Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hollywood's Worst of 2008

Hollywood execs are full of bad ideas. This isn't anything new. But we're not here to discuss bad ideas from yore like Supertrain or Joey (and Hollywood's inability to learn anything), this is about the year that was.

Without any further adieu, here's a list of Hollywood's grand Fuck Ups of 2008...

[Note: I'm sure I'm missing a bunch of them. Please send along your faves as I will compile them.]

SAG Threatened Strike -- This seemed like a perfectly good idea until a combination of the obvious and really obvious kicked in -- shows could go AFTRA instead, every other union has settled, people remember not working during the WGA strike, oh, and the economy is in the toilet. The only person who couldn't figure this out without serious help is the soon-to-be ex-Mr. Marg Helgenberger. Luckily he pulled his head out of his ass long enough to think about it.

Rosie's Variety Show -- It takes a special degree of bad to sub for a show that's being cancelled and pull worse ratings. Worse than Knight Rider?! [Just a thought: Perhaps Conan O'Brien should have seen the pie in the face gag on Rosie's show as some sort of omen?]

The CW's Sunday Night alternative -- In a move that makes Sarah Palin's jet/eBay fiasco look like genius, The CW sold off programming rights for Sunday night to Media Rights Capital. It's a perfectly good idea except that it puts someone else in control of your product and your brand. Kinda like putting a Buick logo on a (errr...what kind of car is worse than a Buick). Anyway, when the ratings came in the deal fell apart and The CW looks sillier than it already does.

Harry Potter coming sooner or later to a theater near you -- Lest we forget the cover of Entertainment Weekly's Fall 2008 movie preview had Mr. Harry himself in all his wizardly garb. The only problem is that EW's sister company decided to push back the release date until Summer 2009 but didn't tell the magazine.

A reality show featuring [imprisoned athlete name redacted] -- As much as I'd love to tell you who this is, my Temp code of ethics prevents me from doing so. But suffice it to say, this is a shameful, pathetic, embarrassing idea -- no wonder it's generating interest. If this show sells before one of mine, I'm giving up and moving. Either that or I'll get arrested for [crime redacted] and [other crime redacted]. Then I'll make it in this town. -- Warner Bros incorporated in 1923, owns thousands of films and TV properties worth watching (and selling advertising on, thus making money, boosting revenues, etc.) and the best they can do on is Friends and A Boy Wearing Make Up. They'll say they're targeting "tweens" or "Gen Z" or some other microdemographic, but the reality is Hulu is kicking their ass. Methinks they should get together with their corporate sibling AOL's site In2TV (yeah, I've never heard of it either and yes, it's a terrible name) and make a product people might want to watch.

Not Hiring Temp X -- By not hiring me because I have: a) too much experience, b) not enough experience, c) never set up a paintball party, d) etc. -- you've put yourself in a situation where now I temp just to make fun of you. So for every Hollywood exec who leaves at 3 p.m. every Wednesday for a "massage," has their assistants messenger their cocaine for them, asks their assistants to lie to cover up their infidelity or throws phones at people because they can -- Thank You. You are all my Muses.

See you in 2009.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry X-mas (get it, that's a play on Temp X, oh forget it)

The Bronzed Fonz is a much better as a Summer travel idea, that is unless you prefer it to be -5 degrees with 30 mph winds.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Stupid Interview Question -- The Holiday Edition

I suppose with it being Christmas and all, it's only appropriate that one of my loyal readers offered the following question from an interview with a Hollywood executive...

"Do you know which way is North?"

If you have one of your own, please send them along to I promise your identity will be protected.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Happy Holidays

Most of Hollywood will be on vacation for the next two weeks (except the Temps who will go in, sit at a desk, watch the phone not ring, collect a check and go home). So this may or may not be my last posting for 2008. If it is, have a great Christmahanukwansakahboxing Day and a happy New YearsawhatevertheycelebrateinCanada. If it isn't, chances are I'll do a posting of the worst Hollywood had to offer in 2008 some time next week.

And now to get you in the mood for the season, I present to you, the WPIX yule log.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Love and Hate Mail -- Volume 3

With increased readership apparently comes increased venom. And rather than blame the executives for coming up with bad ideas, politicians for killing the economy or their parents for some sort of Freudian issue, fans of the Hollywood Temp Diaries yell at me. How am I the asshole? I need instructions on how to roll calls.

Letter #1: Hey, you're an NU alum? Shitty newsletter represent!

Temp X responds: After 4 years in Evanston, 45 classes, 2 degrees, a GPA in majors of 3.1 and 3.5, lots of beer and one fantastic impersonation of the late Vladamir Nabakov -- I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Are you sure you didn't go to the cooking school up the street?

Letter #2: Your blog is possibly he most useful thing on the internet for people who are starting out in the business. Thank you.

Temp X responds: If you keep working at it, you can be as successful as I am -- a Temp.

Letter #3 (Re: "Hollywood Dictionary -- Part 3"): The Black List (notice slight spelling difference) is explicitly not a list of the "best" - at most it's the "most well liked" unproduced (not unsigned) scripts.

Temp X responds: You are correct because unfortunately the "best" scripts in Hollywood are usually those that go "unproduced." This reminds me of a quote I heard earlier in the year, "Give me a pound. Lock it down. Break the pickle. Tickle, Tickle!" Now that's quality Hollywood material.

Letter #4 (Re: "More crap that might be coming soon to a theater near you...") :
You make $20,000 per year and we're supposed to think you're wise in your choice of Obama over McCain? Do you even know what you're talking about, other than repeating what you hear everyone else say? Which is essentially nothing?

Temp X responds: While I am reluctant to discus politics on a site dedicated to trying to help the underemployed find jobs or at least stomach the one they're in, I'll indulge just this once (Obama winning makes this slightly more enjoyable too). But to address your question, I believe what you're suggesting is there's a correlation between wealth and knowledge. I beg to differ. Look at George Bush. He's got tons of money and he's dumb as shit.

And as a special bonus, the following is a response to a pitch I sent to select reporters. The title of the email was "It's Layoff Season and the Hollywood Temp Diaries is here to Help." The content you may have seen on other sites. Well it didn't take long for The Hollywood Reporter to respond...

THR responds: As of December 4, 2008 I am no longer employed at The Hollywood Reporter. If you have THR-related questions, please call the L.A. office at 323-525-2000. If you would like to contact me personally, my email is [email redacted]. Thanks!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Day 2008 offers a terrible selection of movies. Which idea is the worst?

Final Results:

Hitler triumphs over good -- 42%
Adam Sandler getting kicked in various body parts -- 12%
Sin City: Part 1 1/2 -- Hot Chicks with Guns -- 9%
The Curious Case of Brad Pitt taking his shirt of repeatedly -- 16%
I'm over Brad Pitt, really. Look I'm doing a movie with a dog. -- 18%

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Year's Resolutions for your Boss

Movie studio and TV network executives are busy people. They have to make sure their advertisers, business partners and/or actors are happy. They need to make sure they're on budget (or at least not drastically over budget). And most importantly, they have to make sure they're employees aren't completely miserable or fearing for their jobs.

Sadly this doesn't leave a lot of time for reflection and analysis, something that is necessary as we come up with our New Year's resolutions.

But the folks at the Hollywood Temp Diaries are here to help. We've developed a list of resolutions these busy execs can choose from. We recommend selecting at least five from the following list. Chances are you'll forget two of them, screw up two more and attempt to keep one. Even achieving that step may make Hollywood a better place.

[Note: If you're not sure which applies to you, please quit and move out of town.]

  • No more circus-related TV shows.
  • Ask your assistant about his/her career goals. Listen and try to help.
  • Don't create shows that will obviously fail (eg., Opportunity Knocks, Crusoe, Do Not Disturb)
  • Don't spend $150 million on movies with narrow appeal (e.g., Speed Racer, Australia)
  • Treat your assistant like a educated, well-informed and valued member of the team.
  • Do your part to make sure there's not another strike.
  • Recognize that everyone's time is valuable.
  • Learn your assistant's name.
  • Don't put Eddie Murphy in a "fat suit" ever again.
  • Recognize that cable/satellite market penetration is up to 92 percent market penetration -- meaning 9 out of 10 people can watch networks with better programs like TNT, FX and Showtime.
  • Don't make any dance competition shows -- five is five too many (DWTS, DW: B vs CA, ABDC, SYTYCD, SOD).
  • Pay your assistant more. They deserve and need every penny.
  • Don't remake every movie (or these) from the early 1980s.
  • Don't turn every last comic book into a movie.
  • Quit hitting on your assistant.
  • Buy the rights to the Hollywood Temp Diaries (this is applicable to both TV and movie execs.)

And here's my resolution...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Yet another stupid interview question

So many stupid questions, so little time. Here's a query one of my loyal readers got during an interview to work for a Grammy winning artist...

"Do you mind having weed blown in your face?"

If you have one of your own, please send them along to I promise your identity will be protected.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Hollywood Temp Diaries Christmas Party

If you still have a job, chances are your company Christmas party has been canceled. Or if you're lucky enough to corporately celebrate this season of giving, the festivities probably consist of two slices of Papa John's pizza and an Emmy screener in the conference room.

We all long for the days when companies spent money frivolously on holiday parties rather than on their administrative assistants' salaries. But renting out Beverly Wilshire Hotel, serving free liquor and gorging on gourmet food -- those days are gone.

But let's imagine the economy isn't in the toilet. Let's imagine that you got a Christmas "bonus," and your employer had a Christmas party. Here's what the Christmas party would have been like for you -- the lowly assistant. So sit back, crack open the emergency bottle of Jack Daniel's you have stored at your desk and imagine...

"Well hello!! You look nice this evening. I'm [insert name of perky HR staffer]. I know this is your first Christmas...I mean with us. You'll have a great time. Last year's party was legendary. The highlight was when [A-list client] showed up and did Jimmy Stewart's monologue from It's a Wonderful Life. Sigh. But he's not a client any more after that unfortunate run-in with the Malibu police and an inflatable sheep.

Anyhoo. I'll take you on a little tour and after that you can be on you merry way. Oooh. That was punny. Huh?!

Ok, so here we have the appetizer table. You'll see that everything is vegan because the Big Guy's new girlfriend Krissie is vegan. So you can have soy cheese and crackers, carrots, No-Meat Balls or Tempeh.

We have an open bar. Executives, professional staff and their dates get top shelf liquor. But you support staff, you get a real treat. It's a new brand I just heard about from my housekeeper. It's called Popov Vodka. And it comes smartly packaged in a plastic bottle. The bartender will make one of those vodka and Energy Drink cocktails that are so popular with you kids. Or, if you like wine, we have a very special selection from Boone's Farm, which I believe is from the same valley in Australia as the Penfolds Grange Hermitage.

Since a group of your co-workers are in the throes of the Master Cleanser diet, we even have a have a pitcher of that water, lemon juice, syrup and cayenne pepper concoction.

For dinner you have a choice of chicken-flavored tofu, beef-flavored tofu or sushi-flavored tofu. I'm telling you, if I didn't tell you it was bean curd, you'd never know.

Of course the assistants have their own dining area. We know you guys will want to get together and talk about the latest Heidi and Spencer news. Let me show's right through this door. That's correct. Through the kitchen. Turn left at the Filet Mignon (ok, a few people are going to have meat. We snuck it in. Shhh). No, keep going past the sous chefs who are preparing the White Truffle. Yep. It's behind that door. The one that says EXIT on it. Your table is right next to the valet parking stand. Yeah. Next to the speed bump.

Have a great time!! And Happy Holidays."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A new Christmas Carol -- "O Silverman!"

Temp X is in the holiday spirit today. Perhaps it's the chill in the air. Maybe it's just remnants from yesterday's sugar high (wretched holiday candy!). Or perhaps it's the prospect of another strike. But whatever is making me feel Santa-stic, I'm just giddy.

So enjoy my ode to the holidays. And for everyone who can't afford trimmings for your Christmas tree due to your meager or non-existent wages, I've created a star you can top your shrubbery with.

O Silverman! O Silverman!
Thy network is so dying;
O Silverman! O Silverman!
Thy network you are killing;
Your programs suck when summer's here,
But also when 'tis cold and drear.
O Silverman! O Silverman!
I guess I will Chime In?

O Silverman! O Silverman!
Thy lay-offs will not help thee;
O Silverman! O Silverman!
You sought success with Rosie;
That she drew less than Knight Rider
Was not a big surprise-er!
O Silverman! O Silverman!
What ever are you smoking? (According to Nikki Finke not me.)

O Silverman! O Silverman!
You've got lots of "F-U" money!
O Silverman! O Silverman!
We are not all so lucky!
The prom wreckers you called "ugly,"
Are standing in line at EDD.
O Silverman! O Silverman!
And then you went skiing?!

Merry Christmas everyone?!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Stupid Interview Questions

Last week The Hollywood Temp Diaries kicked off a new item featuring the best stupid question you've gotten during an interview with a Tinseltown exec.

Here's one that came in from one of my loyal readers...

If you could be any part of a salad, what part would you be and why?

(I think it's becoming clearer how projects like Repo: The Genetic Opera get greenlit.)

If you have one of your own, please send them along to I promise your identity will be protected.

Friday, December 5, 2008

An Editorial from Temp X

I'm sure Nikki Finke is a lovely person. And I would be foolish to ignore the attention she's brought to my site. She offers a valued service to the Hollywood community and is certainly very popular. But let me be clear -- I am NOT EXPLOITING THE NEW LAYOFFS IN HOLLYWOOD as stated in yesterday's headline.

The above photo is my earnings statement from the Social Security Administration (dated November 19, 2008). As you can see I made $15,193 in 2006 (partly my responsibility as I took 2 months to write a script) and $25,082 in 2007. If my math is right, I'm on pace to make somewhere around $21,000 this year.

If this is indicative of exploitative behavior, then I'm worse for capitalism than the Bush administration. Further, my site is free. I have no advertisers. I spend a hell of a lot of time updating it (probably to the detriment of the projects I should be working on). So to suggest that I have nefarious goals is both absurd and illogical.

I offer my site as a way for fellow dregs of the entertainment society to laugh, commiserate and get information about getting out of that shitty, underpaying, (and dare I say) EXPLOITATIVE job they're at right now.

Certainly I some day hope to make it in Hollywood. It's something I've wanted to do since I was 12. And maybe this blog will help me get to that place. But I'm not counting on it.

P.S. And for the first comment from "Mysterious Stranger" that I am AMPTP president Nick Counter, if I am, I've negotiated the worst contract in history and should probably not head this organization.

P.P.S. Now that everyone knows how much I make, I'll never get a date. Sigh.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Don't say I didn't warn you

Knight Rider is dead. I know! Shocker. Let's take a look back and celebrate the great moments we had together before we never speak of it again...
I don't enjoy others failing. But I do enjoy crappy shows getting dumped in hopes that maybe, just maybe, they'll get replaced with something decent.

Ben, if you're listening, I have a few ideas I'd like to pitch to fill that vacant hour. The first one is about an evil TV producer-turned-network executive who profits handsomely while driving his network into the ground. Think Wall Street meets UHF. Nah, no one would believe that.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A New Feature -- Stupid Interview Questions

Hollywood is filled with morons. And with this reality comes another truth -- stupid people ask stupid questions.

The Hollywood Temp Diaries is starting a new item featuring the best of the stupid questions you've gotten during an interview. If you have some, please send them along to I promise your identity will be protected.

So to start this fun off, here's one I got at a production company...

Do you know how to ride a motorcycle?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Merry Xmas from SAG

That lump of coal SAG just put in your stocking is trading at $12.46 (+$0.86)...or as we Temps call it, an hours' pay. The following is the latest on the AMPTP/SAG negotiations.

Time for everyone to find a new career. I call dibs on being host of Jeopardy!

Member Town Hall Meeting in Los Angeles

The AMPTP has failed to address the needs of actors at the bargaining table despite the efforts of your negotiating team and the intervention of a federal mediator. Your national negotiating committee has directed that a strike authorization ballot be sent to paid up SAG members for their consideration and approval. This Town Hall meeting will give Hollywood members an update on the negotiations and a chance to ask questions about the upcoming strike authorization ballot referendum. A strike authorization from SAG members will show the AMPTP that the unique needs of actors cannot be addressed by a pattern of bargaining. Actors needs must be addressed for deal to be made. Don't miss this important meeting. Let your voice be heard.

When: Monday, December 8th, 2008
7 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Where: Harmony Gold Preview House
7655 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90046

Note: Please Bring your SAG membership card (paid thru October 2008) for admittance. Parents/Guardians of SAG members under 18 years old may attend with the minor.

[Note: If the preceding pisses you off or makes you fear for your job, read the following Open Letter to SAG. Send it to your friends. Maybe someone will pay attention to us.]

Hollywood Dictionary -- Volume 3

Etymology is a funny thing. One day "bad" and it means you dislike something. The next day it means it's the greatest thing ever. Hollywood offers its own lingo, but for the uninformed, all these terms sound like Gibberish.

So the folks at The Hollywood Temp Diaries are here to help you (see Part 1 and Part 2 for previous examples) and clue you into the popular vernacular in this town.

Avail (as in, "When is her next avail?") -- The truncated version of "availability." I'd write something clever here, but I'm busy now. Let me check my avails to do this later. Uh oh. I just did it, didn't I?

THX - Strangely this Hollywood term has nothing to do George Lucas' company or that earsplitting noise you'll hear at the multiplex. This is simply assistant speak for "thanks," which is the informal version of "thank you" (abbreviated "TY"). How is it that the abbreviation of the shortened version is actually longer than the abbreviation of the longer version?

Have (frequently used in, "I don't have this person") -- No one in Hollywood actually owns anything. Their BMW X5 - leased. Their idea for the next great movie - owned by the studio that made it the first time. Their date to the Benjamin Button premiere - an escort. So when an assistant says they "don't have" their boss, they simply mean this Hollywood exec is busy doing something way more important and is unavailable to speak to you. Such activities may include playing Guitar Hero, doing cocaine or flirting shamelessly with a client.

The Blacklist - One assistant famously thought this was a throwback to the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Actually it's just a just a list of the "best" unsigned movies, all of which will eventually be directed by Jason Reitman.

In the Canyon (used in, "I can't hear you, I'm in the Canyon") -- Your boss's iPhone can do everything from taking pictures, to playing music, to recommending which 5-star sushi restaurant they should expense today. The one thing it can't do is get good reception, especially when taking Laurel Canyon or Coldwater Canyon. This is also a Hollywood exec's best excuse for getting off the line with an agent by faking being "In the Canyon."

Monday, December 1, 2008

More news from outside Hollywoodland...

Like many do on Thanksgiving weekend, Temp X spent the last few days outside the Hollywood bubble. (Once every three months is all I get.) This is always fun because I'm quickly reminded that the rest of the world doesn't spend 24/7 talking about whatever project their "developing." For those of you who didn't venture north of the 210 freeway, south of the 105 or east of the 5 or west of PCH, here's what the rest of the world is doing and talking about...

Baby Pictures -- Holidays are a great time to get together with family and talk about what's new. But when you've added a new member to the family (say a spouse or in-laws) it's fun to talk about the good old days. Outside the bubble they do this by looking at baby pictures, elementary school yearbooks and vacation photos where you're in an outfit that you now attempt to re-create for Halloween.

Cold Stone Creamery -- Ice cream is a great treat for that break in between shopping and more shopping. Try their French Vanilla ice cream, mix in fudge, sprinkles and a brownie. Then drop the whole thing on a waffle cone. For the duration of the 1,000 calorie experience you'll have forgotten that the economy is in shambles, the stock market is tanking and your job will be gone within 3 months.

Politics -- Love him or think he's an uninformed blowhard, Bill O'Reilly can spark a fun conversation around a pile of leftover turkey, ham and stuffing. Just make sure that the discourse doesn't get too heated or food will start to fly like your average Jerry Springer Holiday Special.

Mid-terms -- Some people are lucky enough to be students and thus are oblivious to overnight ratings, SAG/AFTRA "negotiations" and what remake is next in line at the box office. These people talk about interesting topics like German propaganda in World War I and sin waves during the blending of cubic zirconium. [Tip for Assistants: Join the conversation and you'll be reminded your brain can be used for things other than getting a new Kleenex box for your boss.]

How awful the Rosie O'Donnell Special was
-- Like bad karaoke or your upstairs neighbors having sex at 3 a.m., some things are annoying and impossible to ignore. So even those outside the Hollywood bubble couldn't miss how bad this Ben Silverman dream was. Pick your least favorite part -- Conan O'Brien getting a pie in the face, Jane Krakowski doing a song of product placements or Rosie (still convinced she can sing) dueting with Liza Minelli. And you wonder why it only pulled a 1.2.