Thursday, August 28, 2008
If you didn't go anywhere, you can live vicariously through Mom X and Dad X. In these tough economic times, they apparently took my suggestions for cheap summer travel ideas and visited the Bronze Fonz in Milwaukee. Maybe next year they'll go to the World's Largest Collection of the World's Smallest Versions of the World's Largest Things.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Existential Crisis (eg-zi-sten-shuhl krahy-sis) -- 1. The psychologic panic and discomfort experienced when a human confronts questions of existence (e.g., Believing that one's life has no purpose or external meaning.) 2. A condition brought on by Temping in Hollywood.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
So many questions to be answered. Will Pam stay with Jim? Who has Ugly Betty's heart? Will the ladies of Wisteria Lane get their faces pulled back one more notch? I can feel the tension.
But instead of doing traditional fall preview (what's hot, what's not), I've decided to slice the information another way. I'm going strictly by the numbers. The end result, I'm afraid to report, will not heighten anticipation to a fever pitch. All it will do is underscore the sorry state (creatively and economically) of network programming. I tried. Really, I tried.
97 -- Total prime-time shows on the five major networks
33 -- Shows that are spin-offs, imported or from previously produced material*
20 -- Reality/Game shows**
9.4 -- Number of years (working 24 x 7) a PA from 2 1/2 Men will have to work to equal Charlie Sheen's weekly salary for 2 1/2 men.***
120 -- Length (in seconds) of a commercial break during a TV broadcast of Grey's Anatomy
30 - Length (in seconds) of a commercial break during a web broadcast of Grey's Anatomy
1 -- Number of nights the CW sold programming rights to Media Rights Capital
1 -- Number of talent agencies (Endeavor) with partial ownership of Media Rights Capital
13 -- Number of cast members for this season's Dancing with the Stars
7 -- Number of major motion pictures which star any of these DWTS cast members (excluding Frau Blucher -- neigh neigh)
13 -- Number of hour-long dramas on CBS
* Dancing with the Stars, Worst Week, Ugly Betty, Life on Mars, The Moment of Truth, Kitchen Nightmares, Kath & Kim, The Office, Wife Swap, Super Nanny, America's Funniest Home Videos, American Idol, Hell's Kitchen, Secret Millionaire, 90210, Knight Rider, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles, Law & Order: SVU, Private Practice, The Game, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, The Cleveland Show, The Office spin-off, Privileged, Lipstick Jungle, Smallville, Crusoe, Eleventh Hour, The Ex-List and Merlin
**Dancing with the Stars, America's Toughest Jobs, Biggest Loser, America's Next Top Model, Stylista, Deal or No Deal, Survivor, Moment of Truth, Kitchen Nightmares, Wife Swap, Super Nanny, Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader, Don't forget the Lyrics, Cops, Americas Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, America's Funniest Home Videos, The Amazing Race and American Idol
***based on Sheen's reported salary of $825,000/week and typical PA salary of $10/hr.****CSI, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, NCIS, Without a Trace, Numbers, Cold Case, Eleventh Hour, Criminal Minds, The Mentalist
Monday, August 25, 2008
Friday, August 22, 2008
And then I started to receive hate mail. So there went that plan.
It's been a busy week at the Hollywood Temp Diaries. The postings that documented my various interview rejections drew a slew of responses (if you missed them, they ran Monday and Tuesday). To those who offer support, I thank you. To those who wish me to fail, let me remind you -- I'm a college grad who is now a Temp. When I work, I get $12/hr. I don't get paid vacation. The printer/fax/copier gets more respect than I do. So if you're wishing me ill, you're too late. I'm already there.
Here are some of the highlights. Can't we all just get along?
the only thing worse than your rejection letter/vm posts is how you choose to express your dejection of the rejection. take it as best you can, but no need to ejaculate your pain across the blogosphere.
oh, and i work at the place from yesterday's post. i sit next to the guy who wrote that letter. he's figured out who you are. of course, it's not like this company hasn't been pissed off enough by people posting things online (i.e. nikki finke). glad we kept your resume, temp
Temp X reply
I know who you are too. You're the capitalization- and punctuation-challenged poet -- e e cummings. What an honor that you're reading my stuff! Since you know who I am, I would appreciate a poem for when my birthday comes around -- but not in your usual sonnet style. That's so predictable.
To the previous anonymous commenter: Isn't that the point of Temp X's blog? It's his humorous skewering of this ridiculous town. If you don't like it, don't read it everyday. And maybe if more than one person thinks your company sucks, it might actually, you know, SUCK. Ever think of that?
Way to miss the humor in this blog, Jackhole.
Temp X reply
Wrong! The point of this blog is it's a lot cheaper than therapy. Also, please don't encourage people not to read this. It'll lower my advertising rates.
To the person who sits next to the "guy who wrote that letter" --
It's uppity little f*ckers like you that willingly enable the decline of industry credibility. Show a little solidarity and stop pretending you aren't as insignificant as the next asshole.
And when you're done with that, go get me a coffee, douchebag.
Temp X reply
Clearly this person had too much coffee already. And as for industry credibility, Hollywood "jumped that shark" sometime between the release of Glitter and From Justin to Kelly.
I look forward to when Temp X is CEO of a major studio. I am certain he will personally take rejected candidates out for a Jamba juice (with the obligatory wheat-grass shot) and give them the straight dope. "Look, dude. You have zero personality. Your breath stinks. And we really wanted to go with someone who was a 36C. But thanks for applying!"
Temp X reply
I too look forward to the day when I'm CEO of a major studio. At the rate I'm going, that should be in about the year 2352, which will coincide with the year Sumner Redstone retires from Viacom.
i love temp x. seriously. we need more people like you working next to us.
Temp X reply
I love me too. That's Hollywood for you, a bunch of narcissists in need of constant validation from people they don't know. You can count me among them.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Some of these freshman will enroll in film school with dreams of making it in Hollywood. They'll take classes like "Screen Writing" or "Film History" and get to watch Battleship Potemkin, Birth of a Nation and Un Chien Andalou. Not so lucky kids.
But there's a bunch of classes that colleges don't offer. So to college administrators, I encourage you to update your offerings to keep pace with Hollywood. As Whitney Houston tells us,
Ass-Kissing 101: Learn how to convincingly say to your boss things like, "What hair plugs? I didn't notice." and "Of course I don't mind staying until 10:30 p.m. I enjoy cleaning your office." Includes Thursday night lab: Brewing the perfect latte.
Film History and Re-History: This course teaches the fine art of taking a classic movie and remaking it into a substandard version that will bomb. Case studies include Rollerball, Stepford Wives, The Poseidon Adventure, Planet of the Apes, Fever Pitch, House of Wax, The Shaggy Dog and about 100 other movies.
Spanish for Executives/Spanisho for Executivos: Raiding top-rated Latin American programs and bringing them to the U.S. is THE major trend in Hollywood (well, that and "fixing" a deviated septum). It's low risk and so simple a child can do it. In this class you'll learn to say things like, "I worko for el NBC. I want to buyo your programo. We no like to spend dinero for original conceptos."
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
ProStars: The movie -- Adaptation of the short-lived but popular kids TV cartoon starring Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson and Wayne Gretzky as they pass on their superhuman powers to the next generation of stars (LeBron, etc...)Worst idea ever, right? Wrong. Allow me to take you back in time to a simpler era...
The year was 1996. The Unemployment Rate was 5.4 and falling. Little Miss Sunshine, Abigail Breslin, was born. The Hoover Institution said Global Warming "would probably reduce mortality in the United States and provide Americans with valuable benefits." And Space Jam reigned supreme at the box office. It did? Really? You mean the film with noted thespians Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing? The one where NBA stars play basketball against animated aliens? Yep.
Now that you've had a chance to revisit a time when you knew what the meaning of the word "is" is, let's guess Space Jam's worldwide take (in 1996 dollars):
A. $40 millionThe correct answer is $230 million on an $80 million budget. You still ProStars: The Movie is a bad idea? Not for the studio that cleared $150 million.
B. $80 million
C. $160 million
D. $230 million
The clip below will hold you over until it hits the theaters. Just make sure to save me a seat when it does.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Like any good remake (e.g., Gus Van Sant's Psycho), it needs a little something to let the audience know you didn't just make an exact copy. Oh wait. Psycho matched the original shot-for-shot. Perhaps a better example is The Invasion. And since no one saw it ($15 million domestic gross on an $80 million budget), I can make reference to the Blimp fight at the end and you'll just have to believe me.
Temp X recently interviewed with [Company Name Redacted]. The interview went well and I got a call on Friday to schedule a second round. I was giddy. One more round and I could be a fully-fledged assistant. Could this really be the end of Temp X?
Temp X received a rejection voicemail on Monday. While it's nice that they bothered to send one (they're in the minority), I suppose I was hoping for a better explanation given that I'd already scheduled the next round. Since no one in Hollywood says what they mean (except me), I suppose I'll have to interpret the voicemail for them. So here it goes...
Hi this is [Name Redacted] from [Company Redacted]. I'm calling regarding your interview tomorrow (thank God you're not answering the phone!). As it turns out we found a candidate (this one was holding) today and given the urgency in filling this position (the boss is going through withdrawal and it's getting ugly), we've extended an offer and this person accepted (meaning you're outta luck). Please call me to confirm that you received this message (I won't pick up so as to avoid an awkward situation). Best of luck in your job search.A typical Hollywood remake -- add a little more suspense and make a slightly happier ending (the "Best of Luck" line) and it'll play well in the "Fly-over" states.
Monday, August 18, 2008
I was giddy. One more round and I could be a fully-fledged assistant. Could this really be the end of Temp X?
Temp X received the a rejection email on Friday. While it's nice that they bothered to send one (they're in the minority), I suppose I was hoping for a better explanation given the guarantee from the interviewer. Since no one in Hollywood says what they mean (except me), I suppose I'll have to interpret their email for them. So here it goes...
(No salutation as I'm cutting and pasting this from another email)
Thank you for your interest in the position (whatever position this is, as I'm cutting and pasting this from another email.)
After careful consideration (the other candidates were better looking, related or holding), we (even though you only interviewed with me, I am worthy of the Royal "We") have decided to go in a different direction ("We" consider you not to be a "candidate" but a "direction") and you are no longer being considered at this time (or any other time).
Please know that this was a very difficult decision (I agonized over this for...oh who am I kidding, I forgot your name during the interview), and that you were an extremely qualified and personable candidate (because using "direction" here would be grammatically incorrect).
We (I'm still a collective noun) will keep your resume on file (strictly as an EEOC and legal requirement) and contact you should another position in the department (whatever department this is, as "We're" cutting and pasting this from another email) opens up in the near future (never).
How close am I?
Friday, August 15, 2008
Certainly a curious thing to hear when at the start of a job interview. But such is life in Hollywood. People say things like that in interviews and the applicant (in this case, Temp X) doesn't run out the door and call the Department of Labor.
"I completely understand. To get where I want in this town, that's something I'm more than willing to be."
I lied. No one wants to be anyone's "Bitch." No one wants to be anyone's nanny, office wife/husband, babysitter, memory or otherwise. But we sit there and smile and agree.
"I really need to impress upon you that you're really gonna be his Bitch. You're gonna do bitch work like making copies, setting appointments, emailing scripts. It's a lot of Bitch work."
Clearly someone was taking their "Word of the Day" calendar a bit too seriously. You can probably just use the term once. No need to employ it in every sentence.
"I'm eager to learn and this is a great environment to do it. [Name redacted] is a legend. I can't think of a place I'd rather work."
I lied again. I was just tired of calling my Pimps every Friday to let them know I'm available. I often feel like the day laborers standing outside of Home Depot. Except those guys get paid more. A steady job would be nice.
"Do you know how to roll calls? Are you good with computers."
I hate this question. It takes my entire education, work history, intellect, interests and life experience and boils it down to my ability to push buttons in sequence. Lemme check. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs. Ok that worked. One more test. 424-288-2000. I believe I'm in the clear.
"Yeah. Both Mac and PC. I'm a pro at rolling calls."
"Great. Oh, and it pays $400 per week. Well, I gotta get back to the desk. We'll be in touch."
And that was it. That was my interview. I just told someone I want to be [Name Redacted]'s copy-making, appointment-setting, script-emailing, button-pushing, $10-per-hour Bitch. All this said, I still want the job.
THAT is life in Hollywood. What a Bitch.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
ABC is bringing the Jennifer Lopez starrer "Maid in Manhattan" to the small screen.So does this mean the show takes place in Manhattan, Colorado? Manhattan, Illinois? Or Manhattan, Kansas?
The network is in negotiations for a series adaptation of the 2002 romantic comedy to be penned by Chad Hodge and executive produced by Lopez, Joe Roth and the film's producer, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas.
The hourlong dramedy, which is getting a put pilot commitment, is not a remake of the hit feature, which centered on Marisa Ventura (Lopez), a struggling single mother from the Bronx who works as a maid at a swanky Manhattan hotel, where a rising politician guest (Ralph Fiennes) falls for her after mistaking her for a wealthy socialite.
"The show is a different maid in a different Manhattan," Hodge said.
But today I'd like to help out my friends at NBC. I give them a lot of grief and/or tough love. Sure their ratings have been stuck in the cellar longer than the Senator Martin's daughter in Silence of the Lambs. But I, Temp X, hero of the underpaid and underemployed, have a solution for the Peacock Network -- all Olympics all the time.
Scoff as you might, but Ben Silverman's little network that could is killing everything. The Olympics delivered NBC's most watched show since the Friends series finale (52.5 million) with last Friday's Opening Ceremony (35 million). Now close your eyes and imagine a crossover episode where Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Joey, Monica and Lisa Kudrow go to Beijing. Goodbye, Farewell and Amen to M*A*S*H atop the all-time TV leader board.
Ok, perhaps these ideas are a tad unrealistic. But what if they picked the best elements from the Olympics and incorporated them into their normal programming? Hmm....
Sweaty Women in Bikinis -- Chuckle as you might, but Misty May and Kerri Walsh are bumping, setting and spiking (volleyball terms you pervs!) their way to the top of the Nielsens in their microkinis. Oh, and you probably know this same concept worked for the most watch show in world history -- Baywatch (a show that NBC canceled). So how about this idea -- a game show with models wearing slightly more than nothing and...err...oh, wait. That's Deal or No Deal.
Good Looking Men all Wet -- The "story" of the Olympics is Michael Phelps and his pursuit the Gold Medal record set by Mark Spitz and his pornstar moustache. But the real story for the ladies is hunky guys who are all wet. Meee-ow! And how could you forget the Water Polo players? May I recommend to NBC development a show where buff men in their early 20s often parade around shirtless and...oh...whatever happened to Friday Night Lights anyway?
People Eating Weird Food -- I like nothing more than watching reporters go to the Chinese markets and enjoy the local fare. So far I've seen two different NBC "news" people eat scorpions, lizards and duck head and pretend to enjoy it. These segments are rating dynamite. You want to turn away, but you can't help but watch. Maybe Ben and the Regurgitators could make a show where people do this same...oh wait...that was Fear Factor.
Well, maybe NBC has done all it can? That is unless it can make Fox, ABC and CBS run repeats all the time.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Is this fiscally responsible? Probably in the short term. But don't forget that TNT's The Closer pulled 7.9 million viewers last week (which would tie it for 10th place in the network Nielsens). Be careful Messieurs McPherson and Moonves. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but there's a risk to being risk averse.
Here's what you'll get to see again sometime soon:
Oh goodie! A cop drama set against the backdrop of people wearing as few clothes as possible. I guess I won't need to watch CSI: Miami anymore. Casting agents can thank me now when I make the obvious suggestion for Jack Lord's role -- Chris Isaak. Or if you want to skew younger, the coif-du-jour is Zak Effron.
Streets of San Francisco
I can only assume they're going to focus on San Francisco's real problems - homelessness, decaying infrastructure, boom/bust economic cycles and woefully underfunded public transit. However if they're looking to solve violent crime, might I suggest concentrating their efforts east of Van Ness. Since Karl Malden and Michael Douglas are both 96 years old, Stone and Keller will be played by Ed O'Neill and Ben McKenzie.
The Witches of Eastwick
May I suggest a cast of Rose McGowan, Shannen Doherty and Alyssa Milano? (Hey look, a Charmed joke. Couldn't see that coming!) But seriously folks, what makes anyone think a show concept that couldn't get off the ground TWICE and is based on a movie from the Reagan administration is gonna work now? Well, I suppose it could air opposite Celebrity Family Feud, in which case it stands a good chance.
Other announced retreads include the Star Wars series, Match Game and the already airing Dave Attell vehicle The Gong Show. Could a remake of The New Adventures of Beans Baxter be far behind?
Forget writing pilots, I'm just gonna buy the rights to everything on Nick-at-Nite.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
The Hollywood Temp Diaries is not turning into PC Week. But I'd like to offer you links to software that'll save you money (because they're all free). Trust me, no one will know the difference.
[Cost for Final Draft -- $200]
Sure, lemme just go out and drop a few hundred on Final Draft. And instead of eating, I'll suppress my appetite by smoking these unfinished cigarettes. Or you can download one of these. I've used both and prefer Celtx. They both have their shortcomings as neither has a setting for a 3-camera sitcom format (but you should be shot for writing one anyway). They both allow you to make the file into a pdf.
- Cinergy -- http://www.mindstarprods.com/cinergy/ScriptEditor.html
- Celtx -- http://www.celtx.com/
Video Editing Software
[Cost for Final Cut Express -- $200]
Macs come with iMovie, which isn't bad. PCs come with some crappy program which is...well...crappy. I'm not an editor. Truth be told, I still look at the keyboard when I type. But these programs look cool and seem to do more than either of the pre-installed software. It ain't Avid or Final Cut, but you're not George Lucas and the price is right.
Word Processor, Spreadsheet and PowerPoint
[Cost for MS Office -- $200-$600]
Your new laptop is cheap, but like the razor industry, they get you by jacking up the price on things that make it work. I use pen and paper because they don't have Internet access - thus no distractions. But for those who like them new-fangled computers (they're a fad), these are really good alternatives. Google Docs is much improved from earlier versions and you can access anywhere -- even at work (except for CAA, which blocks access). OpenOffice can be clunky. But maybe you like clunky?
[Cost for Photoshop -- $650]
For those moments that you need a cool still for your video or reality show treatment, there's no substitute for good photo editing software. If nothing else you can graft together a picture of you with Ari Emanuel and tell your friends you met the guy from Entourage.
Monday, August 11, 2008
No work today
No calls from my Temp Pimp
No measurable brain activity
No need to take a shower
No interest in the Olympics, Jerry Springer or Oprah
No agent or manager to call
No love life
No 401(k) contributions
No paid vacation, sick days or floating holidays
No energy to write
No desire to pay bills
No nice car
No 3 bedroom/2.5 bath house/Infinity pool
No food in the apartment
No interest in doing laundry, vacuuming or washing dishes
No place to go
No one to even tell me "No"
No desire to work in Reality TV
No interest in working for "No - Pay; Yes - Copy/Credit/Meals"
No need to get out of bed or go outside
No wonder it's that kind of day
Friday, August 8, 2008
I could see by my watch, without even taking my hand off the toner cartridge that it was eight-thirty in the evening. The building's HVAC system had just shut off for the night, meaning the copier room was about to get really hot really fast. And I had another forty scripts to copy and ship out that night.
I work in a nondescript office building in Century City, a sterile enclave of high rises, over-priced chain restaurants and Fox Studios. For a part of Los Angeles in which so many people work, it's remarkable that you can walk for miles and the only sight of human life comes in a Porche whooshing by on the Avenue of the Stars. But now it was after hours, and those cars aren't even there. It's just me and Chris slaving away.
We were both recently accepted into the agent training program, which means we work in the mail room. I have a Bachelor's degree in English and Mass Communications from Northwestern. Chris just finished his MBA at Stanford and worked for five years at J.P. Morgan. These skills matter not to our employer. They've decided the best use of our talents include sorting mail, cleaning conference rooms and covering for the receptionist while she's on her smoke break. (She went to NYU film school and wants to produce.) If you listen closely you can hear our brains atrophy. Of course, you'll need to filter out the agents' screaming and the assistants' crying to hear that.
But it's late now. They've all gone for the day. Dining at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Stealing clients most likely. Even if it's work, they'll be able to expense a meal that costs more than I make in a week. And then they'll complain about the service or the soup or the fold of the napkins. Whatever it is, I'll hear all about it while I do their expense report.
So I stay here, next to the Xerox 914, a machine that's ill-suited for the job required. But it's the only one that's working. That is until about five minutes ago. Somewhere between an All in the Family spec and a original screenplay called The Feminine Mistake (no doubt causing Betty Friedan grand upset) there was a paper jam. The display panel said the chaos began in the paper feeder. It lied.
The smell of fuser burn combined with my own ripe scent hangs in front of the machine as I try to repair it. It was at that moment my experiences on the backroads of South Dakota on my Suzuki T10 Twin 250 returned to the fore of my temporal lobe. I'd recalled in Phaedrus, Pluto focused on consciousness of the journey rather than achieving the destination. I had attempted to incorporate that into my mail room responsibilities. To live in the moment. But I couldn't get past that fear of "Stuckness" - that somehow this collection of wires and rollers and toner that lay before me was my destiny. That all I'd studied and learned and believed about Quality was simply a myth shoved into Reality's back corner. I was simply a slave to a culture of risk-averse executives, nepotism and verbal regurgitation.
I was in my moment of "Stuckness," and for a moment, I became a non-believer. Then the Xerox 914 started working again, and I forgot what I was thinking about.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Click the cute little arrow above to advance slides.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
These titles for upcoming movies suck as they either tell you everything or nothing about the film. Which movie title would you change first?
Surfer, Dude -- 13%
Beverly Hills Chihuahua -- 34%
Quantum of Solace -- 32%
Monday, August 4, 2008
Those of us buried under the backsides of the insiders spend too much time engaging in industry chat. Now having spent five days outside the Hollywood bubble, here's what the rest of America isn't talking about:
Nielsen Ratings: Nary a blip on the conversational radar that the season premiere of Mad Men delivered ratings that thumped last year's season average (although only marginally better on a YOY basis). In fact most people seemed blissfully unaware that AMC is even a network, with many still thinking the acronym is that of American Motors Corporation, the inventor of the Jeep.
What people are discussing instead: That they went to the park last evening and played around until sunset at 8:30 pm.
TMZ, Defamer, Perez Hilton or Nikki Finke: It appears the blogosphere has geographic boundaries as the obsession with everything Hollywood appears to be limited to...well...only within Hollywood.
What people are discussing instead: Real news, like what they saw on CNN, heard on NPR or read in the local paper (or, when prompted in the Hollywood Temp Diaries).
What people are discussing instead: The election, the economy and that their employers are freezing salaries and cutting bonuses.
Miley Cyrus: Discussions of the teen queen, her penchant for dressing up in bikinis and taking photos of herself, her heated rivalry with Selena Gomez continue to not dominate news outside Hollywoodland.
What people are discussing instead: Their own children.
And with that update I can unequivocally say, it's good to be back. All that intellectual discourse was too much for my tiny little brain.