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.

Avail:  (as in, "When is her next avail?") The truncated version of "availability." I'd write something clever here, but I'm busy now. Let me check my avails to do this later. Uh oh. I just did it, didn't I?

Above the Line: A term used to refer to actors/producers/directors as in the sentence, "If you're not working with Above the Line talent, you might as well work for a temp agency." The origin of the term is a nod to the Maginot Line, the line of concrete fortifications that the French conceived to keep out the Italians and the Germans after World War I. Much like the snooty French, snooty actors/producers/directors refuse to be on the same side of the line as those they deem lesser than them. The irony, of course, is the Germans engineered and the Italians built these fortifications. Or so I'm told.

Back End: Jennifer Lopez. Beyonce Knowles. Kim Kardashian. Dennis Franz. A quality rump has become such a necessity in Hollywood that plastic surgeons actually perform butt implants. If only Dr. Rey could remove certain asses like Jeff Zucker. But this has nothing to do with "back end." Premier's Former Executive Editor Peter Biskind explains back end is both “a percentage of the profits, if any, due after a film’s release” and “participation in the revenues generated by the distribution of the film." Of course movies allegedly never make money. No wonder why Winston Groom is pissed. Here's more confusing info on this term.

Base Camp: As Sir Edmund Hillary and his trusty sidekick Tonto knew, any major expedition requires a place to stop, re-energize, eat, sleep, poop and map out the next day's events. Those who climb Mt. Everest just happened to do it a 17,700 feet. Hollywood has "base camps" too. This collection of trailers and tents are for the cast and crew of Dinner for Schmucks (or whatever the project), the food consists of Red Bull, bagels and licorice and base camp is often in the unforgiving terrain of Burbank. Leave it to Hollywood to take what could easily be called "the office" or "work" and make it sound like an athletic achievement.

Below the Line: A term used to refer to people who work on sets as electricians/set designers/editors/anyone IATSE, as in the sentence, "CAA would never represent anyone Below the Line. That's for Paradigm to deal with." Below the Line people are never thanked in Emmy acceptance speeches.

Bible: Hollywood is filled with a bunch of heathens. Heck, you can witness each of the seven deadly sins within moments of arriving in the lobby at CAA. And then there are those shows that blaspheme our creator like Hell's Kitchen and The Big Bang Theory. So it's ironic that the term that TV executives use the term "Bible" for a manual that explains in great detail a show's characters and the direction of the series. As the show progresses, the Bible also serves as an archive of everything the characters do and what storylines have been used so future staffers can quickly get up to speed. Looks like someone needs to get their ass to church.

The Blacklist: One assistant famously thought this was a throwback to the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Actually it's just a just a list of the "best" unsigned movies, all of which will eventually be directed by Jason Reitman.

Book a Pilot: Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger rumored $2.5 million deal recounting US Air's Flight 1549 is a Pilot Book. Booking a Pilot, on the other hand, is when your client secures a role on a show that won't make it to air because NBC sees greater profit margins in shows like The Great American Road Trip.

Brads: Pitt, Garrett and Hall (Mr. Julia Louis-Dreyfus)? Nope. These are simply the brass fasteners used to hold scripts together. Yep. Glorified paper clips. But as a glorified intern, you'll need to know what they are and how to use them. [Tip: To hold a script together, only use two "Brads," putting one in the top and bottom hole. If you use three, you'll risk major embarrassment. Trust me on this one.]


Business Affairs: Once an agent finishes negotiating their client's deal in principle with the producers, it gets passed off to Business Affairs to make sure they don't get sued (or if they get sued, they win). These people are lawyers who decided to avoid the stress and money that comes along with working at a law firm, and simply fill out Mad Lib-style contract from 9-6 and make $150k/year.


Can I have him/her return?: Short for "Can I have him/her
return your call?" which is then short for "The Hollywood executive you're trying to reach is talking to someone more important than you and/or is ignoring your call. When he/she is ready, I will dial the phone for for him/her (as this person is above such labor-intensive tasks) and discuss, albeit briefly, whatever you want."  [Amusing anecdote: When Temp X moved to LA, he was "rolling calls" with his boss. The assistant on the other end said her boss was unavailable and, "Can I have him return?" To which Temp X asked, "Return what?"]


CB: C.W. McCall had a #1 hit in 1975 with the song "Convoy". It's really an awful song that probably inspired such other crap as "Pac-Man Fever", "General Hospi-Tale" and anything from Miley Cyrus. The one semi-positive influence it had was it started the CB craze that lasted until the movie Convoy came out in 1978. But in Hollywood, CB simply means "Call Back." So next time you IM your boss that his least favorite client is on the phone, and he responds "CB," you can just reply "10-4 good buddy." C.W. would be so proud.

Coverage: In a town where those wearing the fewest clothes win, coverage would seem to be the last thing anyone in Hollywood would want. But writers crave coverage. Could this be because writers are ugly and, if given the option, would prefer pull the bed sheets up to their eyes making them look like one of the Sand People? Nope. The coverage we crave has nothing to do with $300 True Religion hip-huggers or Christian Audigier belly shirts. Coverage for us is when a Hollywood exec's assistant compiles a three paragraph, Cliffs Notes summary of your 160-page Magnum Opus, thus sparing the exec from doing his job. Months later, after you've been rejected, you find out the assistant didn't grasp your modern interpretation of Shakespeare's Cymbeline because she's "more of an America's Next Top Model fan."

Craft Services: - This simply means the food table where the dregs of a production graze on Doritos, peanut butter, bagels and Red Vines. No term in Hollywood is less applicable than "Craft Services" as no food on the table indicates any level of "Craft" and there there certainly is no "Service." In the event you're looking for a the director or producer during lunch, don't go to craft services. They've ordered delivery from Sushi Roku.

Cuts: Think of these simply as drafts of the final project, like the early versions of your film school thesis, "Akira Kurosowa and his use of weather as an allegory for Sino-Japanese relations." Once you realized you'd pulled this topic out of your ass and none of it was true, you turned your thesis into a review of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and got an A. Oh, and cuts are video. But whatever.

Dailies: - The unassembled raw footage from a TV or movie shoot. The producers pick the "best" (a relative term) version of each scene and cobble it together into another captivating episode of Kath and Kim. The only interesting dailies are the ones where a celeb goes ape shit over nothing. (NSFW) Not to be confused with a "nooner," or what your boss does during lunch with someone he's not married to.

DBNR: Not to be confused with MGMT (a music group), ATGC (genetic sequencing), ESPN (the sports cable network), TARP (the bailout package for the banks) or DBNRRC (Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center), this means Dictated But Not Read. You'll typically put this at the end of a memo that's so needless as to make you wonder why you wrote it and why your boss is sending it. Think of it this way, if it was actually important, wouldn't your boss look at it?

Desk: Most often heard in the sentence, "Whose DESK did/do you work on?" This simply means "Who is your boss?" But as most assistants are tethered to their desk (literally or via Blackberry) and hardly ever leave the office, this is a more apt term.

Drive On: While this sounds like something your boss might do TO YOU with his new Porsche Cayenne to test out the all-time 4WD, it's really just a permission slip to get on to a studio lot. For those of you who can't afford cars (which is pretty much every assistant), you'll get something called a "Walk On."

Double Banger: Doesn't have anything to do with the Olsen Twins, the Sklar Brothers or any other marginally relevant monozygotic offspring. It's a term for the on-set trailer a celeb uses to snort cocaine, throw up lunch or violate probation in between takes. The size of a celeb's "banger" is inversely proportional to the size of their [insert body part].

Encore:  When I saw David Lee Roth play the Hollywood (FL) Sportatorium in 1986 he did a lot of things.  He gyrated, he swore, he even rode a giant, inflatable microphone.  But one thing he didn't do is play a song from his main set during the encore.  He knows that the public will savor a performance of "Yankee Rose" if he plays it once.  If he plays it twice, the audience gets annoyed because they'd rather him play "Hot for Teacher."  TV execs haven't yet grasped this concept.  As a result, networks like the CW will air a re-run (or as they call it "Encore") of America's Next Top Model three days after its initial broadcast.  They obviously think using a French word makes it more palatable.  Do you think they know a croque monsieur is a ham and cheese sandwich?

First Position: Some actors (and periodically producers or writers) are in such high demand that they will work on two different projects at the same time. But unless you're so advanced that you can defy the space-time continuum and be in two places at the same time, one production has to win out for scheduling purposes. This is called First Position. So when Katherine Heigl tells Chandra Rimes that she just accepted a part as the lead in Zyzzyx Road: The Return to Nowhere, Chandra says, "Fine, but Grey's Anatomy is still in first position because we need you to be here while we slowly kill off your character."

Flying Solo: When hired to be a Hollywood Executive's assistant, a new employee will incur numerous days of training on proper procedure for pampering...errr...working for their boss. This includes things like: How many water bottles do they want on their desk each morning, which calls they never want to take and knowing to schedule meetings around the executive's weekly massage. Once you've spent a week observing this, the trainer leaves and you are left "Flying Solo." Sadly, your desk never actually flies.

General: In a town where everyone believes they're in charge, you'd think that this might have some connection to a military hierarchy.  For example, "My boss is acting like a General again.  When will she learn that she has the same impact on Hollywood as the subway does to traffic on the 101?  That is to say, none at all."  But you'd be wrong.  A General is simply a meeting where an aspiring Hollywooder (writer, director, etc.) meets with a producer or network/studio executive to discuss their background and projects.  If all goes well, the aforementioned executive might hire that person some day.  Generals happen all the time.  The hiring...not so much.

Going Out With It:  What do Rosie O'Donnell, Neil Patrick Harris and Ricky Martin have in common?  If you guessed "None of them can sing, no matter how hard they try," you're right.  Oh they also, finally and mercifully came out of the closet.  But the term "Going out with it" actually has nothing to do with revealing your sexuality to the millions of people who already knew and didn't care.  It actually means that a script has been spell-checked to the point that your agent is ready send it to producers or network/studio executives.  Once these execs get their hands on said document, they might just buy it.  Of course they'll still re-write the hell out of it and shoe-horn in countless product placements.  But a sale is a sale.

Greenlight: The traffic rules in Hollywood -- like many other rules in this town -- are somewhere between opposite and weird. Green means Stop. Yellow means Honk. Red means Speed Up. The traffic cam was supposed to rectify this by scaring people into driving normally. It didn't work. [Tip: A jet-propelled car traveling 245 mph does not trigger the traffic camera.] "Greenlighting" is when a studio executive gives the go-ahead to start making the next great movie/TV show of our time. Recent examples include MacGruber and The Untitled Tony Danza Teaching High School Show. If only these execs remembered that Green means Stop.

Have: (frequently used in, "I don't have this person") No one in Hollywood actually owns anything. Their BMW X5 - leased. Their idea for the next great movie - owned by the studio that made it the first time. Their date to the Benjamin Button premiere - an escort. So when an assistant says they "don't have" their boss, they simply mean this Hollywood exec is busy doing something way more important and is unavailable to speak to you. Such activities may include playing Guitar Hero, doing cocaine or flirting shamelessly with a client.

Headshot: A word that has nothing to do with exacting revenge on your boss. It's just a fancy word for an 8 1/2 x 11 photograph that actors send out in hopes of getting work. You probably know them better from the three piles your boss has on their desk labeled "Potential Client," "Fuckable" or "Garbage."

Hip Pocket Client: This is basically the "booty call" of clients -- all payoff with no effort. It's someone your boss doesn't help get work and doesn't pay any attention to, but if the person gets a gig on their own, your boss will gladly take the 10 percent fee. You'll recognize a hip pocket because he/she is good looking enough to merit consideration, but can't act his/her way out of a paper bag. They may also have done a lot of acting back home -- in Azerbaijan.


Hollywood Hours: The Hollywood work day is 9:30 a.m. - 7 p.m. Why does the day start so late? Rumor has it it's left over from the Cocaine-fueled 1970s when studio execs were partying and doing blow all night, green lighting projects like CORVETTE SUMMER and IT'S ALIVE. So it just pushed the entire schedule back. Then it just stuck.

Honey Wagon: According to Urban Dictionary, "Honey" can be slang for heroin, cocaine and a bunch of -- dare I say -- less appropriate interpretations for the purposes of this blog. So one might think this term is Hollywood speak for a trailer or alternate facility where over-paid talent could a) do copious amounts of coke or other narcotics or b) do copious amounts of copulation. But you'd be wrong, just like your ill-fated attempt to determine what "Double Banger" means. Turns out a "Honey Wagon" is a toilet. What a bummer.


In the Canyon: (used in, "I can't hear you, I'm in the Canyon") Your boss's iPhone can do everything from taking pictures, to playing music, to recommending which 5-star sushi restaurant they should expense today. The one thing it can't do is get good reception, especially when taking Laurel Canyon or Coldwater Canyon. This is also a Hollywood exec's best excuse for getting off the line with an agent by faking being "In the Canyon."


Leave Word: When the person you called isn't there or isn't available to speak, you Leave Word. In the real world we call this Leaving a Message, asking them to call you back, etc. Only in Hollywood would it take two words to leave just one WORD.

Left Word: (See "Leave Word").  Or just read the entry above.  You pick.

Live Action: Try as Jerry Bruckheimer might, talking Guinea Pigs don't actually exist. Cars that turn into laser beam-shooting monsters -- not real either. We in the industry call these CGI-movies, which is abbreviated from the Italian phrase coined by Frederico Fellini "Cinema Grande Idiota." Of course one dumb term deserves another. So those movies that simply involve actors and scripts but have no wise-cracking pets are called "Live Action." May I suggest a more appropriate name -- "People Movies."

Logline: Reading has never been a strength of the Hollywood Executive. This is why agencies hire people whose actual title is "Reader." And if the Hollywood Exec does read, like your average 5-year old, it's only a few words at a time. The logline is a one sentence description of a script like, "Trucks turn into robots and climb the Great Pyramids of Giza." Captivating, right? Not as much as, "Trucks turn into robots and climb the Great Pyramids of Giza while Megan Fox runs in slow motion." Movie sold!!

Looping: Temps and other poorly-compensated, aspiring Hollywood types need to unwind too.  But we can't afford Grey Goose martinis served in diamond-encrusted pimp cups.  Heck, we can barely afford second-hand smoke.  So we do what we can to relax.  Usually this involves stealing a toner cartridge, cracking it open and sticking a pinch of that black powder between our cheek and gum.  The sensation this creates is one of recalling our idealistic visions of Hollywood -- a city overflowing with creativity and the best ideas (ours) rising to the top.  It's kinda like a momentary time machine.  The term looping originates from the "loop" that a paper makes around a photocopier or printer.  Ok, before anyone actually decides to do this and gets sick, I'm kidding.  Looping is when someone goes into a recording studio to re-record the lines they didn't do well the first time.

Martini Shot: At first glance, you're certain this has something to do with the speed at which Kiefer Sutherland, Lindsay Lohan or Mel Gibson throw back the oh-so-tasty combination of gin, vermouth and a couple of olives. Mmm...delicious gin...with your flavored juniper berries. What's that you say Mr. Talking Bottle of Tanqueray? You think I've been seeing other drinks? No. It's just you and me babe. For now and forever...Oh, sorry. I got distracted. The "Martini Shot" is a Hollywood term that describes the last scene to be filmed that day before everyone can go out and do a bunch of coke off a stripper's ass.

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.

Meets: In a town of people with every dietary restriction known and unknown, you might think "Meets" is some sort of Vegan equivalent of "Meats." But it's not. It's a term used to explain a TV or movie ideas to simpleminded Hollywood executive who can't understand a concept that isn't based on another concept. Most often heard in pitches like "It's Titanic meets World War 2" (Pearl Harbor), "Think Star Trek meets the Bible" (Battlefield Earth) or "Visualize Aladdin meets...errr...Shaquille O'Neal" (Kazaam).

Mixer: Hollywood is all about networking. To achieve great heights in this industry, you better get yourself connected to as many people as possible. Important executives do this at award shows, premieres or at rehab. Since the rest of us don't get invited to or remanded to these, we have to mingle where we can. So we go to mixers. Mixers are cheap liquor-soaked events where assistants congregate, bitch about their bosses and network with other people who have no power whatsoever. Occasionally a recently promoted assistant will attend such functions. They are easy to spot because throngs of people sucking up to him/her.

MOW: Cluttering your brain with this information is about as useful as explaining what a 78 record is.  But I'll do it anyway because you never know when old will become new again.  Back during the Nixon and Ford administrations, ABC decided use celebs on the downside of their careers to star in made-for-TV movies.  Such projects included people like Bette Davis in Scream, Pretty Peggy and Brenda Vaccaro with Vincent Price in What's A Nice Girl Like You...? ABC soon realized that it was easier and more cost effective to shove these people on to The Love Boat or Fantasy Island.  As a result, the Movie of the Week (MOW) ended up on the endangered TV species list.  If you look hard enough, you can find a few MOWs lurking.  But they're running opposite a Jersey Shore marathon.  Decisions.

Notes: So let's say you've demonstrated enough discipline and moxie to finish a script. Now you need to go back through and fix all the plot holes and unresolved story lines. The problem is you've spent six months reading and re-reading your own work. You're at the point that you can't even recognize a typo in your name much less find inconsistencies in your main character. That's why you have friends -- or as we writers call them "people who gently provide feedback on our scripts, paying special attention to our fragile psyche." So you give these people your script and ask them what needs fixing. We call these notes. [TIP: "Your script sucks" in not considered an adequate note.]

One Pager: A longer version of a logline -- often one page. For use with an executive who doesn't have ADD and/or a massive cocaine problem rendering an ability to focus comparable of that to a fruit fly. Such documents include things like plot, characters and other things that will be edited out in Post Production.

One Sheet: Not to be confused with a one pager (although it's easy to see how you could). A one sheet is a fancy word for a promotional poster for a movie/TV show. One sheets are often found in public transit stops, assistants' cubicles and other places the haut monde don't frequent.

Option: Hollywood is full of options. Movie or TV. Comedy or Drama. Unemployed or slightly less unemployed. But I digress. An option is the right to purchase a property (e.g. a script, book) after paying the owner a certain holding fee. For example, a highly-intelligent producer might say, "The Temp Diaries could be a great TV series. It's funny, insightful and has great opportunities for product placements. I'd like to pay you a $1 million to option rights to your blog for one year. During that time I will attempt to sell it to HBO, Showtime or Food Network. If I find a buyer, I'll take the whole thing off your hands for $1 billion. If I can't find a buyer, you get to keep the million anyway." [Note: Figures may not reflect current market rate.]

Other Side of the Hill: In New York City, they call them the "Bridge and Tunnel people." In Chicago, you're referred to as a "708er." The snobs from every major city have derogatory terms for people the hicks from the suburbs. In Hollywood, it's no different -- and that term is "Other side of the Hill" to refer to people who live in the San Fernando Valley. You might hear in the sentence "No, she hasn't hit it big yet. She still lives on the Other side of The Hill." [Note: This is not to be confused with "Over the Hill" which simply means you're too old to work in Hollywood. That age is currently 27. ]

Overall: Oshkosh B'Gosh has not identified a new market segment -- one-legged farmers -- and invented apparel just for them. Nope. That's not even close to what an 'overall' is. Funnier? Perhaps. But the reality is an 'overall' is a deal someone signs with a studio to develop projects in exchange for irresponsibly-large sums of money, office space and a front-row parking spot.

P & TY: Short for "Please and Thank You." You'll often see this in a blast email asking other assistants for help doing something that the requester could easily obtain on his or her own. Such an email might say, "Does anyone have the phone number for Fox Television? P & TY." One of these days Temp X is going to send a response that says "N, & YL" (No, and You're Lazy).


Packaging Fee: (a.k.a. "Conflict of Interest Fee") Let's explain this with a case study.  A newbie writer repped by CAA has well-written pilot that could easily be a TV show.  But because of her status as an unknown, networks are unlikely to touch it without an experienced showrunner involved.  This is where the fun kicks in.  Rather than seeking out the best showrunner for the job (who just might be repped at WME2), CAA will only look within their client roster.  Why?  To secure additional money for CAA -- a Packaging Fee.  To heck with what works best creatively.  So in the end, it's a bit like matchmaking at a family reunion.  Your cousin may make the best biscuit ever, but be prepared to have offspring with 12 toes.

Pilot Season: This has nothing to do with plane crashes in the Hudson River or hunting Roman Governors. It's the time of year when the major networks (for the sake of simplicity I'll include NBC and the CW in the "major" category) make sample shows to replace the ill-advised ones they bought last year. For your average assistant, pilot season is a three-month long phone call. If you're still unclear of the concept, perhaps Jules Winnfield can explain it better than I.

Poached: 1. An effective way of cooking foods for both hot or cold service, not only does it produce healthy food but it enhances flavor. It can, however, require considerable skill and judgment particularly with complex shallow poached fish dishes. 2. Something that requires no skill or judgment -- stealing high-profile staff or clients from a competitor, as in the sentence, "CAA just poached UTAs top four agents as well as Jim Carrey and Will Farrell."

Polish: This has nothing to do with jokes about hockey teams drowning during Spring training, screen doors on submarines, light bulb changing with a rotating ladder or being stuck on a broken escalator. This is the other pronunciation of the word (-lish). It means taking your script, incorporating the notes (see above) and making it glisten. This becomes very useful for beating your head against when you see American Gladiator: The Movie has been green lit.

Producer: The son of a Saudi oil sheik and with a net worth of $3.2 billion. This person drives an Audi R8, goes to Sundance, Venice, Toronto, Cannes, Tribeca, SXSW and E3 but never actually attends a screening because he's hung over from P. Diddy's party. When his father threatens to cut him off (a relative term) if he doesn't start making movies, he options the rights to a random graphic novel he saw at Comic-Con. After throwing $10 million at Robert Rodriguez to direct it and Gerard Butler to star, the flick makes $500 million and spawns three sequels and a spin off.

Producer: This person has already made it as an actor but wants to prove they're more than a modern day Christian de Neuvillette. So in exchange for one more season on a show that'll typecast this person for life, they're given this title but with no real power. It's like an honorary doctorate or Ambassador to the UN. The truth is the EP is paying this person more just to stay away.

Producer: This person wears a uniform of a blue blazer, an over-priced vintage concert t-shirt (today it's Motley Crue's "Theatre of Pain") and True Religion jeans. He also has well-groomed facial hair, a faux-hawk (FYI -- that's so 2007), drives a BMW 325 and spends too much of his parents' money at the pool at The Roosevelt. He has recently perfected the art of the man hug.

Producer: This person is just smart and convincing enough to bullshit enough people to look at their project. Never mind that they have no cast, no studio, no distribution and no financing. All it takes is one person to believe this lie. Then the real selling can begin.

Producer: This person does the boring and tedious work the other producers have neither the time, interest nor intellectual capacity to do. This includes activities like developing the creative direction of a project, working with writers, determining cast and crew, creating a marketing strategy and figuring out budgets.

Put a Pin in It: Often used in when scheduling meetings (and for later bailing out of meeting).
Q: Can she do a 3 o'clock meeting with David Lander?
A: I'm not sure. But put a pin in it.
It offers all the certainty of having something penciled in. Or better put, your boss is waiting for anything better to do and will ask you to cancel the meeting at the last minute because of a "scheduling conflict" (read - mani/pedi).

Put Pilot: Apparently this is the point when I run out of funny, so I'll just define it.  It's when a studio sells a pilot to a network with the understanding that if they don't air the show, they have to pay a heavy penalty.  Golly, I can be quite dull.

Resies: (pronounced "rez-ees") Short for restaurant reservations. Because those extra two syllables are such a bitch to pronounce. VEY-SHUNS. VEY-SHUNS. Eh, never mind. "Hi. Is this the Farm? I need resies for 2 at 1."

Rolling Calls: A favorite of Temp X. When first interviewing to become a Temp, he was asked if he knew how to "Roll Calls." "What's that?" Temp X replied. "Well, when the exec wants to make a series of calls in rapid succession, it's 'Rolling Calls.'" "So you mean do I know how to dial the phone?" "Ummmmm....."

Rockstar Assistant: There's no term in Hollywood that makes less sense than "Rockstar Assistant" -- not "Prequel," "Director's Cut" or "Ankles." Yet it's used all the time ostensibly to describe a hard working assistant. (Run-on sentence alert!) How there is any connection between someone whose life is a party infrequently interrupted by performing in front of thousands of adoring fans and an assistant for an egomaniac Hollywood agent who would sooner quit than offer an ounce of praise is beyond me. Or perhaps a better question is would a record label promote their star as "A PowerPoint-Savvy Musician?"

Running Lines: No one in Hollywood has ever done cocaine.  Stop laughing.  I'm serious.  Ok, maybe I can't explain why there are eight drug rehab facilities within four miles of each other in Hollywood.  I can assure you it has nothing to do with Aunt Nora, Baseball, Bazulco, Batman, Beam, Bernie’s Gold Dust, Big Bloke, Big Flake, Blanca, Blow, Bump, C-dust, Candy Cane, Coke, Coca, Line, Rail, Stash, Snow, Snow White or Yeyo.  So if anyone thinks that "Running Lines" is shorthand for chopping up a white powder on mirror, rolling up a $50 bill and snorting away, you're sadly mistaken.  It's simply a term actors use for rehearsing their portion of a script.

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.

Shingle: It's well known that in 1985 Richard Nixon came down with a case of Herpes Zoster. But did you know he wasn't the only former President to catch this itchy, viral disease? Herbert Hoover (a.k.a. The worst President until 2001) caught Shingles in 1947. Now normally a posting that includes Hollywood and Herpes immediately makes one think of Paris Hilton, but this has nothing to do with her either. If you have a "Shingle," it simply means you have a production deal with a studio and, as part of the deal, they provide you some office space.

Sides: Not quite sure how this word came into Hollywood vernacular, but we're stuck with it. It simply means selected pages of a script that are read during the course of an audition. You'll probably hear as your boss yells at you, "Courier, fax and email those fucking sides to [client's] house pronto! And then get me some coffee!"
 
Summer Hours: At first glance, "Summer Hours" kinda sounds like the name of a porn star with the unique ability to [CENSORED] for extended periods of time. But it's not. It's just when companies allow their employees (including the assistants) the chance to leave work at 1 p.m. on select Fridays between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Naturally, the execs take off at 12:30 p.m. while their assistants view it as a small victory if they can cut out before 5 p.m. and are able to avoid Hollywood Bowl traffic.

Technically Available: (a.k.a. "tech avail") This has nothing to do with your IT department fixing your boss's laptop because she spilled a VRB on it. It's used to describe when and actor/director/writer/etc. could do a project if nothing more desirable comes through. Or Danny Boyle's agent might say, "Yeah, he's technically available to direct Hotel For Dogs if we can't work out a deal on Slumdog Millionaire."

Tentpole: To the general public, these are probably better known as "Blockbusters" or "Dammit Louise, you know I hate standing in line for a movie!" But in the finance department of WB, Uni Studios, Paramount and others, these movies are called Tentpoles because they prop up the company's annual revenues by bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars in ticket sales, merchandising and DVD sales to offset all the movies that made no money. Some studios do get excited too early about a Tentpole and they're stuck with a mess they need to clean up. These are called "Premature Tentpoles" (e.g., Speed Racer, Land of the Lost).

Thick Skin: Most often seen on a job listing "Must have thick skin." Translation: "Boss may have one or more of the following conditions: anger management issues, Napoleon complex, drives a Japanese car (while all co-workers drive German), acute paranoia, needs another Chai Tea Latte immediately, can't figure out how to make the f***ing email work."

THX: Strangely this Hollywood term has nothing to do George Lucas' company or that earsplitting noise you'll hear at the multiplex. This is simply assistant speak for "thanks," which is the informal version of "thank you" (abbreviated "TY"). How is it that the abbreviation of the shortened version is actually longer than the abbreviation of the longer version?

Treatment: I know what you're thinking.  And no, it still has nothing to do with cocaine.  Nor does it have anything to do with people confused by the LAPD's recent shuttering of more than 400 medical pot retailers.  Why does everyone always think people in Hollywood are drug addicts?  But enough of my paranoia, a "Treatment" is a summary of a show idea.  They are usually between one and four pages and include things like what the show is about, the characters and sample episode ideas.

Weekend Read: A trick question, right? No one in Hollywood can read. Thus, whatever a "Weekend Read" is, it has nothing to do with "weekends" or "reading." Duped you! Turns out just enough Hollywood execs passed Hooked on Phonics: Volume 1 that their bosses give them scripts to read for homework. Then, like a book club Scottsdale, the whole crew gathers together the following Monday morning for a few cocktails and discusses possible staffing ideas for the next great, needless remake. This week: A Star Is Born.

whorepresents.com: The most popular website among Hollywood execs who cheat on their spouses. It provides an excellent selection of products for all types of homewreckers including secret hotel rooms, slutty underwear and first look deals all for the low, low price of...uh, what was that? Oh never mind. It's "Who Represents" not "Whore Presents" and is simply a list Hollywood talent and their agents. Oh.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Temp X. Your wit made me LOL, even as I sit here wallowing in my sorrows, temp-jobless and unemployed again.

Anonymous said...

Just FYI people in Chicago haven't used the term 708ers in god knows how long. So long that this 23 year old Temp X reader had to ask his parents about it. And even they scoffed at how old of a phrase it was.

Anonymous said...

I remember sitting in an interview for a temp agency when the term "rolling calls" was asked to me. In total honesty I did not know how to answer because I thought, is this person asking me if I know how to dial a series of phone calls. I love how your reaction was the same.

Anonymous said...

You had me at HELLO! That and the reference to the Sportatorium!!!
South Florida Baby!

Anonymous said...

I love you. Really. So helpful. So delicious. So funny. So sad. Like a good martini. Gulp.

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