Issue #89 – “Ruminations on Hollywood Life” – May 15th, 2006

-Nine months ago, I moved to Los Angeles for the opportunity to further my writing and stand-up careers and possibly touch a fake breast.  Hollywood is usually not kind to newcomers, but I’ve had a blast so far.  I think it’s partly because I’m a naive New Yorker and partly because, well, people in this business just crack my shit up.  Though I did finally get to touch a fake breast, I still consider myself an outsider in this town (and probably always will).  You knew it was only a matter of time before I wrote this column.  Ladies and gentleman, I present my “Ruminations on Hollywood Life.”

-Unlike when I worked on Wall Street, I love having meetings in Hollywood.  Probably because they include free lunch, I don’t have to shave, and we get to talk about me.

-In LA, if you have a lunch meeting, it’s automatically from 1 to 2pm.  Isn’t that weird?  Everyone in the whole place has lunch at the exact same time!  It’s just like elementary school, except without the immaturity, petty fighting, and unwillingness to share.  OK, actually it’s exactly like elementary school.

-I’m honestly still not sure what producers do.  As near as I can tell, as long as you have a big wooden bookshelf in your office filled with dozens of unread scripts that have the title written in black Sharpie along the spine, you’re a producer.

-During my first big meeting in Hollywood, I was told repeatedly that an idea I’d just pitched was “right in my wheelhouse.”  I nodded and said, “Totally.  It totally is.”  When the meeting ended I immediately ran out and called my agent to ask what the fuck a “wheelhouse” is.  Turns out it means “one’s area of expertise.”  As in “Chicks in wife-beaters who’ve had too much to drink are right in Karo’s wheelhouse.”

-I enjoy saying, “Have your people call my people” and being completely serious about it.  These days, I have people coming out the ying-yang.  At last count, my people consisted of nine agents, an attorney, a publicist, and an accountant.  My accountant especially gets a kick out of being included in that list.  But I tell him, “Andy, we’re cousins.  You’re automatically my people.”

-The concept of an “assistant” was so foreign to me when I moved here, but I’ve come to recognize it as the dominant sub-culture in Los Angeles.  Every producer, executive, and agent has an assistant – usually an overqualified and underappreciated twentysomething – to answer their phones and do their bidding.  Assistants work late nights together, go out boozing together, and of course, fuck each other.  For you Hollywood newcomers, I offer this advice: always pay utmost respect to every assistant you deal with, but keep in mind that their bosses often let the assistants listen in on their conference calls.  My first six months in LA I didn’t realize this fact and mistakenly began most of my conference calls with something like, “Hey, is your assistant hot?  She sounds hot.  And dirty.”

-In the end, I believe I am poised to succeed in Hollywood for two reasons.  One, execs like that I’m a “multi-hyphenate,” an overly fancy term for writer-comedian.  Personally, I prefer to be called a “slashie,” but not everyone gets the Zoolander reference.  And two, I’m also what they call “good in a room,” meaning when I’m in a meeting, everyone seems to laugh and have a good time.  And that’s why I’ll always prefer Hollywood, where cutting people up is rewarded, over Wall Street, where it’s punished.  For lack of a better word, I’ve found my wheelhouse.

-As always, here are some random things I’ve been ruminating about lately…

-The other day I came across an ad for an apartment that said a non-refundable deposit was required for tenants with pets.  My first thought was, why on earth would anyone ever want to live with an animal?  My second thought was, what the hell is a “non-refundable” deposit?  Isn’t that just a fee?

-A few months ago, my friend Shermdog’s sister got engaged and I sent her congratulations via text message.  When my grandmother passed away a few weeks ago, my friend Heather expressed her condolences via e-card.  I gotta tell you, I’m loving this trend toward less and less personal communication.  By the time one of my friends has a baby, all I’m gonna have to do is think really, really hard about how happy I am for them.

-Well, I never thought it would come to this, but I’ve been blackballed by my own high school.  I was invited to speak to the senior class last year about college, and I did so the only way I knew how – with the honest truth.  The kids loved it and I felt I’d done them a service by letting them know what actually to expect in college without sugarcoating it.  Apparently certain faculty members were offended by my discussions of “syllabi,” “fraternities,” and “throwing up on chicks,” and I am now banned from speaking at my alma mater, Plainview Old-Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School.  And to think I bled my own blood on that soccer field.

-I think the worst job you can have is host or hostess at a restaurant that doesn’t take reservations.  Because all day long you have to pick up the phone and say, “Sorry, we don’t take reservations.”

-I want to give a special Mother’s Day shout to my mom.  Mom, sometimes I just don’t get you.  You start telling stories right in the middle and expect me to piece together what the hell you’re talking about.  Your cell phone battery dies every single day even though you only talk for about fourteen minutes total.  And you consistently refused to DVR “The West Wing” because, you reasoned, it was your favorite show and therefore you “shouldn’t have to.”  But you raised me, and for that you deserve the Medal of Honor.  Even though I grew up in the rough and tumble streets of suburban Long Island, you always kept me out of trouble.  And I’m still so sorry about getting kicked out of high school that time.  But hey, at least it happened nine years after I graduated.  I love you Mom!

-And, finally, I truly believe that if you work hard, if you follow your dreams, if you never give up…about 85% of the time you still fail.  I mean, come on, let’s be realistic.  Hollywood is littered with the dreams of those who tried really hard.  It’s the other 15%, who by some combination of luck and the X-factor have fulfilled all their wildest fantasies, that I strive to join.  This week, in New York City, the annual “upfront” presentations are taking place, which is when the television networks traditionally announce their new shows for the coming season (only to abruptly cancel them a few months later).  All week, Hollywood producers, executives, agents, and slashies alike will be getting shitblasted together throughout Manhattan to celebrate the occasion.  But I’ll be here in LA, writing, plotting, and biding my time.  It will be worth the wait.  And when I do make it, I’ll have my people call your people and say, “Fuck me!”