking forward to being a mother? Wait. What's that you said? Your fetus is already pregnant? You're gonna be a grandmother at age 17? How beautiful. Here's a tip for Miley Cyrus, don't take Zoey 101 (wink wink).

Alright enough of this kibitzing let's find out who else will go home with a Golden Timesheet.

BEST INTERVIEW QUESTION -- And the winner is...(Name Omitted) with "Do you know how to ride a motorcycle?" Yes, it's true Temp X was asked this during an interview. "Sure," he responded, he noticed the interviewed scribble a note down "Oh, that's great!" Temp X smiled proudly. "But why?" "Well, sometimes (Name's) motorcycle needs to go to the shop. And you'd need to take it over there." [Honorable Mention: "What do you know about setting up paintball parties?"]

BEST PLACE TO GET LUNCH -- And the winner is...Cartoon Network. Crack out some Duran Duran because lunch time is Retro Hour at Cartoon Network. Temps often luncheon by themselves (a subject to be addressed soon), so if you're on your own, might as well have fun doing it. They've got a bunch of the original stand-up arcade games (Ms. Pacman, Centipede, Asteroids) to go with bean bag chairs and a 60 inch TV (with cable). It's a geeks' paradise. Which is lucky,'re dealing with college-educated people who like to make shows about talking Sponges.

BEST EXCUSE TO NOT HIRE -- For the seventh year in a row, the winner is...(Name Omitted) with, "It's not that you're too old, you just have too much experience." Interestingly enough, that's a line I usually hear when I get dumped too. Hey-o!

BEST CELEBRITY -- And the Tempie goes an upset...Mr. T! Let's face it, assistants get somewhere between no respect and slightly less then no respect in this town. And temps have it worse. It's just a fact of life. But every once in a while you'll meet a celebrity who will not only say "Hello" but will engage you in conversation and sometimes even remember your name. T (you can call him T, it's ok) does all of this and more. While he didn't win in Rocky 3, he wins something even more valuable...our Hearts. Oh, and a Golden Timesheet. [Honorable Mention: Henry Winkler.]

Stay tuned for the dramatic conclusion of The Tempies and find out who the winner is of "Temp of the Year."

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May Day

In celebration of May Day, Temp X's Pimp took the day off. Proving the theory of trickle down economics, Temp X took the day off too.

With this in mind, there is only one thing to say to all of my Temporary Brothers and Sisters: one day we shall rise up and take control of Hollywood. We shall run the studios, write the great films and television shows, manage the great talent, act like the great muses of history and drink from the chalice we so richly deserve to sip from. We will be delivered from our indentured temporary servitude and achieve the fruits of our labor like health insurance, paid vacation, lunches that aren't exactly 3600 seconds. We will be able to rip up our time sheets, throw away the business cards of our pimps, ignore the UTA job lists and most importantly, be called something other than "Temp." Join hands with me. Fight for what you deserve and never, never give up the struggle. I can assure you that when we do, it will be the sweetest day. Then we can yell at interns, spit out poorly brewed coffee in disgust and make others endure the pain of spending hours fighting with the photocopier. This day will happen. All I ask is that you ..."Believe."