Hollywood Explained Part I
In the next few entries, I will explain a little bit about Hollywood for those curious about how things work there:
Whenever you are in Los Angeles, as I was for the last week, you have meetings. That’s what people do. They have meetings. All day, every day: breakfast meetings, morning meetings, lunch meetings, after-lunch meetings, dinner meetings, followed by more meetings over after-dinner drinks. I meet you. You meet me. We meet. We might even arrange to meet again. Often, these meetings aren’t even about anything specific, but they give purpose and structure to a town whose entire existence is predicated on the creation of fantasy. Everybody’s hope is that these whirring, airy meetings will somehow magically spin all those sugary words into delicious Hollywood cotton candy.
Over the hundred years or so of Hollywood’s existence, these meetings have evolved into their own intricate art form as ritualized and strange as a Japanese tea ceremony.
The first thing that happens is your people call their people. In Los Angeles, everybody has people. All kinds of people: agents, managers, lawyers, business managers, publicists, personal assistants. And all of those people have people. Even if you don’t want people, you have people. You have no choice in the matter. In Hollywood people are like the cute little Tribbles from the old “Star Trek” show. Somebody brought one onto the Enterprise. It seemed harmless enough, but soon there were a few more Tribbles, then hundreds, then thousands. Eventually the ship was stuffed with Tribbles, threatening to suffocate everybody with their cuteness. At the end of the episode Captain Kirk figured out how to get rid of the Tribbles, but nobody has figured out how to do that yet in Hollywood.
So your people call their people. You cannot call yourself. Even if you did, the person you are trying to call would not answer the phone. People do not answer their own phones in Hollywood, which is strange because everybody is always on the phone. Who are they talking to? People. Probably agents. Agents are the gatekeepers to the meetings. Without agents, meetings could not happen. Nobody would ever meet anybody. Hollywood would be a town filled with people who have not met but because there are agents, everybody seems to know everybody else. If you don’t know somebody, you take a meeting.
So your agent sets up a meeting. Or, more precisely, your agent’s assistant sets it up. Because the agent has people, too. Your agent’s assistant calls the assistant of whomever it is you are hoping to meet. A meeting is set. Your agent’s assistant calls your manager’s assistant, who calls you to tell you about the meeting. If you are an actor, you need an agent and a manager. What is the difference? I have been in this business for twenty years and I still have no idea. Basically each is there to make sure the other one is doing their job. You might think it would make sense to simply hire one person who will simply do their job, but that is not the way of Hollywood; their philosophy is why hire one person when two will do the job just as poorly?
So the meeting is arranged, the assistant calls you (or if you are like many actors, your assistant) and you ask, “What is this meeting about?” And they say, “It’s a general.”
A general is how people in Hollywood get to know each other, kind of like a first date. Except that it’s far more intimate because unlike regular dates, the first thing you do at these meetings is to tell each other you love them. This is a very important part of the ritual. As soon as you are in the same room, they tell you how much they love you, you tell them how much you love them, you agree that you love each other and will continue loving each other in the future, and then you never hear from them again.
In Part II I will tell you about how these meetings go down and the amount of potential liquid involved.