Friday, December 31, 2010

Temp Diaries = Award Winner

I'd like to thank me.
It's about time that someone recognize me with an award.  In fact, I'd say it's long overdue.  I was hoping for a Peabody, a Nobel Prize or at least a Soul Train award.  But until then, I'm stuck with CityWatch's Front Seat award.  Apparently I'm being awarded for my ability to recognize that Hollywood is a cesspool of idiots.  Not that hard to do, but I guess I earned it.

This year, our Front Seat award is given to Anonymous, the author of a blog called The Hollywood Temp Diaries. 
This author has obviously had more local experience than that rental car driver, but nevertheless manages to convey the resentment of those who don't move right into the corner suite of a major talent agency ten minutes after exiting the Greyhound terminal.  Here's one snippet to convey the tone of the HTD:
Monday, December 6, 2010


Nothing of note happened last week. I had a temp gig that paid a sum total of $112.50 (before taxes).  I did a little bit of writing.  And I helped a friend move out of LA.  Oh how I envy her.
OK, this blog does show some wit, as its author likes to point out, but we are entitled to wonder why he stays here if it is all so repugnant. Is he confined to Hollywood by some condition of probation? If not, why not go to Chicago, where there is lots of regional theater, music, and city sponsorship of the arts?
By the way, the overall theme of the blog is that temp work is underpaid and demeaning, and that some employers are jerks. Just in case you didn't know.

To answer his question as to why I don't move to Chicago, I'll simply ask which of the major studios are headquartered in Chicago.  Paramount?  Universal?  Warner Bros?  Fox?  And what about TV networks?  Can't think of any yet, huh?  Even Oprah, Queen of Chicago, knew to set up the Oprah Winfrey Network in Los Angeles.  Think before you write.

As for the "some wit" comment, I believe I offer more than "some."  Jerk.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Temp Diaries Holiday Tradition: The Santaland Diaries

Everybody has a Christmas tradition. Here's one of mine. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

THR is approaching Brett Farve numbers: 7 for 7

For those new to this game, THR has run a series of round tables (producers, writers, animators, actors, actresses and comics) and have yet to interview any minority.  Not one.  Today the streak continues with a bunch of white directors -- David O. Russell, Darren Aronofsky, Lisa Cholodenko, Derek Cianfrance, Peter Weir and Tom Hooper.  Let's give them a little credit, at least they remembered to invite a woman.  It was probably an oversight.

Not Pictured: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Lee Daniels, Alfonso Cuarón

Friday, December 17, 2010

Last post of 2010

Today is the day that most of Hollywood shuts down until the week after Sundance.  That means no one will be around to read my blog and lavish praise upon me.  And if no one is going to lavish praise on me, then why should I bother writing.  And that's perfect, because after 240 postings in 2010, I'm worn out.

But before I go elf hunting, I just thought I'd share a few thoughts:
  • To those of you scratching and clawing your way through Hollywood, I admire your strength.  The entertainment industry isn't for everyone.  It's full of emotional peaks and valleys that wreak havoc on your insides.  Remember what the Prophet Mila Kunis told Nylon Magazine, "This is the worst industry...the whole thing is based so much on opinion and nobody is wrong."  Here's hoping that opinion works in your favor real soon.
  • I hope you like the site and I thank you for spreading the word.  I knew when I started the Temp Diaries a lot people felt the same way I did -- underemployed, underappreciated and underpaid.  If I by sharing my experiences and thoughts I can bring a little light to your day, then I've accomplished my goal. (Well, that and selling it as a TV series would be nice.)
  • I'm happy to say the job list has helped many people find work and secure interviews.  To those who can't yet find work, all I can say is keep trying.  Oh, and if you're under 30 years old, don't have a resume longer than a page.  Trust me on this one.
  • I will be introducing a new website on January 10, 2011 that has nothing to do with Hollywood.  So stay tuned.  And when I do launch it, please be sure to tell your friends.  It'll be fun.
  • And on this week's Unemployment Supplement, I'm picking Pittsburgh (-6) to cover vs NY Jets, Oakland (-7) over Denver and Cleveland (+1.5) to upset Cincinnati.  Holy cow.  I really am turning into Larry King.
Well, that's it.  I was trying to figure out the right song to play us out.  I considered something seasonal.  Then I tried something that was a play on words.  After that I tried something a little more downbeat.  None of it worked.  So I'm picking something fun and festive.  Happy hour!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Will Nikki Finke sue me? Or will I just get a cease and desist?

In between all the recent excitement of everything Facebook, lesbian ballerinas and my mention on NPR was this little nugget of news about the humorless Nikki Finke (courtesy of THR):

According to Reuters, the $14 million woman and her corporate overlords at filed a trademark infringement suit in early December against a site called Deadline Hollyweird.  The report says Darling Nikki/ are "the sole owner of certain inherently distinctive trademarks related to the goods and services associated with Deadline" which includes the word "Deadline" hanging over the Hollywood sign.

From the U.S. Patent and Trademark office (9/28/10)
This is not the first time Nikki has used the legal system for something completely absurd.  There's the whole trademarking "TOLDJA," which is basically a done deal according to the U.S. Trademark Office despite the fact that Sister Toldja and Sister Toldjah both predate her in the blogging world.

But this lawsuit against Deadline Hollyweird got me thinking.  Maybe Nikki owns the "Deadline" part, but who wants that anyway.  The part I want is the "Hollywood." So I've been thinking of ideas for new sites.

Temp news all the time. Today's shocking revelation - $9/hr sucks.

PBS covers entertainment as only they can.  Gwen Ifill introduces
the catch phrase "I believe I mentioned that item a fortnight ago." 

64% of Hollywood execs flock to this site hoping to find a 
supplier who doesn't cut their snow with baby powder. 
The remaining 36% are too high to use their computer.
Covering the adult entertainment - top to bottom.  Perhaps
that's not the best term.  How about inside and out?  Nope. 
Well.  You get the point.  It's about a bunch of naked people.

All news Nikki Finke. Oh, wait, she already does that. Isn't it time
for Nellie to do another report on a Tilda-induced traffic jam?

Will I get a Cease and Desist letter for Christmas?

Oh, Nikki.  One quick thing. I sure hope you got the okee-dokee from the Hollywood Chamber to use the sign on your site because their site specifically states, "if the images or footage you are taking are intended for any sort of commercial purpose, then permission is required." You wouldn't want to get sued.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

THR keeps the streak alive

For its most recent Roundtable, THR assembled a panel with an average age of 83 -- Dick Cavett, Mel Brooks, Phyllis Diller, Tim Conway and Carl Reiner -- to discuss comedy.  Something's wrong with this effort, I'm just not sure which part was the screw up.  If they just wanted to get a bunch of comics together to shoot the shit, someone needs to tell The Hollywood Reporter that it's no longer 1972.   If it's a chance to talk with comedy legends, someone needs to let them know minority comics exist too. And some have been known to be funny. Pathetic.

Not Pictured: Bill Cosby, Paul Mooney, Cheech & Chong, Whoopi Goldberg, etc.

The Temp Diaries Holiday Tradition -- WPIX Yule Log

It's hard to get into the spirit of the season when it's 88 degrees in the middle of December.  I mean it's nice, but it sure isn't very Christmasee or Christmasy or however you wan to spell it.  But here's a surefire way to get you in the mood for Santa and other bearded men breaking into your house.  It's the WPIX Yule Log.

And don't forget, the Temp Diaries Holiday Party Substitute is this Thursday at Bar Lubitsch.  For more info, click here...I mean here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Larry King Tuesday

After too many years on the air, Larry King's last show is this Thursday.   So it only seems appropriate that I do another, and probably my last, Larry King column.  Plus I don't have that much to say.  How fitting. 

$#*! my congressman says
I just got my annual statement from Social Security.  My earnings since college have basically been a bell curve.  This is not what was supposed to happen.  I'm sure these new tax breaks for those earning $250k or more will help.

It's only 10 more shopping days until Christmas.  And what makes a better gift for your wife, your ex-wife, your girlfriend and/or your mistress than a beautiful, hand made purse.  And who makes these lovely gift items?  Sister X.  Check out her page.  Buy them all.

Wanna know what I think about the Black List?  Movieline did.  You should too. After all these years, I still give good quote.

Do you think I'm cheeky?

(Not Really) As funny as ever
Keith Olbermann needs to: 1) Stop the countdown to the 2012 least until 2012; 2) Get rid of the "Not Really" next to "Worst Persons in the World."  I don't know who's tinkering with WPOW, but it's annoying and makes you look silly; 3) Get guests other than Eugene Robinson, Chris Hayes and Richard "Renegade: The Making of a President" Wolffe.
Degenerate X was 1-2 versus the spread last week.  And in the games I lost, Tampa Bay was favored by 2 (they won 17-16) and Philly was favored by 3.5 (they won 30-27).  Either odds makers are good at their jobs or football is rigged.

The Iraq
Finding good friends isn't easy.  Take time to really appreciate those important people in your life.

NPR spends taxpayer dollars writing about me.  I'm worth every penny.
Larry King asked Conan if he's talked to Leno since their dust up.  That's like asking Larry if Carrie Prejean has called him recently.  Although she may not know how to dial the phone.

Wondering if Piers Morgan writes the same way Larry King does?  Or will I have to learn a new writing style?

And how better to celebrate Larry's departure from basic cable than a classic prank from the Howard Stern show.

Monday, December 13, 2010

ANSWER: Temp X started a new temp gig. Which one of these terms did his PIMP use to describe the person he'd be working for? [Note: The other terms were used by his co-workers.]

Before I reveal the correct answer to this, here's how you all voted...

Dipshit                 20%

Asshole                16%

Run like Hell         7%

Old School           55% (most votes)

Well, turns out the majority of you...fell for the oldest trick in the book.  While someone did use the term "Old School" to describe the person I'm temping for, it wasn't my Temp Pimp.  Nope.  Sadly my Pimp used a slightly less delicate term "Asshole" (and later "Maniac") to warn me from taking this job.  I didn't heed this warning.  But I should have.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Degenerate X's Unemployment Supplements

I was a perfect 3-0 versus the spread last week (check my Twitters).  But what's the point in stopping while while I'm ahead?  Plus no one reads my Friday posts.

The truth is, I get tired of talking about how Hollywood sucks.  Same thing every day.  I have interests outside of getting yelled at and doing work well below my skill level.  I was going to list all the senators who voted against healthcare bill for 9-11 First Responders.  But, I instead decided to offer uninformed betting tips.  Here are this week's picks.

Pittsburgh (-8.5) vs. Cincinnati:
Degenerate X picks: Pittsburgh to cover

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!
Roethlisberger beat the vaunted Ravens defense with a busted schnoz and a bad foot. Imagine what he'll do the brain dead Bengals defense. I mean seriously, everyone knew Brees was gonna do a hard count and call time out. Ok, everyone except the Bengals defense. Plus the game is in Pittsburgh, which I'm told means something.

Tampa Bay (-2) at Washington
Degenerate X picks: Tampa Bay to cover

Are you winking at me?
Tampa pushed the Falcons to the last minute before losing on a controversial call. Haynesworth is out for bad behavior and...well...did you see how the rest of the Redskins defense played against the overrated Giants? Look for the Bucs to run all over the 'Skins. Weather shouldn't be a big factor. 45 and rainy is perfect running weather. I never liked a 3-4 defense and neither should you.

Philadelphia (-3.5) at Dallas
Degenerate X picks: Philadelphia to cover

Are YOU winking at me?
Don't be fooled by the Dallas resurgence. The Colts beat themselves. The Cowboys were just happened to be there. And your average Lingerie Football League team could beat Detroit. So I'm not giving Dallas any credit for that one. As for their win against the Giants...see previous statement about the Giants. The Cowboys also lost Dez Bryant for the season, meaning Miles Austin will see double teams all day. As much as I dislike Michael Vick (and I do), I gotta believe they can cover.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

'Tis the season...for drinking and dirty jokes

Twas the days before Xmas break
And all through Hollywood
Not an executive was conscious
They've drunk more than they should

The Hollywood Temp Diaries, in cooperation with the comic genius of the "Josh and Josh Show" hereby invites you to the 2010 Holiday Party Substitute.  It was such a grand time last year, how could we not do it again.

Come for the comedy, stay for the chance of a drunken hook up.


Thursday, December 16
8:00 p.m.* - 2:00 a.m. (comedy then dance party)
Bar Lubitsch – 7702 Santa Monica Blvd – West Hollywood

*comics will likely hit the stage around 8:30


Scheduled performers
: Eddie Pepitone (Sarah Silverman Show, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Chris Fairbanks (The Daily Habit, Reality Bites Back), Howard Kremer (Comedy Central Presents), Ruby Wendell (Paul Blart: Mall CopLast Comic Standing) and Murray Valeriano (Cold Turkey)


No Cover Charge (Hooray!)/ Cash Bar (I'm not made of money.)
No RSVP Required

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Nikki Finke gets scooped; turns it into story about Nikki Finke

I think the old bird is starting to lose it.  Maybe it's too much egg nog.  Maybe she got a little nookie under the mistletoe.  Or perhaps she was just a hack to start with.  I'm guessing #1 or #3.  The thought of #2 is too much to handle.

Darling Nikki, please go back to running press releases. It's really where your skills are.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ask the Genius: Laverne McKinnon

Laverne knows her stuff
Welcome to another edition of "Ask the Genius."  The idea of ATG is to ask industry experts questions about breaking into entertainment.  Today we have Laverne McKinnon, Executive Vice President of Original Programming and Development at EPIX.

For more information about EPIX, check out their website   Ms. McKinnon's bio is at the end of this post.


For me, scripted development and programming is all about embracing possibility and realizing potential. I believe the role of a creative executive is to champion, facilitate and edit.  A career in development and programming is helped by the following:

  • Knowledge and understanding of who’s out there (writers, directors, producers, actors) – not just for their credits but for a personal insight into their unique talents and what helps them to thrive. For example, some writers are great at adaptations while others are awesome at punch-up. The goal is to set the project and the auspices up for success – ask people to do what they are great at and capable of doing.
  • A strong list of contacts is essential.  This allows you to pick up the phone and get someone to read material, to meet on a project or to attach themselves. If you don’t know the talent you’re trying to reach, you need to know who CAN get you there.
  • Analytical skills are a must, meaning you must have the ability to articulate what’s working for the target market and what’s not. It’s not just about personal sensibility, it’s about understanding the audience and helping the writer/producer reach that audience effectively. Going back to the first bullet point, part of the analytical skills is also knowing whether your writer wants possible fixes pitched or not. Everyone is different, so you can’t apply same the rules of development to every project and every writer.
  • Married to analytical skills is diplomacy. Always tell the truth and never sugarcoat.  But at the same time you need to be empathetic and sensitive. Every one is different. Some people want the bandage ripped off while others prefer to be anesthetized.
  • Good taste.  I believe if you have good taste, this will ensure the projects you work on will have an evergreen quality and/or a positive, lasting impression.


A good pitch is specific and short. Always have a logline that can be used by the producer/studio exec/agent to set-up the pitch – don’t rely on others to come up with the 2-3 sentence logline. It’s what gets you in the door and what will be used by the network executives to sell to their bosses.  A good pitch will outline the central concept (and what’s unique about it), the tone, the characters and sample story lines. Be prepared to discuss the pilot story but don’t pitch it out beat for beat.

The style of the pitch should reflect the tone of the piece – if you’re pitching a comedy, it should be humorous. You don’t have to be a stand-up, but it should reflect the humor.  A pitch for a drama should reflect its tone.  Most executives on the scripted side prefer not to see a demo tape, charts, graphics or music.  However this material is typical for non-scripted. Keep it simple and succinct.


It’s different from network to network. Broadcast networks have much more pressure because their success is reliant on ratings. They simply don’t have as much freedom to grow a hit.  For a premium cable network like HBO or Showtime, a great deal of success is about the positive media attention and opportunities for unique brand differentiation.


I don’t believe it’s permanent, but what’s exciting to me about the creative marketplace today is that the barriers between feature vs. television vs. stage vs. digital are all coming down. Most creative auspices are now looking at what’s the best platform in which to tell the story versus being exclusive.  Guillermo del Toro moves from books to movies to television. There’s a gigantic need for content with the growth of television and digital. Utilizing pre-existing intellectual property is an effective way to keep the pipeline filled. It takes a tremendous amount of care and thought to create a world in which a scripted television series can live.  And to have the benefit of tapping into something that has already been created is a Godsend.


Everywhere and anywhere. I’m a voracious reader, so I’ll read short stories, novels, comic books, articles and essays. I also love to travel, so I love hearing stories from different parts of the world. But it’s not just about the idea, it’s about who’s carrying it across the finish line.  A great idea needs to be turned into a great script that can attract great talent.  After that, it needs to be well produced.  At the same time, you need to figure out how the vision can be sustained once these new personalities enter the mix.

While the content is critical, equally important is the person at the center who steers the project forward, can weather every storm and still see the forest through the trees. How’s that for mixing metaphors?

Laverne McKinnon is Executive Vice President, Original Programming and Development at EPIX where she oversees scripted series, original movies and mini- series, music and comedy events, and documentaries. EPIX is a next-generation premium entertainment channel, video on demand and on-line service which is a joint venture between Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and Lionsgate.

Prior to joining EPIX, Ms. McKinnon launched her own production company Shibui Entertainment where she developed and sold drama and comedy projects to HBO, Showtime, USA, NBC, FX and the Cartoon Network. Ms. McKinnon also served as President, Television Production of 50 Cannon Entertainment, for feature film director Mike Newell.

Prior to 50 Cannon, Ms. McKinnon was Senior Vice President of Drama Series Development at CBS where she was involved in such successful series as
Without A Trace, Criminal Minds, The Unit, Cold Case, Numbers and the CSI franchise.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Nothing of note happened last week. I had a temp gig that paid a sum total of $112.50 (before taxes).  I did a little bit of writing.  And I helped a friend move out of L.A.  Oh how I envy her. 

And now, for comedic mastery that is Sam Kinison.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

THR is 5 for 5: Still awaiting a minority on their Awards Watch Roundtable

Producers. Writers. Animators. Actresses. And now Actors (James Franco, Ryan Gosling, Colin Firth, Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg and Robert Duvall). Still not a minority interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter for its Awards Watch Roundtable. Not a one. Zero. Zip. Nil. Nought. Love. Nada. Scratch. Zilch. Bagel. Goose egg. Diddly squat. 

Well, at least they're consistent.

Not Pictured: (sigh)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"My life in Hollywood sucks" - December Calendar

Think your experience in Tinseltown is worse than everyone else's? Tell me how on the "My Life In Hollywood Sucks Because..." entry. Your tale of woe might just make it to the monthly calendar.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Celebs: They're just like us -- only better looking and dumber (except Mila Kunis)

While her voice sounds like a cat in a blender crying out for help, apparently Mila Kunis has a brain behind her doe eyes and cute little nose.  Following is her assessment of The Business from her recent interview with the "publication" Nylon Magazine:
This is the worst industry you can put yourself in because there’s no security whatsoever. I mean, none. The whole thing is based so much on opinion and nobody is wrong.
 Hooray for an honest actor!  And can I say, love the hair.


Monday, November 29, 2010

The Official Temp Diaries Christmas Carol: "Happy Xmas (Temping Sucks)"

'Tis the season, or something like that.  And what kind of Grinch would I be if I didn't participate.  So I deliver to you my pièce de résistance -- the official Hollywood Temp Diaries Christmas carol.  It's to the tune of "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" by John Lennon.  I like to call it "Happy Xmas (Temping Sucks)."

To all who don't like my song parodies, there's a lump of something waiting in your stockings.  To everyone who likes them, hit the play button and sing along.

So I'm temping on Christmas
'Cause I can't find a job
Another year wasted
As a Hollywood slob

And I'm temping on Christmas
In Business Affairs
The phone isn't ringing
I'm bored but who cares?

And I'm temping on Christmas
Is it yet the New Year?
Or at least six o'clock?
It isn't I fear.

And I'm temping on Christmas
I wish it was fun
At 10 bucks an hour
Will this day soon be done?

And I'm temping on Christmas
Is my diploma worth squat?
I just want an agent
To give me a shot.

And I'm temping on Christmas
It still isn't fun
Unemployment is stable
It's around nine point one

And I'm temping on Christmas
Sorting office supplies
I'd sure like a job
That would be a nice surprise

And I'm temping on Christmas
Likely in to next year
At least I have something
That'll pay for my beer.

And I'm temping on Christmas
Wondering when things went wrong
I'm considering law school
Now let's all sing along

Temping sucks
Moving home

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Plug Me: Sarah Silverman's Thankskilling Special

One of my loyal readers, John Rota of Alexandria Entertainment represents Sascha Ciezata, the animator of this seasonally-appropriate short film - Sarah Silverman's Thankskilling Special.

Mr. Rota can be reached at

This is getting silly, but what the heck.

I'd do a whole long lead in, but what's the point.  The Hollywood Reporter has quickly shot past Nikki Finke in lazy reporting.  In their Awards Watch Roundtable series, they are now 4-for-4 in not including people of color.  The most recent example is The Animators with its distinguished guests five white guys (Roy Conli, Bob Last, Tom McGrath, Chris Meledandri, Lee Unkrich) and Bonnie Arnold.  Oh, and for anyone wondering about the woman at the far right, she's a THR reporter.  Still no people of color.  I wonder if they're going to have Awards Watch Roundtable: The Minorities? 

Not Pictured: Ken Katsumoto, Seemha Ramanna, Aghi Koh

Monday, November 22, 2010

More Whiteness at The Hollywood Reporter

Last week we discussed The Hollywood Reporter offering up a cover of all white men in its Young Guns: 35 under 35 issue.  When asked about this, a THR spokes-email told Movieline they "picked the most compelling image" for the cover.  Yes.  It's a riveting photo of five guys standing.  No way to replicate that concept with women or minorities.  But those are the tough calls editors have to make.  Let's move on because it's more fun to write about Nikki Finke screwing up or plugging Tilda again.

Since that's all been settled, let's ignore other examples from the past three weeks where THR has problems finding minorities and women to feature.  So avert your gaze from white men at last Thursday's (11/18/10) Awards Watch Roundtable: The Producers with a panel including Christian Colson, Michael De Luca, Graham King, Iain Canning, Mike Medavoy and Mark Wahlberg?

Not Pictured: Jodie Foster, Spike Lee, Lee Daniels, Guillermo del Toro
And we can skip the white men at the November 9 Awards Watch Roundtable: The Writers, featuring Aaron Sorkin, Simon Beaufoy, Michael Arndt, John Wells, Todd Phillips and David Lindsay-Abaire.

Not Pictured: Tyler Perry, Diablo Cody, Philippa Boyens and Robert Rodriguez
And finally, we need not pay attention to the undiversity of the November 3 Awards Watch Roundtable: Actresses featuring Nicole Kidman, Natalie Portman, Amy Adams, Annette Bening, Helena Bonham Carter and Hilary Swank.

Not Pictured: Mo'Nique, Penelope Cruz, Salma Hayek, Halle Berry
Heck, at least they remembered to invite women to the Actress panel.

[Note: I called and emailed THR asking for a comment.  They have chosen to ignore me.]

Friday, November 19, 2010

Headshot of the Week: Dan Amos

It's Headshot of the Week time again. Headshot of the Week is a way for actors to get their pictures and resumes in front of those hiring or looking for clients. To be considered, send a copy (.jpg or .pdf) of your headshot, credits and contact info to I'll take it from there. Of course, be smart about what contact info you provide as this info will be out there for all to see.

Today's candidate is Dan Amos. He can be reached through his manager Pamela Thomas at 310-270-0616 or check out his site

Thursday, November 18, 2010

EEOC 2.0

I know we've gone over this before, but I guess it never hurts to revisit what are legal and what are illegal hiring practices as set forth by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Sex Discrimination & Work Situations
The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.

Why do I bring this up again?  I recently concluded a temp gig where I bridged the gap between the outgoing and the incoming assistant.  While there, I heard the employer explain to the rejected candidates why they didn't get hired.  And to put it politely, every conversation was in violation of the rules stated above.  If only I were kidding.

Here's a tip to all you wanna be executives, "Think before you speak."  Or perhaps I should just say "Think."  That's probably enough of a challenge.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What's missing from this picture?

[Note:  I have revised this posting to reflect the gender imbalance of the THR story.  I mistakenly said the Young Guns were a fairly balanced 18 men to 17 women.  The correct number is a much more embarrassing 24 men to 11 women (not including the additional categories of talent and writers/directors).  I sincerely apologize the error.]

The release of the cover of this year's Hollywood Young Guns -- the "Top 35 under 35" entertainment execs -- seems to be missing something.  I can't put my finger on it.  Let's see.  The lighting is fine.  The outfits look nice. I'm pretty sure they're all under 35 (although in Hollywood, that's always a fungible number)  Oh, I think I know what all have in common.  They seem to put this Politically Uncorrectly...white man-ish.  Now I don't know their ethnic background so I may be wrong on half this point.  But I'm pretty certain Alex Goldstone, Andrew Miller, Brent Morley, Josh Hornstock and Todd Christopher are all men.  Or should THR be more ashamed that their list of 35 agents, lawyers, film execs, digital execs, publicists, managers and TV execs breaks out with 24 men to only 11 women.

One has to wonder.

Another Day in Hollywood: The one about Thanksgiving

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Dreaded Christmas Cards

Like A Charlie Brown Christmas, some things merit an annual rerun. Thus I offer this posting from November 14, 2008 with tips and recommendations for doing your boss's holiday cards. I have also added a few viewer comments that you might find helpful.

Do you hear that? It sounds a little like a whale's mating call but with more sniffling. That's the sound of Mom X and Dad X crying because of what I'm about to write.

My parents did their darnedest. They made sure my education was top notch. They moved to good school districts. They sent me to accelerated programs, SAT prep classes and the second best college in Chicago. They spent many nights helping me with math homework (until I got to Algebra 2, at which point they were useless). Heck, when my fifth grade class had a balsa wood bridge building contest, Dad X gave me book on roof trusses so I could learn about structural engineering. (FYI -- The bridge held 70 pounds and I came in second place).

But after all that education and preparation for the real world, reading volumes of books on urban development, German history and the Nixon administration, I've been reduced to to this tedious but critical skill in Hollywood -- mailing Christmas cards.

Trust me, I'm as sick about it as you. A couple years ago I worked for someone who mailed cards to 1,400 people. That's like sending a card to one out of four people in Wasilla, Alaska. It was a trying moment in my Hollywood "career." But like death, taxes and a new SAW movie every Halloween, Christmas cards are an unavoidable task for a Hollywood assistant.

Following are tips on ways to make this dark period of your life go by as quickly as possible. So turn on some music, relax, pour some whiskey in your coffee and dive in. It'll be over before you know it...

  • Use each field in the database for one item only (e.g., first name, city, zip). Do not combine the recipient's first name and last name into one data field (e.g., "Elisabeth" and "Hasselbeck" versus "Elisabeth Hasselbeck").
  • Make sure your mailing labels are big enough for all the address information. Avery 5260s (the ones your office is most likely to have) are usually good for four lines of information. So after putting in the person's name, title, company and street address, your label is full. Consider eliminating or consolidating non-critical information or getting different labels.
  • Don't lick each envelope. Instead, use a glue stick. This will prevent your tongue, breath and salivary glands from revolting against you. Before you seal the envelopes, make sure to cover your work area with paper (I prefer a thin cardboard). This will prevent your desk from getting covered with glue.
  • Use moisturizer. I know it sounds like that speech about using sunscreen, but I'm very serious. After handling a few hundred envelopes your finger tips dry up and are less likely to protect yourself from very painful paper cuts.
  • Show your boss a sample before you assemble all of them. Hollywood executives are a finicky bunch, so it's best to make sure they know exactly what it's gonna look like. Otherwise you'll end up doing this twice.
  • CAA moved to 2000 Avenue of the Stars a couple years ago. If anyone still has them at 9830 Wilshire, please update their contacts.

Now let us never speak of this posting again. My college diploma is laughing at me.


Following are some user comments from 2008 and 2009 you might find helpful.
Anonymous said...
i used to mail out a gazillion letters a month.. and, i give a firm heads up to the little bottles with the sponge tops. also, flap your envelopes, flattening out the fold over bit, so you can easily slide in cards.. then, using the same stacking, you can swipe the bottle bottom to top, then run the side of your palm down the flap top to bottom, thus reducing motion and effort. flip the stack over, and, by folding the stamp page a bit, the edge of the stamp comes free, allowing you to quickly slide a stamp on each piece. for every 20 cards, stop, press firmly on the upper stage left edge to secure the stamp and move on. (i should do this as a video, right?)  With this, i was able to stuff, seal, label and stamp 1000 letters an hour.
Anonymous said...
I helped out my father and a family friend with a large mailing. Some office supply stores sell a bottle with a sponge on top. You unscrew the top, fill the bottle with water, screw the top back on, then seal away. However, I would never dream of questioning the great and wonderful temp x.
Anonymous said...
Years ago I too sent out hundreds of New Years Cards at my college job. Many fancy holiday cards are also heavier or bigger than regular mail and require more postage. This is rarely noted on the box. I would take one card to the post office to verify the correct postage. You could look like a genius if you catch this problem.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Headshot of the Week: Jamie Dix

It's Headshot of the Week time again. Headshot of the Week is a way for actors to get their pictures and resumes in front of those hiring or looking for clients. To be considered, send a copy (.jpg or .pdf) of your headshot, credits and contact info to I'll take it from there. Of course, be smart about what contact info you provide as this info will be out there for all to see.

Today's candidate is Jamie Dix. She can be reached at or visit her site

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Motivational Quote of the Day

I'd make a joke that a more appropriate quote about the economy is "Ain't that a Shame" but that would be too easy.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ask Fake Ari Emanuel

Still not real Ari
Welcome to another edition of Ask Fake Ari Emanuel.*  Fake Ari (not to be confused with the real Ari Emanuel) will answer all of your questions because he's made it to the second highest level of Hollywood -- WME2.  And who knows? One of these days CAA might just hire him as a floater.  If you have any questions for Fake Ari, please send them to me at

*Any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental.  No animals were harmed during the writing of this posting.  Please don't sue me.

ANONYMOUS READER ASKS: I moved to LA about a month ago and I am seeking an assistant position.  I really want to be an agent or work in representation.  I just got hired as an intern to a top management firm, but it's only one day a week.  So I know that it is probably best for me to bite the bullet, do this internship and work as a PA when someone is dumb enough to pay me for it.  But it isn't consistent.  What can I do to start making consistent money?  Should I go to a temp agency?  Where is the best place to busboy where I can meet industry peeps?

FAKE ARI EMANUEL RESPONDS: First of all, you'll never be an agent.  I AM AN AGENT.  Everyone else is some sort of cheap substitute.  Sure they may have the title of agent.  They may also have nice suits, fancy cars and a roster of clients.  But they, like you, will never be an agent.  You are all what I call an "Ari-in-Training"...hang on one second.  I want to finish yelling at you, but I have to take this call.

Conan!  My favorite client!  Love the new show!...Yeah, sure I watched it.  Me and the missus wouldn't miss it for anything...My favorite part?  Loved your interview with the Governator.  You really knocked it out of the park...Oh, did I say Governator?....No.  Right. I know he was on Leno.  I meant to say Seth Rogen.  I get them confused.  Like when you say you look like the president of Sweden...Finland.  Right...Just trying to make a joke, but I'll leave that to the pros.  Well, gotta run.  I have a call with Spielberg in five but I need to make some stink babies first.  Bran muffins and Starbucks shoot right through me.  Tell Andy and Max I said hi...Right. Jimmy.  Of course Max quit.  I was just testing you.  Love you.

As I was saying, for future failures like yourself who need consistent money, there are a few options:
  • Yeah, duh.  Register with the f-ing temp agencies.  Register with all of them.  They're all listed on the right side of this stupid blog.  If you're lucky you'll get a multi-week assignment making $12/hour to replace an assistant who suffered a panic attack.
  • Suck up to your new internship.  Tell them how pretty/handsome they look.  People love that shit.  And if you do that while busting your ass, maybe they'll hire you.
  • Double Drop.  Since you apparently are a restaurant service jockey, take a tip from Dee from It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Season 3, Ep. 7.  In the double drop scam, a waiter (YOU) uses the same check for two tables, one which was never entered into the system. Then the waiter (STILL YOU) pockets the cash from the table never really billed.  As for the best places to do so, Barney Greengrass on Wilshire.  There's always some Ari-in-Training having lunch there.
And finally, if you ever use the word "peeps" again, I'll have you and the peep killed.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Guest Editorial: Have internships in Hollywood simply become unpaid jobs?

When a TV network reruns a show, they call it an "encore performance." What they should call it is, "Damn! This re-airing of is Losing it with Jillian an excellent way to drive up our margins. We don't have to pay to produce another show, we get decent ratings and advertisers will still pay a whole pile to sponsor this show" show. When I rerun a posting, I call it "I didn't have the time or interest to do today's episode." At least I'm honest.
The following originally aired May 6, 2010.
And now a guest editorial from one of my readers. [Note: I haven't verified anything stated below, but it all sounds pretty reasonable]...

I and other film creatives my age -- recent college grads hoping to find work -- have noticed a growing trend of replacing paid employment opportunities with internships to such a degree that the entry-level job has been virtually eradicated.

This applies even to those with degrees from major schools; one glance at the private USC Cinema job board shows one (usually independent) paid opportunity for every 10 internships. I honestly I feel that the next generation of California filmmakers is being irreparably damaged by this trend; since few are being hired and moving up the chain, the producers, directors, crew members and execs who currently helm the industry may not have anyone to take their places when they retire or move up themselves.

This is just one of the myriad problems caused by unpaid internships. Another huge issue is that only very well-off or financially supported individuals can afford to work many months at a job for no pay, dramatically slanting the playing field against minorities and many women. And while, once upon a time, internships at least held the promise of mentorship, today there's little or -- more typically -- no training to be found.

It seems that the point of internships today is solely to replace paid employees in order to cut costs. Yet, legally, work performed by an intern must be of no direct financial benefit to the company. Interns are not supposed to be doing for free the tasks normally performed by a paid employee.  And while photocopying and providing coverage certainly bend that rule, supposedly reputable companies are breaking that rule more and more egregiously, as no one seems to challenge "internship" listings such as this one from the LA Kings (from Craigslist):

The Los Angeles Kings are seeking an energetic individual who would like to gain experience in a fast-paced production environment. We are currently in need of an intern to assist in video production and post-production at our offices in El Segundo. Candidates should be interested in the creative process specific to sports production. Interns will have the opportunity to experience all facets of development and production and work closely with the current team in place. This is a great opportunity to get into the industry with a great organization while enhancing your production skills!

Do not respond to this ad unless you completely understand the role and compensation. If you have read through the entire ad, please put the word "Kopitar" in the subject line of your email. Also, please briefly explain your hockey knowledge.

Essential Duties:

Include observing and participating in all aspects of video production.
  • Assisting producer with archiving and logging footage.
  • Assisting producer with shooting interviews, b-roll.
  • Assistance with clip reels, DVD duplication, editing, etc.
Minimum Requirements:
  • Candidate must be currently enrolled at an accredited college or university pursuing a degree in production/broadcasting. Must receive college credit for internship
  • Candidate must have knowledge of Outlook and Microsoft Word.
  • Ability to multi-task and work in a fast paced environment.
  • Candidates must possess excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Candidates must possess excellent organizational skills.
  • Ability to work 20 hours a week
  • Experience using Final Cut Pro
  • Understanding of audio and video equipment
  • Basic hockey knowledge

There is no "training opportunity" to be found anywhere in this listing or the many listings like this. In fact, rather than offer skills to be learned, these "internships" require their trainees to already have professional training in order to perform their duties. Why is this allowed to continue unchecked?

For almost every unpaid "internship" out there, there's a hard-working employee not contributing to local and federal taxes, medicare or Social Security. There's an employee not covered by sexual harassment protection or protection from discrimination or receiving health care. There's an employee, potentially on unemployment, who will eventually have to move out of state in order to pay bills and put food on the table.

To put the icing on the cake, most companies in town refuse to hire anyone with only internship experience in that rare case when a job is even offered. I have a friend with great work ethic who's held a half-dozen internships -- reading scripts, covering novels, writing thousands of words for Avatar's viral advertising campaign, you name it -- only to be told that he doesn't have the "experience" to do his own job for a pay check.

The economics of Hollywood are screwy right now, but taking advantage of the lowest of the low won't fix it.  And if you pay us, we can afford to see your movies and no longer bootleg versions from BitTorrent.  Everybody wins.

Got something you want to say about the state of Hollywood?  Send it to

Friday, November 5, 2010

"My life in Hollywood sucks" - November Calendar

Sorry I'm late with this month's calendar.  I forgot.  Somehow, with nothing to do, I couldn't remember it was November. 

Think your experience in Tinseltown is worse than everyone else's? Tell me how on the "My Life In Hollywood Sucks Because..." entry. Your tale of woe might just make it to the monthly calendar.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Motivational Quote of the Day

The Motivational Quote of the Day comes to you from the late Dr. Hunter S. Thompson from his book Generation of Swine.  Dr. Thompson elegantly stated in his piece "Full-time Scrambling":

The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.  Which is more or less true.

You may now return to feeling underappreciated.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ask the Genius: Jen Grisanti

Jen knows her stuff
Welcome to my newest feature, "Ask the Genius."  The idea of ATG is to ask industry experts questions about breaking into entertainment.  For our maiden voyage, story consultant/producer/writing instructor Jen Grisanti has agreed to answer questions about writing for TV.  And if anyone knows, it's Jen.  Before going independent, Jen was VP of Current at CBS/Paramount and Head of Current at Spelling Productions.

For more info, check out her website, or contact her at  Her bio is at the end of this post.

I like writers to start with an exercise called Log Line For Your Life and then move on to writing a log line for their story.  The purpose of the exercise is to get writers to learn to draw from their emotional well.  Once you identify some universal life moments, you add some fiction to the story while coming from a place of emotional truth.  This is where the gold is.

Your log line is your road map and it tells you if your story will or won't work.  It's important that your log line involve an emotional hook and a twist of irony.  I like to tell writers to set it up as 'who, dilemma, action and goal.'  This is a way of organizing their story lines in the briefest form possible to have the strongest emotional effect.

One of the biggest mistakes young writers make is their writing portfolio doesn't support their goal. When writing a spec or a pilot script, the first thing to consider is where would you would like to be staffed.  So pick the shows you want to work for and write to support this goal.

With spec scripts, the biggest mistake is they write scripts that reflect how they wish the show was versus how it actually is.  To avoid this, I recommend writers first do a show breakdown, where you write a sentence describing each scene and what happens at the act breaks.  This will give you a strong idea of that show's formula.  At that point, start your story establishing a powerful dilemma and stem it into a strong goal.  Act outs should reflect back to your goal with an obstacle, escalating obstacle, an "all is lost" moment and resolution.  Most importantly, we should always see the external goal being accomplished.

With pilots, the biggest mistake is a lack of balance between character and plot.  Even the most experienced writers still have trouble getting this balance.  Many writers also wait too long to set up their series or forget to set it up entirely.

I love this show because the writing is absolutely brilliant. The characters are all complex, flawed and very interesting.  It allows people in their 30s and 40s to see what life was like for their parents.  It transports us to a period we can connect with and presents us with the emotional journey of a relatable family.  The story-telling stands out because of its incredible use of theme and symbolism.

This show pushes the envelope of what it's like to grow up in a small town, including scandals and traumas we can connect with emotionally.  The backdrop of football is a reflection of how we play the game on the field versus how we play the game of life.  Each episode gives us something to root for on many levels. The writing for this show is impeccable. 

I love this show because the family dynamics, the characters and the issues explored are something we can all relate to.  It also represents the reality that there is no one definition of a "normal" nuclear family.  Family is who shows up and is there for one another.  It explores strong universal themes and has a great brand of humor.

[Ed Note: Due to space, I've limited descriptions to three shows.  But Grisanti also recommends Glee, Blue Bloods, Parenthood and The Good Wife.]

A writer should always have one current spec script in their portfolio.  While most showrunners prefer originals, some showrunners only read spec scripts.  A writer should also have 2-3 original pieces in their portfolio.  This can include both pilots and/or features that reflect a strong, original voice.

I definitely recommend writing programs.  Writing programs are very well structured and a tremendous way to break in.  I also recommend writing competitions because it's a great thing to add to your bio if you place in them.  As far as things like YouTube, it's all about being creative and going after it. You create your destiny.

This book is full of hands on information where I break down several current shows that make strong specs including The C Word, Detroit 187, Glee and Modern Family.  The book will help you break down story structure for each of these shows and will show you how you can learn from them to improve your writing.  I give my formula of how to structure TV spec and pilots scripts in a way that will make your script stand out.

I also have a book coming out in March 2011 called Story Line: Finding Gold In Your Life Story. It's about adding fiction to your truth in your writing. It goes deeply into my philosophy on how to tell a strong story on all platforms. It is available for pre-sale now on Amazon.

There has definitely been a trend of shows with complex/flawed leads who have a secret (eg., Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Big Love) as well as edgy, character-driven stories like The C Word.  At the networks, family shows have made a tremendous comeback with the success of Modern Family, Parenthood and Friday Night Lights.  Procedurals are also getting in on the family action with the success of The Good Wife and Blue Bloods.

The best way to get an idea of what is being bought is to go to the trades, IMDBPro or TVTracker.  This will help to give the writer knowledge on what the brand of each network is and what they're buying that year.

I think that the trend for reality is beginning to fade.  Scripted programs are better now than they've ever been.  I don't have anything against reality shows.  I think that scripted writers can learn a lot character wise.  If you study the back story of some popular reality shows characters, it could give the scripted writers ideas.

Jen Grisanti is a Story Consultant, Independent Producer, Writing Instructor for NBC's Writers on the Verge, Blogger for The Huffington Post and author of the upcoming book, Story Line: Finding the Gold In Your Life Story.

Jen Grisanti started her career as an assistant to Aaron Spelling 15 years ago. Aaron was her mentor for the next 12 years as she climbed the ranks and eventually ran Current Programs at Spelling Television Inc., covering all of Spelling’ s shows including
Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place and Charmed. In 2004, Jen was promoted to Vice President of Current Programs at CBS/Paramount where she covered shows including Medium, Numbers, NCIS, 4400 and Girlfriends.

In January 2008, Jen launched Jen Grisanti Consultancy Inc., a consulting firm dedicated to helping talented writers break into the industry.  Her website is and can be reached at