My first pilot season.

PILOT SEASON! It runs from about, well, now until April-ish. Actors love pilot season. They thrive on the possibility that they’ll book a pilot and become rich and famous and have awesome lives with 10-car garages and bottle service everywhere ever.

I can't hear you over my piles of money.

Me, as a lowly talent agency assistant, I’m scared. I’m scared of the insane tsunami of work and phone calls and 10- to 12-hour workdays cresting over me. A co-worker tells me about the time my predecessor was working until 9:30 at night. My agent tells me she worked on EIGHTY-FIVE PILOTS last year. You say “pilot season,” I hear “apocalypse season.” Sort of a po-tay-to/po-tah-to situation going on here.

To boil it down to basic terms: we are trying to get our clients cast in new shows. It’s just really, really hard to do. Here’s a slice of pilot season reality from Ken Levine, an Emmy-winning writer/director/producer.

Anyway… luckily, I have an awesome team in place. I work with two agents and one other assistant and we have a magical time together. When a client books a job, we all gather around the phone, put it on speaker, and yell, “You booked it! YAYYYYYYY!” while clapping and cheering. It is weird how perfectly matched the four of us are.

So, pilot season. Let’s see what happens…

Posted in creepers, I'm a businessperson, jobs, living in L.A., pilot season, too much television for you | 1 Comment

Life in L.A.: the Golden Globes edition.

GLAMOROUS.

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Sometimes I am fancy.

I work at a talent agency, where I make about one dollar an hour, just enough to cover about zero percent of my living expenses. [Disclaimer: agency pay L.A.-wide is typically low and all assistants know that going in - just want to say this so I don't get in trouble.] However, this is HOLLYWOOD (imagine sparkly lights with that sentiment) where there is always something cool going on and so sometimes I get to pretend I am a fancy lady.

I had a particularly BEST NIGHT OF MY LIFE the other week:

We have clients in Bring It On: The Musical and a kindly agent sent an email to all the assistants saying she had extra tickets for opening night. 1) MUSICALS! I love them; 2) FREE! I love this even more; 3) Possibility of a Kirsten Dunst cameo?; 4) I could do a step team routine in the aisle if the spirit moved me and it would be totally acceptable.

Surely I could lead my fellow musical-lovers in a step routine. We'd be all urban and gritty and underdog-y and then unexpectedly win a national championship.

Clearly this combination of factors was golden. I had to go. Luckily I am ruthless when it comes to getting what I want BY ANY MEANS POSSIBLE, so I broke out my lightning fingers and email-replied about two seconds later. DIBS.

That night, it was musical time at the Ahmanson Theater downtown! SPIRIT FINGERS! Surprisingly, it nothing to do with the movie. And then… DOUBLE SURPRISE: because it was opening night and we were VIPs, there was a celebrity- and food-laden after-party across the plaza.

And then after the party, it's the after-party.

The other assistants and I fell upon the rich food as if we’d never eaten before, which is partially true since our diets are mostly made up of spaghetti on sale at Target and a pack of 60-cent Ramen Noodles to wash it down.

But… there was nowhere to sit. All the tables were taken up by  Important Hollywood People, including that kid on “Glee” who plays the gay-bullying bully who turns to be gay himself. Twist! We went outside to the balcony to sit on the floor. No one else was out there… EXCEPT STANLEY FROM “THE OFFICE” AND HIS WIFE. WHAT. I desperately wanted him to pull out a crossword puzzle, but it wasn’t to be. His wife offered us her chair when they were leaving and we were all like, “No, thank you. TEEHEEHEE OMG STANLEY!” Since we were only a foot away from them, I couldn’t take a secret cell phone picture.

But then we went inside AND LOOK WHO WAS THERE.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, AKA Mitchell from "Modern Family"!

I know. I am a creeper with my creepy cell phone pictures. He was standing mere feet from us for about 10 minutes. Of course, the second I decide in my head that I would go up to him and tell him how much I loved the show, he walked away, but you know, the creepy cell phone picture is good enough for me.

We also saw this guy on the right from “Mad Men,” who is obviously so famous and important that I can’t remember his name:

After that, the assistants danced on the dance floor with the rest of the cast, who promptly showed us up with their “training” and “professional dance moves.” But you know what? Side-to-side foot-tapping is underrated, so maybe we were just as talented as they were.

The night was incredible. Sometimes… I am fancy.

Posted in celebrities, cheap cool stuff, food food food, jobs | Leave a comment

Oh, Steve Jobs.

So I was at work (most of my stories start this way. I’m at work a lot) and in between submitting kids for roles and sending out auditions, I clicked on over to Deadline Hollywood, which is where we Hollywood folk get our industry news.

The top headline: Steve Jobs had died. It’s only been a few hours since the world found out and I know it’s already old news, but it stunned and saddened me. I’m just a casual Apple user: I have a MacBook Pro and a craptastic iPod which is slowly pixelating its way to unreadability, but I respect the turtlenecked innovative genius of Jobs.

Our family’s first computer circa 1989 was an Apple IIGS. Oh, yes. The tutorial that showed you how a “mouse” worked and what a “cursor” was. Floppy disks with games on them. The tiny hard disks you graduated to once you were old enough to write papers and needed somewhere to save them. Computer paper that was perforated and connected (none of this “single paper” technology) and perfect for making awesome banners, gathered you knew a great number of people who either needed welcoming home or birthday wishes.

JOYSTICKS.

Thanks, Steve Jobs.

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I am a TV plot psychic.

Here in L.A., we don’t have seasons (except pilot season, when the whole town’s abuzz getting new shows written, cast, and on the air), so we cannot celebrate my favorite season, fall. Instead, we celebrate the arrival of new television shows. Happy New T.V., everyone!

So picture me on my futon settling in to watch NBC’s new lineup on my DVR. Oh, shit. Whitney. Fast-forward through this mess. She claims to have just turned 29 last month(!). Good effort, Whitney, but you’re not fooling anyone.

Good effort.

We land on Community. Quality! I wrote a Community spec script a couple months ago. This latest episode is about an Asian version of Annie, someone who’s just as driven and crazy as our regular Annie is.

The two Annies

Here’s the thing: I knew that was going to happen! I knew about Asian Annie a couple weeks ago because of my job. I work at a talent agency and when our clients get auditions for shows like Community, we provide them with “sides,” or portions of the TV/feature script given to us by casting. We sent a girl in for the Asian Annie role, so, voila – TV PLOT PSYCHIC. KIND OF.

All right… I’m off to spend this beautiful pilot day outside!

Technically pilot season isn't until January, but we'll leave it be for the sake of the joke.

Posted in celebrities, too much television for you | 2 Comments

The L.A. weekend

YOU GUYS. Seriously, everyone needs to move here so they can have the most spectacular weekends ever. I am totally falling into the stereotypical L.A. entertainment industry-focused weekend and I am LOVING IT.

Friday: Okay, I am lamesauce and am pretty sure I was doing laundry or something. PRETEND FRIDAY DIDN’T HAPPEN.

Saturday: Saturday morning cleaning. OKAY, PRETEND SATURDAY MORNING DIDN’T HAPPEN. I redeemed myself at POWER LUNCH (aka a half portion of salad and a vat of coffee) with a pal near the Beverly Center at Kings Road Cafe, where we talked shop and “making it” in L.A. We discussed how we’re extremely close to becoming multimillionaires. Sort of.

One half gallon of coffee, coming right up.

Then I did laundry again. NO! I’M KIDDING! I had to rest up because that evening I went to the summer screening series at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Everyone brought food and wine and picnic blankets and enjoyed a vintage Steve Martin in The Jerk. In fact, I wrote a fab post about the very same thing I did last summer (Let’s watch Nicolas Cage movies in a graveyard!) so please read away and enjoy the hilarious ramblings of an L.A. newcomer.

SUNDAY: Went to my writers group! Oh, yes, I have a writers group. SO L.A. WEEKEND. Don’t be jealous. We met up at a coffee shop in the Fairfax district called Coffee Commissary which is delightfully stark-slash-I was totally being sarcastic right there since I really like my coffee shops cozy and not looking like they came out of Mission Impossible with all that brushed steel. (Ugh, I hate myself for alluding to a Tom Cruise movie. He’s so weird these days.)

So, A) I was already being a cool screenwriter by meeting up with my writer friends and B) then we saw SETH ROGEN there! My mom of course did not know who he was when I told her, so I sent her a link to his IMDB page so she could recognize his picture.

Here is her verbatim e-mail response:

“I saw him in Green Hornet. He was terrible.”

Oh, Mom. That night, more entertainment shenanigans ensued! My friend Michelle is a member of SAG (Screen Actors Guild) and she invited me to a special SAG screening of Rise of the Planet of the Apes on the Fox lot! Oh yeahhhhhh! I love, love, love going on studio lots. They’re fun reminders of what I came out here to do. It’s so easy to get lost in movie magic when you’re on a lot. The movie magic continued in the Zanuck Theater when I saw a display of old Oscars (behind glass, otherwise I would be writing this with a new Oscar paperweight next to me on my desk). Actually, I think I would casually put it out on the coffee table and then casually draw attention to it EVERY TIME SOMEONE CAME TO MY APARTMENT.

I'll take the one on the right and also the one on the left.

In all seriousness, I have been to industry screenings before and one thing gets me every time: When the movie’s over and the credits roll, they don’t turn on the lights. And everyone stays put until the very last name has scrolled up the screen. It’s a sign of respect to others in the industry and YEAH, I get a little choked up since I’m now part of it, too.

Oh… L.A.

Posted in catching a break, celebrities, i need more sleep, i wanna be a writer, living in L.A. | 2 Comments

A heartwarming story told by memory, or The Legend of Basketball Joe

We are going to play a fun game called Something I Read And Really Liked In the Sunday Times But Can’t Provide the Details On Because I Already Recycled The Paper, or A Heartwarming Story Told By Memory.

So. You guys. I just read a story that made me melt all over my Sunday pancakes. It is about a kid in L.A… I think it was Compton. He might have been an East Compton Clover.

He was definitely a basketball player. Let’s call him Basketball Joe.

Then… there was a… company? And they wanted to enhance the image of Compton schoolkids, so they sponsored a free-throw tournament open to any student with a 3.0 GPA or above and the WINNER would get $40,000 for college!! HERE IS THE THING. Nerds are not always athletes. Sometimes they are hardly ever athletes. Sometimes they are only good at orchestra or theater, but that’s okay because everyone has their talents and sometimes sports is not included on that list. Essentially, this was a Nerd-Off, with college scholarship money in the mix, so everyone was like

I WANT IT

and

MAYBE MY VIOLIN-PLAYING SKILLS WILL HELP MY HAND-EYE COORDINATION BUT PROBABLY NOT

and Basketball Joe was like, “Guess what, me too, because GUESS WHAT, MY GPA IS OVER 3.0.” And the company was like, “He’s already a basketball player, so that’s kind of unfair, but he qualifies, so let’s let him play.”

Then came the free-throw tournament. EVERYONE WAS ON THE EDGE OF THEIR SEATS! Which nerd would prevail?!?! College dreams and hoop dreams colliding! It was all very exciting. The first seven nerds and their dreams did their very best, which was probably like….. they threw the ball and it didn’t hit anyone.

BUT THEN. BASKETBALL JOE steps up to the plate! I mean free throw line! AND. HE DID IT. HE. SUNK IT. AND. HE WON IT.

And all the nerds were like, “We hate you, Basketball Joe!”

But then something very mysterious and moving happened. Basketball Joe already had a full-ride athletic scholarship to college, but he could have taken the money anyway. AND HE WAS LIKE… “You guys. You seven nerds. You have good hearts, so guess what. I am going to SPLIT this $40,000 among all of you.”

And just like that! Dreams started coming true for the Compton nerds! Some of them would be the first in their family to attend college.

I'm the only one who knows how to handle a basketball. Don't forget it, nerds.

IT WAS SO. GODDAMN HEARTWARMING.

Thank you, Basketball Joe. And thank you, L.A. Times for telling me this awesome, awesome story.

Posted in contestant fail | 3 Comments

You didn’t need hopes and goals anyway

That hiatus lasted longer than planned, oops. Here is a fun story to make up for it:

I started temping at a talent agency yesterday. Today, I had the heart-stoppingest worst task EVER. Let’s pretend you are me for a second. “You have an assignment,” says your supervisor nonchalantly. “Go to Assistant X and he’ll tell you what to do.”

“Okay!” you say brightly, wanting to be the Best Temp Ever, and head over to Assistant X.

Assistant X’s face is an impressively complicated mixture of boredom, annoyance, and general world-weariness that comes from God knows where. Clearly, you will not have much to chat about.

He indicates an impossibly high stack of headshots and cover letters sent by poor souls begging for the agency to represent them as commercial actors.

“We’re passing on all of these,” says Assistant X. “As a courtesy, we like to call them back and let them know.” He looks at you pointedly and shoves the headshots into your arms.

Can you guys read into this? I took the headshots back to my desk, picked up the phone, and had to call a hundred people telling them we’ve just rejected them.

Dogs wouldn't feel bad if you rejected their headshots. I wish there were more dog headshots.

I worked off a script. It mostly went like this: “HI, this is Best Temp Ever at Agency X. We’ve reviewed your submission…”

At this point, I imagined the actor holding his or her breath. Good news?! It has to be good news since Agency X is calling them personally!!

But then I deliver the cutting blow – “Unfortunately, we’re unable to offer you representation at this time” – and with that, I’ve become one more schmuck in Hollywood crushing a dream into little bits and then stomping all over the little bits into tiny, tiny dream dust particles to make sure the dream is totes magotes destroyed. The only thing I could do was make my voice all sympathetic, at which I am surprisingly talented. YOU’RE WELCOME, ACTORS!

Posted in help meeeeeeeee!, i'd like a job please, temp hell | 3 Comments

L.A. and other natural disasters

I moved to L.A. in June 2010. I experienced my first earthquake in June 2010. Welcome to California!

I was watching T.V. in my Hollywood sublet when suddenly the couch beneath me began to sway. Having come from the East Coast where we have tornado drills, not earthquake drills, I sat helplessly while the mirror on the wall rattled.

“Is this an… earthquake?” I thought, rapidly followed by, “Why the hell did I move here?” and “This was a terrible idea.”

Do I duck and cover? Stop, drop, and roll? Get in a doorway? I desperately wished for a tornado instead, because at least I knew to tuck myself into a ball on the floor and protect my neck.

At a loss, I simply sat there ’til it was over 10 seconds later (note: this is not an effective way to deal with earthquakes). After that, did I educate myself about what to do next time and stock up on the appropriate emergency supplies?

earthquake supplies los angeles

I did not. I went about my daily business for almost a year, attending improv shows, meeting people, temping, writing, groveling for jobs, etc.

The recent earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan got me thinking. 1) I know we have earthquakes in L.A., and 2) it doesn’t hurt to be prepared (or at least know “stop, drop, and roll” is NOT an appropriate response).

I dubbed this past weekend my first annual EARTHQUAKE PREPAREDNESS EXTRAVAGANZA, taking me to such far-flung magical destinations like

The weird emergency supply shop on Santa Monica!

earthquake supplies los angelesand

Target!

earthquake supplies los angelesand

Home Depot!

earthquake supplies los angeles

Everything in my room is glass, so yeah, I bought some.

My stash now includes: a two-week supply of non-perishable food and water, sleeping bag, plastic tarp, electric lantern, flashlights, tools (duct tape, gardening gloves in case of broken glass), and loads of First Aid supplies.

I even read up on earthquake preparedness:

For the record, the proper procedure for earthquakes is… wait for it…

STOP, DROP, AND HOLD ON!

You are now prepared for your first earthquake. Good luck!


Posted in earthquakes, help meeeeeeeee!, i'm good at researching and other life skills, is this such a great idea?, living in L.A. | 2 Comments

Last Trolley to Tinseltown

I’ve been waiting, waiting for the perfect time to write this post. Saving it up gleefully. It’s my all-time favorite topic and it is the NERDIEST TOPIC IN THE WORLD.

This is a post about stairs. YEAH, I SAID STAIRS. NO, I’m not going to talk about something else.

Come with me on this journey into our imaginations. Picture a time before the popularity of the Model T. How did people get around? TROLLEYS. AWESOME, AWESOME TROLLEYS.

los angeles trolley

Awesome, awesome trolley. I could do without the creepy conductor, though.

Man, I would so kill for a trolley. Leisurely rolling along to work. Nodding at people while wearing a big hat with a bird on it. Maybe carrying a parasol. Looking up the definition of parasol.

People needed to easily get to the trolley stations. Here’s the problem: there are hills, super-steep ones, especially in Silver Lake/Los Ferlsjeflskdfos.

Ninety-degree angle = not okay to walk down.

How ever would all the dainty women and children navigate their way to the trolleys without running into peril?

perils of pauline los angeles train

No.

They used stairs. Two hundred solid concrete (or whatever they used back then for concrete) staircases, hidden all over Los Angeles, nestled between houses and crawling up hills. The staircases originally led to these Red Car trolley stations.

silver lake stairs los angeles

Later, the stairs made their Hollywood debut in a number of movies including Laurel and Hardy’s THE MUSIC BOX. It’s about two guys trying to move a piano up a steep flight of stairs… I’m sure you can see where this is going.

laurel and hardy music box los angeles stairs

This counted as an original plot back in 1932.

But guess what? Even though we don’t have trolleys anymore (UNFORTUNATELY), the stairs are still there, dotting the hillsides of L.A. Sometimes you’ll stumble across them. Sometimes you’ll walk right past them. Since I love to explore, I always detour up a set of stairs if I find them. When I get to the top, the view usually hasn’t changed much (though I feel like I am subconsciously trying for a “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” effect… what is wrong with me?), sometimes I’ll luck out.

Posted in Googling adds credibility to my posts, i'm good at researching and other life skills, living in L.A., Los Feliz and Silver Lake | 3 Comments