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.

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