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.