Friday, May 29, 2009

Sarcasm-Free Week: Day 4

Well, I made it. I didn't think I could go a week (granted it was a short week) without a snarky, sarcastic posting about Hollywood. Hope I brightened up your week just a little bit.

Starting next Monday, I will return to the confused, socially-awkward and unemployable person you've come to know and love. Before I go, I have one last tidbit of a thought...

Open your mind to new ideas.

While I'm loathe to admit it, people are genuinely entertained by reality programs. Just ask the folks at Endemol or Fremantle about the success of shows like American Idol, Big Brother and Wipeout. But just 10 years ago reality shows were nary a blip on the TV landscape. The music industry and its retailers fell apart while iTunes took over. Just ask anyone who worked at Tower Records, Sam Goody or Sony's Walkman division.

I don't know what major shifts will hit the entertainment industry next or what they'll mean to my desire to write for a living. I just need to make sure I don't say "No" because I want to hold on to something that's gonna change whether I want it to or not.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sarcasm-Free Week: Day 3

I've hit the half-way point in my quest to achieve a sarcasm-free week. And I feel pretty good about it. I hope some of these happy vibes have rubbed off on you. These are challenging times, so take joy where you can find it.

I've heard too many people in Hollywood (myself included) say they live here because they have to, not because they want to. Or when asked their thoughts about L.A. they say, "It's ok. It's not like (city they lived in before here)."

This serves as a nice transition to today's recommendation...

Have some fun.

Sure LA doesn't have the vibrancy of New York. It doesn't have the natural beauty of San Francisco. Or the friendliness of Chicago. But it does have a lot to offer. L.A. has relaxing sunsets, wonderful beaches*, very cool ethnic neighborhoods and an abundance of burger joints.

Trying to make it in the entertainment industry is very stressful. So if you can, take some time to have a little fun. It's your home. Make yourself comfortable.

* They're not crowded during the week!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sarcasm-Free Week: Day 2

This isn't as easy as I thought. So many things that I could write about -- the Upfronts, Jay Leno's countdown season?, contacts that aren't worth a rat's patootie -- but a promise is a promise. I will, go sarcasm free for a week.

Be proud of the risk you're taking.

For the overwhelming majority of us, Hollywood is really a risk. It's a financial risk. It's an emotional risk. It's an occupational risk. You could write/act/etc. for 20 years and be no further along than you are today. This is a sobering thought because this means countless rejections combined with the economic stress of low-paying work in an expensive town.

Life is short, but it's much too long to live with regret. Be proud that you're passionate enough about something to invest years of your life in it.

And here's hoping that it pays off just the way you want it to.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sarcasm-Free Week: Day 1

Call me slow or embarrassingly oblivious, but I recently realized I've spent way too much time being snarky and bitter about Hollywood. This constant analysis of what I perceive to be hypocrisy, limited creativity and shameless behavior was catching up with me in a big way. And if my feelings started to rub off on you, I'm sorry. Your life in Hollywood was supposed to be an adventure in pursuing your passion, not a bunch of grousing about how you're getting screwed over.

So for the next four days I will impart only positivity and a few recommendations on making Hollywood a better place. Let's share a spirit of camaraderie because it's something decent people should do for each other.

Help someone out today.

It's simple and easy to do, so give it a shot. Read an unsolicited script. Interview (or maybe even hire) a person who isn't related to someone famous. Offer to mentor someone new to the industry. Schedule a pitch meeting with someone who doesn't have an agent. Share the UTA joblist with the newly unemployed (whether college grads or William Morris employees). Remember you were once a nobody too.

We don't always need to compete. Sometimes we can just be nice. I'm gonna try it. Join me.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Non NDA-violating gossip

None of you know who Chris Mills is, but I do. The 6'7" forward from Fairfax High School was a highly-recruited basketball player back in the late 1980s. But his recruitment ended up making headlines when an overnight delivery package, allegedly from a University of Kentucky booster, split open revealing wads of cash. This resulted in three years probation for UK basketball, head coach Eddie Sutton quit, Eddie's kid Sean was charged with lying to investigators and a whole bunch of other stuff.

Luckily overnight package technology has improved since then.

As I've mentioned before, during my Hollywood tenure, I've witnessed a lot of interesting things. So I thought I'd share some of them. I think I'm staying true to my NDA, but if I'm not, screw it. These are good morsels of blind gossip.
Which network executive had drugs (the fun smokable kind) FedEx-ed on the company dime to his hotel room?
If you have any non-NDA violating info, send it my way at I will never tell anyone who you are.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Truth about Hollywood

It's been well documented that before this town's fabled sign read "Hollywood," it actually read "Hollywoodland." What's not quite as well known is why the name was shortened. The truth is the sign was originally built in three parts -- "Holly," "wood" and "land" -- laid end to end. But shoddy construction combined with a mild 4.3 earthquake caused the "land" part of the sign to collapse. And the new name just stuck. Fascinating, eh?

It's a lie. I made the whole thing up. But that's Hollywood for you. People in this town will look you square in the face, smile and without hesitation or remorse serve up the biggest pile of bullshit since Nixon uttered "I am not a crook." But, as always, Temp X is here to guide you through moments like this.

Following are some frequently told Hollywood lies and the reality of the situation. Do not be fooled.

Statement: I'll call you right back.
Reality: While not technically a lie, it certainly skirts the boundaries of truth. The issue here is that the person will use the convenient crutch -- he's a part-time member of the Carl Sagan Fan Club. This allows that person to say things like "Relative to the 14-billion year history of the Universe, the three months since you left word are nothing more than a blip." Astrophysics are hard to argue when all you've got is an MFA.

Statement: Of course I read your script. But my notes are at home.
Reality: The easiest way to know this is an untruth is if an executive tells you this, as none of them can read or write. That's why they work in a visual mediums of film and TV. Just fire up the camera and start talking. Why do you think reality TV is so pervasive? No scripts to read. If an assistant tells you this, they're actually just making final tweaks on it before registering it with the WGA as their own. That's right, there are scummy assistants too.

Statement: You're hired.
Reality: You've unknowingly been "hired" as an unpaid intern. You will only find this out after working a couple of 70-hour weeks. When you threaten to quit, they threaten you, "You'll never work in this town again!" So you stay and work for free because they might just be right. Fear sucks.

Statement: I really liked it your script. Let me figure out next steps.
Reality: Typically a statement like this would be an encouraging sign when coming from a studio executive. It seemingly indicates interest. Do not be fooled. Do not take yourself out for a celebratory dinner at Sushi Roku as it'll be an exercise in disappointment (and not just because of their over-priced sashimi). The truth is this person is anyone studio executive is as honest as Baron Munchausen and slightly less sane. Oh, and that "Next Step" usually ends up being them blocking your calls.

Statement: Of course they're real.
Reality: A lie most of us a perfectly ok with. If you can touch them, they're real, even if they're not.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Five Stages of Unemployment

The economy continues to worsen. And with it, anxiety about layoffs is on the rise. You'd like to see a therapist to explain the emotions you're feeling, but you never got health insurance. Instead you're stuck perusing the web for approximate explanations of your whip-saw moods. Until now.

Temp X has a track record of providing sound psychological and medical advice to the underserved. Think of me as "Doctors without Borders without Qualifications." I will now dispense more of this with the insight and understanding of a medical marijuana dealer...err...provider.

As you prepare for your inevitable layoff, be mindful that there are FIVE STAGES you're likely to experience. If you're prepared for each one of them, you can make it through them with minimal psychological damage...

The "this can't be happening to me because I'm way more qualified than the person they kept, even if she has 36 Cs and a butt you could bounce a dollar bill off of" stage. This is often accompanied by repeatedly gazing at your graduation photos on Facebook where you're in cap and gown and gleefully holding your now meaningless diploma from Tisch. You'll begin wondering if you should have spent that money on plastic surgery instead.

The "why me?" stage. You'll spend a lot of time wanting to get even with your boss, so you print out of all his salacious emails to that aspiring starlet. You actively consider blackmail, calling his wife or (the more pedestrian idea) sabotaging his office chair. But you realize you have no desire to be cellmates with someone whose prison nickname is "Epidural." So you grind you teeth instead.
[Note: If you choose to get drunk during lunch the day you receive notice, make sure to go back and do your boss's expenses. He won't know that you screwed up until long after you're gone.]
Bargaining often takes place just before your company publicly announces layoffs, but after they've been announced in needlessly graphic detail on Deadline Hollywood. You beg, wish and pray to get your mind-numbingly dull job back because rent isn't free. This stage is often accompanied by showing up to work the following day wearing a top slightly tighter than a corset and a skirt that Tila Tequila might wear. Unfortunately it's too late, and the only person willing to take the bait is the FedEx delivery guy.

Overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, frustration, bitterness, self pity brought on by spending hours dialing in to California Employment Development Department (1-800-300-5616) only to repeatedly receive the "Call back when we're less busy -- we recommend mid-week" recording. You look at your watch and realize it's 12 noon on a Wednesday, the definition of mid-week.
For the first time in months you smile as you realize you're getting paid to lay on your couch and play video games. Unemployment isn't all that bad.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hollywood Dictionary: Part 10 -- Poopy Jokes

The more time I spend in Hollywood, the more I forget nothing out here makes sense. So before I completely lose any sense of perspective, here's more from the Hollywood Dictionary...

#2 -- Hollywood Execs are very status conscious. The more an Exec has of any one thing (cars, houses, mistresses, assistants), the higher he is on the Formosan Termite-infested Totem Pole that is Hollywood. This construct hearkens back to Ancient Egypt where slaves, monuments and funny hats indicated Pharaoh's perceived power. The "#2" is a Hollywood Exec's second assistant. It's also known in assistant circles as the "Shit Spot," because it does all the shit work that #1 assistant doesn't want to do.

[Note: If your boss commissions (and expenses) artwork that offers major similarities to Thutmose's famed Bust of Nefertiti, he might be taking this comparison between Egyptian tyrants and Hollywood tyrants a little too far.]

Series Regular -- This has nothing to do with the effects of a consuming caffeine, cigarettes and Caesar Salad (dressing on the side) is a specific order. Although now that I mention it, I might have just come up with the new Hollywood Miracle diet -- that is if you can have time to audition between runs to the john. A "Series Regular" is a cast member of a particular show who is signed on for an extended period of time, or until they view themselves as too important and their character gets killed. See Katherine Heigl or Jorja Fox.

Master Cleanse -- This "Roto-Rooter diet" is supposed to clean out your innards by drinking a melange of maple syrup, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and water. It is a very popular weight loss program among celebs who have an aversion to bulimia (too messy) or diet & exercise (too sweaty). Beyonce dropped 20 pounds with it before Dreamgirls. Jaret Leno shed 62 pounds before starring in some unknown flick called Chapter 27. [Hollywood Rumor: The local grocery chain Trader Joe's has a special section where they sell all these items together.] And if the Master Cleanse doesn't work, there's always the Dual-Action Cleanse as brought to you by John Waters doppelganger.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The network upfronts are next week. Which is most likely to happen at these liquor-soaked events?

ABC will do something bland. -- 16%

CBS announces it will only air "CSI" and "2 1/2 Men." -- 16%

Fox will trot out a clearly bored Simon Cowell to make snarky remarks. -- 6%

NBC will forget to show up. -- 13%

The CW will change their name to "Fox circa 1995." -- 6%

Nothing, because no one can afford to advertise. -- 39%

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

SMOKEDJA -- Darling Nikki is a fucking rad dude

[Note: For those of you who don't like when I make fun of Nikki Finke, please avert your gaze.]

I was recently poking through DHD to get my fix of self-congratulatory journalism, when I came across a funny little nugget. One of Darling Nikki's advertisers is for the upcoming smog-a-thon that is the THC Expo (Translation: Pot fair).

Knowing her anti-drug sentiment (or at least general concern about network execs passing a pee test), I was immediately thrown for a loop. And then it all made sense. Nikki's a stoner. 420 friendly. Holding. Totally unharsh. What evidence do I have?

-- She's awfully interested in the ongoings at Lions Gate (or is it Lionsgate, no one seems to know), the company that produces the Showtime hit Weeds and made stoner flicks like Heavy Metal 2000 and Repo! The Genetic Opera.

-- Nikki offered endless coverage of Comicon, an event that caters to stoners and weirdos who sit around and create cartoon characters like X-men, Racer X and...err...well anyway. Her "correspondent" for Comicon is Luke Y Thompson, which also happens to be an anagram for "Holy Pot. Me Sunk," a phrase potheads use when the cops are about to bust them.

-- And then there's today's ad (see below) for the Koreatown Collective a "medical marijauna (sic) collective that strives to offer the best prices and quality in the area."*

Nikki, I'm sorry. You're much cooler than I thought. Lemme know which of the upcoming Phish shows you wanna go see. I'm unemployed, so my schedule is clear.

* Yes, I do recognize the inherent humor of a pot dispensery misspelling marijuana.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

525,600 Minutes

Ask someone who has been in Hollywood for a while and not gotten a break how much longer until he/she gives up and moves. I can guarantee every person will say, "I'll give it just one more year." Why a year? Because it's a time frame that shows you're committed, but it's not so long that people think you should be committed.

With that in mind, I'd like to offer The Hollywood Temp Diaries version of the song from RENT "Seasons of Love (525,600 minutes)."

525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments to fear.
525,600 minutes - how do you measure a Hollywood year?

In Prozac, in Temp jobs, in traffic, in job rejections.

In "pay checks," in binges, in purges, in flying telephones.
In 525,600 minutes - how do you measure a Hollywood year?

How about tears? How about tears? How about tears?

Measure the tears. A Hollywood year.

525,600 minutes! 525,000 resumes to send.
525,600 minutes - how long until you know it's the end?

In lies that she heard, or in faxes he sent.
In specs that he wrote, or to auditions she went.

It’s time now to check out, tho you can never leave.
Your link to Hollywood, it's a tie you can not cleave.

Remember the love! Remember the love! Remember the love!

Measure in love. Hollywood love! Hollywood love.

Oh, and if you ask me tomorrow how much longer I plan to stay here, the answer is "Just one more year."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Introducing Yenta

You moved to Hollywood to make movies (or if that didn't work, you'd go slumming and do TV). So far, nothing has happened and instead you're fetching coffee for some prick with a Napoleon complex and a mistress. Then you go home, drink and wonder whether you'll ever use anything you learned in Film Production 301. As always, I'm here to help.

Today marks the official launch of Yenta (, a matchmaking site for aspiring Hollywood types (producers, actors, writers, etc.) This site hooks up people who want to make films, TV or web series but don't have all the pieces in place to get started.

For example, if you have script, but need actors or a director to bring it to life, post a request under "I NEED...". Or if you're an editor looking for a project, post a request under "I CAN..."

All you need to do is s
end me an email at and explain:

1 - What you need/can do.
2 - Whether or not you can pay/will work for free.
3 - The best way for someone interested to reach you.

Why not spend your spare time working with people like you and make actual product? Maybe you'll get discovered. Maybe you won't. Either way, it's better than sitting home watching the People's Court.

[Note: I know nothing about matchmaking, the web or Hollywood. So if you have any ideas about how to improve Yenta, drop me a line. Oh, and I'll leave your posting up for a month unless you tell me to take it down sooner.]

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

News from outside Hollywoodland

My liver is broken. My cardio has taken a big hit. But it was all worth going to New Orleans for Jazzfest. In two days I saw George Clinton, Neil Young, Buddy Guy, Bon Jovi, the Neville Brothers and a bunch of groups that you've never heard of, but were excellent. I had a gator po' boy, the best pecan pie ever and oysters upon oysters. But the best part of all, was just spending time not talking about the latest in Hollywood, the WMA/Endeavor merger, the upfronts and SAG. I know I was lucky to go there, and thus I thought I'd share a little bit of what people are discussing outside our little bubble.

What does alligator taste like?
The catch-all phrase "it tastes like chicken" does not apply here. I'd say it tastes more like shrimp but a little meatier. It goes quite well with about a quarter-cup of Crystal Hot Sauce (not Tabasco) and a few of New Orleans best brew - Abita.

The Bulls/Celtics Game Six
During my years in Chicago, I was never a Bulls fan. I appreciated how good they were, but I never rooted for them. That all changed at some point between Joakim Noah's steal from Paul Pierce and his improbable dunk. For those who say basketball players aren't the best athletes in the world, watch this triple overtime game. You'll change your mind.

Is there anything better than a White Russian Daiquiri?
Before Sunday morning, I would have said nothing is better than the chocolate shake from In-n-Out burger. And then I had one of these delicious mixes in a 20-ounce Styrofoam cup. Had The Big Lebowski been filmed in New Orleans rather than LA, the Dude would have been just as addicted to these. Buy a large, you get a free shot!

Childhood Shenanigans
Whether it's gluing someone's butt to their school desk chair, hand-to-hand combat while water skiing or errantly stepping in a pile of dog poop, we all have funny stories from our younger days. It's fun to recount those moments before going back to Rolling Calls, making Resies or Leaving Word.

How great Neil Young still sounds
He may not have much of a sense of humor, he may not be much to look at and half of his songs are terribly depressing, but when he cranks up "Keep on Rockin' in the Free World" you know that it's all worth the price of admission. [Runner Up: Buddy Guy for a performance of "Mustang Sally" that rivals anything he did when I used to watch him in his club.]

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

So you wanna move to Hollywood?

I just spent 45 minutes on the phone with California Unemployment Office because of a gaffe my Temp Pimp made. And that was in addition to the 30 minutes I spent arguing with my health insurance provider because of the same gaffe.

Hooray for Hollywood.

Infront but still way behind -- NBC's Fall Pickups

True to Ben Silverman's half-assed fashion, NBC announced only half of their fall slate at yesterday's "infronts." He will announce the rest of the line up in a few weeks, which will coincide with the exact day he has to pick something. This process may include using a dart board or a very smart chicken*.

Following is my completely uninformed prediction of the fate of NBC's new shows. That said, I guessed pretty well last year. Wanna bet against me?

Logline: Eight is Enough on a different network.
Smells Like: A TV show loosely based on a Steve Martin movie (Cheaper by the Dozen) which is based on another Steve Martin movie (Parenthood).
Prediction: The first time NBC took Parenthood to TV, they made 12 episodes before getting sacked. That time Ed Begely Jr. was the dad. This time it's Peter Krause. I find neither of them interesting and the show won't make it to mid-season.

Logline: Seth Meyers attempts to prove he's funny.
Smells Like: A desperate attempt to hold on to the last vestiges of the audience that isn't addicted to the much better Daily Show and Colbert Report.
Prediction: Six episodes and out. NBC needs to read a copy of Galileo's Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo to help them remember the Sun is at the center of the universe, it's not 2008, Sarah Palin isn't running for VP (thus no Tina Fey) and Thursday isn't a Weekend day (unless you're unemployed like me). It's also a bad idea to front run your own programming.

Logline: Girl dumps guy who proposes to her. Then re-enters the dating pool.
Smells Like: Friends-style dinner-theater sex comedy. Hello 1995.
Prediction: Three seasons of the same jokes -- "scrotum" this and "boobs" that -- with periodic moments of well-orchestrated schmaltz. Sophie Winkleman's British accent will fade significantly over time after data reveals people can't stand it.


Logline: Improbably sexy doctors ®
Smells Like: Something to fill the hole in NBC's line up left by ER, Friends, Seinfeld, Frasier, Cheers and The Cosby Show.
Prediction: Sure. Why not? A Top 20 show for a couple seasons, but not much longer than that.

Logline: Shtick
Smells Like: Jay Leno's ego as played by Kathy Bates character from Misery.
Prediction: Actually, I have a serious programming question here. If Jay Leno's target audience is heavily concentrated in Middle America/Central and Mountain timezones, will they want to watch this at 9 p.m.? That's a tad early for Ma and Pa Kettle to put Junior to sleep and watch the talkies? Initial interest will wear off quickly. Or worse, if interest stays high, Conan's ratings will suffer. Somebody is gonna lose, it's just a matter of who and by how much.

* For those unfamiliar, this is the second time I've used this smart chicken joke. See question #17.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Temp X is in New Orleans for Jazzfest. If you were him, which would you do?

Eat too much - 21%

Drink too much - 32%

Not come back to the soul-sucking cesspool that is Hollywood - 45%