Category Archives: Managers

shooting star 4

Shooting Star

by Michael Brandman

Who in Hollywood can control this hugely talented film actor hell bent on causing trouble? 3,754 words. Illustrations by Mark Fearing.


It was only after he achieved superstar status that Rick Myer’s life issues began to surface. He was twenty seven and totally unprepared for the adulation he was receiving.

He had grown up in South Orange, New Jersey, the son of an alcoholic father and an adoring mother who devoted her life to serving his every need.

At age seventeen, having previously shown no interest in pretty much anything, he announced his intention to become an actor. His mother took it in stride and arranged for him to take private lessons with a Manhattan based acting coach.

Each Saturday Rick would take a Lackawanna local to Hoboken, catch the subway to Grand Central Station, then hike uptown to Fifty Seventh Street where he studied acting in the living room of Dora Weissman’s one bedroom apartment. Weissman, a veteran performer and long time acting teacher, did all she could to guide and inform him, but soon found him to be a difficult and headstrong student. Plus, he frightened her.

One night, at a dinner party held in honor of the Yiddish Theatre luminary, Shmuel Alter, she bumped into the estimable acting guru, Frederic Augsburger, and recommended Rick to him as a possible candidate for his Actor’s Salon.

Augsburger expressed interest and the following week, having watched Rick perform a pair of scenes that he and Weissman had prepared, he invited him to join the Salon.

After barely a month of intensive scene study, and against Augsburger’s wishes, Rick hustled an audition for the upcoming Broadway play, Caged.

"You’re not ready," Augsburger told him.

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A Great Bad Year 3A

A Great Bad Year
Part Three

by Anne Goursaud

The director wraps her film by punishing and praising those who deserve it. 2,474 words. Part One. Part Two. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


Fed up with my lead actress Brittany, I decided to pay a visit to Rex Durand in his suite. The famous actor in my movie Lost Encounter, now shooting,  was not feeling well. His bodyguard was at his side. His dresser was also there. Everyone confided that Brittany was sleeping with the screenwriter. I had to wonder how much rehearsal had really been going on between them. Obviously, very little. For an actress already on shaky ground, would this affair be the final blow? I had to talk to the scripter. I was sworn to secrecy not to reveal my sources, as the lovers did not want me to know.

The following day another six hours were los because of Brittany. Once more, we did the best we could by shooting around her. I had had enough. At first, the screenwriter denied anything was going on. I told him I knew the truth and it was pointless to deny it. And if her work kept suffering, they ultimately were hurting the film. He promised to keep the situation under control. I was still naïve enough to believe that he would help the film by making sure Brittany was prepared.

On our schedule the following week was the fashion show and that was when the film’s producer Lawrence Perlman arrived. He was to be a first row extra. We had secured a very large space with plenty of room to build a stage and a walkway as well as the biggest Atlas crane to make the most of the expanse. Inspired by Chanel, I had asked for a series of multiple mirrors on the stage and liked the results. And my costume supervisor pulled off a miracle with the clothes and all the accoutrements and secrets of a great stylist. The difficulty had been to make the fashion believable and she had done so a thousand times over.

My personal challenge at this point was physical. I became sick on the very first day of the shoot. The pressure of it all, and the very cold weather, had gotten the best of me. By the third day, I was barely conscious. Between takes, I wrapped myself in blankets, doped myself with flu medicine, drank a lot of hot liquid and prayed that lighting would take a little longer before I had to spring back into action.

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A great bad year 2

A Great Bad Year
Part Two

by Anne Goursaud

The film director now contends with off-screen drama from her lead actor and actress. 2,069 words. Part One. Part Three. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


Everybody was thrilled with the progress of pre-production of Lost Encounter. The picture had survived another day. Luckily, I made a great choice for a director of photography the second time around. Working with my chosen few on our still imaginary film had its laughs and daily rewards. And we ate well. We were in Paris after all.

It was February 12th, and the start of production was now two weeks away. I had begged for a later start but the rights to the story owned by the people who had made the original film were expiring. We had to go. It was a mad dash. My producer Lawrence Perlman asked me to meet with the American actress who said she loved the project and thought the world of me – in other words, the usual Hollywood crap.

Beyond exhausted, I agreed to meet her. “No strings attached,” I was assured. Later on, a story went around that our film’s leading man Rex Durand had seen a magazine with a photo of the American actress, pointed his finger and said: “That one. I want that one.”

When I met with Brittany in my hotel suite, she was physically impressive. Tall beautiful body, luscious red hair like Rita Hayworth’s, an uncomplicated but pretty face. She was oozing charm and promising to be the best collaborator I ever had. I could not think of one reason not to hire her. I gave her the part on the spot. At that point in time, if I had rejected Brittany, the film would have collapsed or I might have been fired. I did want to direct so I let this one slip by.

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Happy Birthday Stu ART

Happy Birthday, Dear Stu

by Richard Natale

Two ex-roomies reconnect; one stayed in showbiz, the other didn’t. Who’s happier? 4,245 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.


In late May, I received a birthday invitation in the mail. Heavy stock, handsomely embossed, the kind of formal announcement that has increasingly fallen prey to Evites. I almost felt underdressed opening it.

The return address said “Rothberg”. A common enough last name in L.A.. But the invitation was from a specific Rothberg – Stu Rothberg.

Odd, I thought.

Showbiz has been very good to Stu Rothberg. A couple of years back he shared a Best Picture Oscar with another producer and one of his clients took home the Best Actress award. He now breathes the rarified air that wafts in over the Pacific to the promontory in the Palisades where he resides and didn’t have the time or inclination to rekindle our friendship.

Not long ago I saw Stu at a charity event, and he gave me the “Hollywood freeze” – staring directly through me with a blank-faced fixed gaze. The message was clear: “I see you, but I’m pretending not to. So please play along.” A silly game, but not an uncommon one, particularly in Hollywood with its site-specific caste system. Events are for networking, and he can’t very well network with someone who isn’t even on the grid.

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The Big Get 2B

The Big Get

by Jeffrey Peter Bates

A P.I. is asked to investigate the reigning box office champ for an endorsement deal. 2,412 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.


McNulty didn’t look anything like what he was. And what he was was one of the best private eyes in Hollywood. Sure, others in the profession preferred confidential investigator, but McNulty liked the slangy old school designation. It had a nice earthy ring to it.

McNulty gave Musso & Frank’s the once over. It was still the same: comfortable, discrete and out-of-the-way. Which is why McNulty always chose it whenever a prospective client wished to retain his services. As always, McNulty arrived thirty minutes early to secure the back corner booth before regulars and tourists streamed in for lunch amid the dark hardwood paneling, white linen tablecloths, worn red leather booths and polished mahogany bar where many of the town’s biggest celebs, current and long gone, were known to knock back a few.

“The usual,” McNulty told the red-jacketed waiter who looked as old as the Hollywood sign.

“Glen Livet, neat,” the waiter said with a slight bow. “Coming right up.”

McNulty leaned back and closed his eyes. For a few moments, he imagined Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade, elbows on the bar and shot glasses in their fists, swapping lies about their latest investigations. Funny thing, though: in his mind’s eye, they both looked like Humphrey Bogart because he’d played their characters in classic films.

“Mister McNulty? I’m—“

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Closing the deal FINAL2

Closing The Deal

by Allison Silver

An ex-studio boss tries to cast a crazy music superstar in the first film he’s producing. 3,704 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


Ben had been working on Art Manning, hard, for almost a week now.

They had done business together in past, since Manning was a powerful lawyer whose roster of A-list clients could set a deal in motion and often helped close it. He was regarded as a combative litigator, but also as a top-notch negotiator – something not always said about powerful entertainment attorneys.

When Manning came in to negotiate a deal, he never inadvertently killed it. He was not one of those lawyers whose art collections were more celebrated than their legal skills.

Ben knew that many industry lawyers were only too happy to have Manning in on a negotiation. It was one way of assuring that they would get the best possible pay-out for their client – as long as they were on the same side of the table as Manning.

Now Ben needed help for the new independent production company he was starting. He didn’t want to admit it, but he’d been unnerved by his most recent industry party. He had never thought that roughly a third of his guests would leave once he was no longer head of a studio. Was this something he needed to worry about now? Should he prepare for a life of slights? His name falling off an important agent’s call list? Never making it to the top of the queue to buy a Gursky? Ben cut off this line of thought. It was a waste of time. He had built his many relationships over years of doing business. Relationships were what mattered in Hollywood. People would always take his calls.

This picture was a good starting point. It would grab that attention of everyone in town. Over the years, many different directors and producers had tried to set up this script. But it had eluded, even stumped, them all.

Ben was certain that he had the key. Howard would make it work. Ben decided that it was going to take longer than he had planned to assemble a deal. A slog, not a quick march. But he had the skills – and patience – required to win. And winning was all that mattered.

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Tom Ford Suit - tv

The Tom Ford Tuxedo

by Bernard Weinraub

OSCAR FICTION PACKAGE: The producer of a film nominated for big awards fixates on what to wear. 7,054 words. Illustrations by Mark Fearing.


He didn’t sleep the night before the Oscar nominations, which they announce on television about 5:30 am L.A. time in order to catch the prime morning audience on the East Coast at 8:30 am. He took an Ambien. Watched TCM, which played Hitchcock’s Marnie, not one of the director’s best. Charlie had met Hitchcock once, while working at Universal publicity. The old man was neither rude nor arrogant — like so many of the less talented directors now — just indifferent. His mind always seemed to be elsewhere. He was odd. He was intimidating. He was Hitchcock.

By 5 am, Charlie had his television on KNBC. There was a traffic tie-up on the 405 because of a minor car accident near the Getty. A liquor store robbery in Mar Vista. A seeing-eye dog missing in Griffith Park reunited with its tearful owner.

Charlie had lived in L.A. for 22 years. Why was local television so ridiculous here? His hands were shaking when he poured the coffee. On the TV there was some blather that people should bundle up because the temperature would stay at a chilly 63 degrees (arctic weather in L.A.). Meteorologists were predicting heavy rain by late afternoon in the Antelope Mountains then moving towards the Southland. They made it sound like a tsunami was coming. He put a drop of low-fat milk and a Splenda in the coffee cup.

He heard the trucks from the fire station a block away. On some evenings the noise woke him up but he was reassured when he heard the alarm bells. It was not a bad neighborhood. Only a few blocks from Abbot Kinney. But it wasn’t a great neighborhood, either. There was a gang stabbing in Venice a few weeks back. He wished he could move out of the apartment and live closer to Santa Monica or even in the Palisades.

He heard the two newspapers plunk against the door. He lived on the second floor. He had the Los Angeles Times delivered, though wasn’t sure why. It was a luxury to get The New York Times, but he still considered himself a New Yorker. He didn’t have too many luxuries. But getting The New York Times was one of them. He didn’t go to the door.

On the television now, two young actors appeared on the Academy stage with a grotesquely large Oscar statue behind them. The president of the Academy, who inexplicably got the job despite his years of failures as a producer, seemed nervous. He always wore suits like a banker, The trades always called him a "respected producer." Respected for what?

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Working From Home 1 v3

Working From Home

by Adam Scott Weissman

It’s his first Hollywood job. So his film producer boss changes his life – but not for good. Part One. 3,498 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.


Scott

“This is Cara in Arielle Castle’s office. Is this Scott?”

“Yes.”

“So you’re looking for a job?”

I jumped out of my seat, suddenly extremely conscious of the fact that I was wearing nothing but boxer shorts. It was 104 degrees in Burbank and, despite what the advertising tells you, they don’t have air-conditioning in every unit at the Oakwood Apartments. I wanted to be in “the business” more than anything. When people told me it was a brutal industry and that I should try something else, it just made me want it more. My parents had told me in no uncertain terms that I had better get a job, and soon. "Because," my mom had said, ‘your father and I are only paying that exorbitant $1,050 for a studio apartment for one more month." I wondered if Arielle Castle had air conditioning in her office.

“Yes. Absolutely,” I answered, quickly navigating my laptop to IMDb.com. I typed in “Arielle Castle.” I had applied for hundreds of jobs online: the UTA job list, EntertainmentCareers.net, studio job portals – you name it. This was the first time anyone had called back.

“Can you come in for an interview tomorrow at 11 a.m.?”

“Yes. I would love — That would be great. Yes. Thank you,” I sputtered, scanning Arielle Castle’s list of credits. There were 29 of them – nearly one movie a year for the past three decades, including some major franchises and Oscar winners. She was always credited as “Associate Producer”.

“Okay. Arielle will meet you at her house. It’s 974 Knob Tree Avenue, Sherman Oaks.”

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Callback FINAL

Call Back

by Tom Teicholz

A producer, writer, and songstress whose careers are slipping away find one another. 4,265 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


Dan Schneider was feeling desperate. It was Labor Day and he had gone into the office because he didn’t know what to do with himself. Looking at the four walls of his rented executive suite, bare save for three colored Post-its on the wall listing the three movie projects he still had to his name as a producer, he wondered what he was going to do.

Last spring, he had an office on the Fox lot, an assistant, a development exec, and a parking spot. He received a salary and a contribution was paid to his health plan. He had a movie set up at Warner Bros, with not one but two major stars attached; three movies at Showtime, two financed by Fox, the third by Paramount; a project at TNT with a director attached; and two Internet series he was developing for online streaming service Cupboard.

In July, Dan’s first-look deal at Fox didn’t get renewed. The head of the studio was under a mandate to cut costs, and she decided to cut deals. She wasn’t going to cut her own salary, was she? Dan would have enjoyed hating her, but it wasn’t long before she lost her job, too. She had spent two years screaming about how everyone else was an idiot. Now no one would hire her. No one owed her and no one wanted to be in business with her. She had pissed off too many people. Her career was over. By contrast, Dan was a producer. A salesman. He would continue to do what he did, and once one of his projects went into production, he would get another deal. Or so he believed.

Then Showtime put two of his three projects into turnaround. The TNT project died. Cupboard imploded during a mini-tech bubble correction. And the news on his strongest project, the feature at Warner Bros, was not great — his executive had left her job and the studio decided to put a new writer on the project. Dan had come up with the original idea and brought it to the writer; together they’d taken it to the executive, who became a close friend. It was as if Dan had been standing in the center of the room and was now exiled to a corner down the hall. The writing was on the wall: The project would proceed, but he would have less and less to do with it.

Since leaving Fox, Dan had lined up more than $1 million in fees from his production projects, but the effect on the current balance in his checking account was negligible. In the past year Dan had given up the following: his assistant (a huge savings as he paid her salary, her parking, and her health care); his personal trainer (for the cost of one session he joined the YMCA, which had a gym where there was no chance of running into anyone he knew); his shrink; and his business manager. A guy used to come to his house once a week to wash his car. Now he went to the car wash once every two weeks, on Tuesdays, which was bargain day.

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The Actress - John Mann Illustrations - final

The Actress

by Amy Sohn

A talented young actress finds herself on the verge of a huge break for her nascent career. 4,983 words. Illustration by John Mann.


For the first 10 minutes, the Alpine Theater was quiet. She glanced down the row at her fellow actors. A snuffle emanated from one of the front rows. Maddy feared it had come from a trade critic. As the movie went on,  Maddy began to hear more laughs. Later, when the emotional pitch rose, the audience went silent. When the end credits rolled over an indie pop song, there was a long beat, and then the moviegoers began to applaud, a few at a time. The reviewers dashed out. Maddy tried to read their body language. The house lights came on and the team went to the stage for the Q&A. Each chair had a bottle of water on it, and Maddy drank gratefully, feeling dizzy and hoping not to faint from the mountain altitude.

The moderator introduced the panel. A grandmotherly woman raised her hand. Maddy noticed, next to the woman, a young man nodding vigorously. It was Zack Ostrow, the young agent she had met at the opening-night party. He had come. At ten in the morning. He was a man of his word. Maddy squinted to see if he was with his mother. "Dan and I came up with the story together,” Maddy answered

Someone else asked if Dan considered it a women’s film. Co-star Kira spoke into her mike. “Dan gave us a gift. He writes women so well, it’s almost like he has a vagina.” Everyone laughed. “And in a sense, he does. Maddy’s vagina.” They laughed harder. Maddy stiffened. She knew Kira wasn’t trying to upstage her, but Kira was easygoing and goofy, and Maddy knew she seemed remote by comparison. Or maybe the oxygen deprivation was turning her paranoid.

On the street after the screening, as Dan and Maddy headed up Mountain Way, a voice came from behind them. “Maddy, you were sensational.” Zack Ostrow.

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Dying On A Bed Of Nails

Dying On A Bed Of Nails

by Nikki Finke

The men who run Mendelson Management wanted the women to just shut up and do their crappy jobs. That’s when the shit hit the fan. 4,267 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


A handful of women managers working at the same management firm controlled a growing group of hot young talent that Hollywood was just beginning to beg for. The women had signed these actors and actresses at the beginning of their careers and choreographed their every move up the ladder until huge salaries and successful features were just within their grasps. That was the Mendelson Management way: to nurture talent. Unfortunately, what was not the Mendelson way was to nurture women managers.

The transformation of these female millennials from salaried employees to star managers occurred so subtly that it escaped the notice of the firm’s middle-aged partners who instead kept their eyes more firmly affixed on the bottom line as well as on their own fat asses. The result was that Mendelson was the worst by far of the major management companies which indulged in that gambit played by male-dominated Hollywood to subordinate women: institutionalized sexism.

Mendelson had never had a female partner. There had never even been a woman in its training program. Instead, almost every woman manager had started at the company as a secretary and risen in spite of the prevailing system. That created a kind of girl posse. Instead of the female frenemies common to Hollywood studios or networks or agencies, the Mendelson women were BFFs and truly liked one another. They even worked as a team, sharing and pairing on certain clients to the extent that it became hard for Hollywood to tell exactly whose client was whose. But as their clients became celebs, so, too, did these female managers.

At one time they’d had a “mother” figure. Whether teetering on stilletos to visit an action thriller director on a location only accessible by a rope ladder, or screaming down the hallways to someone eight offices away, she’d been a character to some, but also a mentor to the Mendelson women. She was not afraid to bitch-slap the Mendelson males on behalf of the females. Her corner of the headquarters even looked like a sorority house as, at the end of the day, she and her pledges would gather in her office, sprawl on the couches and chillax together.

The women had personality traits in common. They were relentless and obnoxious, to the point that Hollywood complained they were bitches on platform heels. But those same qualities also made them great managers. None of them had grown up with money or connections. Nor could they rely on their looks. They were mostly short and rather plain. Indeed their mentor once ordered the only near-beauty among them to cut her long wavy auburn hair. (“Because if you’re dealing with a man, he’s not going to know whether to fuck you or sign you as his manager. And if it’s a woman, she’s not going to want you near her husband or boyfriend. So cut your hair.”)

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Diary Of A Mad Tv Executive

Diary Of A Mad Executive

by Cynthia Mort

He knew no one in television and quickly came to know everybody. Who will stop his rise? 5,069 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


THE EARLY YEARS

Weight was always an issue for me, when I was young. An Italian boy from Ohio, I was basically loved to fat by my mother. All the love she didn’t get from my father, she gave to me — in huge pans of lasagna, monster portions of risotto, and gigantic slabs of tiramisu. I ate it all; it was so worth it to see her smile as I cleaned my plate.

So, at 21, I was living at home, a short fat Mama’s boy, a community college graduate, and in my private moments, gay. One night, right after my father kissed me with a look of disgust that was hard to hide, I went downstairs — I was living in the basement, my star athlete brother getting the only other bedroom upstairs — and sat in the dark, thinking. I stayed down there for days, not that anyone noticed. Well, my mother would pass down food whenever she was depressed.

And to me there only seemed one place to go, one dream to live, one big, great fuck-you-to-everyone-who-ever-made-fun-of-me — Hollywood.

My first job in Hollywood was not the mailroom, it was as an assistant to the assistant of the assistant to the assistant of the assistant to the Executive Vice President of the major cable network. I could not believe when I walked through those basement doors for my interview.

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