Even at the fanciest L.A. eatery, overall hospitality leans toward the surly, since there is no waitress, bartender, busboy, hostess or cocktail server here in town without a higher calling. Be it Aspiring Soap Star, Emerging Rock Star or Former High Class Hooker with a few too many miles of road on her tires, this individual’s attitude toward serving you ranges somewhere between mildly annoyed and downright confrontational. There’s a Hamburger Hamlet up on Sunset and Doheny, for example, where the exasperated greeter wants anyone sniffing after a greasy red vinyl banquette to understand she was once married to Miles Davis—proof positive, in my view, that you really can’t pay too much for a decent divorce lawyer. Ask this sort of gal to give you the soup of the day and you risk wearing a nice hot cup of it home.
It occurs to me that for those who aren’t intimately familiar with the Hollywood superstructure, there’s a great likelihood of not being exactly sure who it is you’re talking to during a given interaction here. One out-of-town reader recently commented that when I throw around a bit of industry jargon such as “Showrunner,” she has no idea what I mean. A newly arrived East Coast Transplant shares that he sat through an entire meeting with one before learning she was the series creator and executive producer—who'd sat holding his fate in her hands all along. When I refer to “The Famous Scary Superagent,” “The Young Hungry Producer Pal,” or everyone’s favorite, “The Smug Overpaid Sitcom Weenie,” I’m confident that at least some of you will not only appreciate the archetype, but might also deduce the individual’s precise identity.
For the rest of my worldwide fan base I’ve prepared a cheat sheet you’ll want to keep with you in order to negotiate your future dealings with the highly complex, at once self-loathing, self-entitled and self-involved aliens who’ve chosen to people La-La Land.
THE HANDY DANDY POCKET GUIDE
TO WHO'S REALLY WHO IN HOLLYWOOD
Screenwriter. Should you ever come across a Parking Valet, Security Guard or Nightblub Bouncer claiming to have written a screenplay "people are saying really good things about," try not to laugh too hard. Just look straight ahead as though he were the homeless guy outside 7-11 begging for beer or candy. Either that or go on and (have your assistant) read the thing. It will probably suck, but then the bigger a stinking pile of crap it is, the better its chances of becoming a box office smash starring Vin Diesel.
Producer. This is the Fast-Talking Slickster with no discernable talent of his own who offers to read the homeless guy's smudged, tattered pages standing right there in front of 7-11. But only after negotiating ancillary rights, a lifetime management contract and a co-writer credit in exchange for his time and a pack of Camels.
Director. Make sure anyone claiming to be a director isn't referring to direction of the Saturday afternoon traffic choking the Beverly Center. Also known as "helmers," "lensers" and "substitute grammar school teachers," most won't get beyond the utterly humorless, vaguely unsettling, fifty-thousand dollar short they made in film school after convincing their bereft parents to sell off those pesky cars that were cluttering the garage anyway. Should this individual be a woman, you'll know right off she's a lying sack of inferior hormones.
Development Executive. Truthfully, I have no idea what these folks do all day. I'd say ruin scripts and serve bottle water, but they have Unpaid Interns, also known as Wharton M.B.A.s, to perform these services along with the sexual favors. "Developing" a screenplay for which you've just forked over one point eight mil at auction may only mean ensuring it's inconsequential enough to compel your average eleven-year-old Ritalin junkie to sit through it long enough to bootleg a copy destined for Southeast Asia.
Agent. Again, not clear on this one, but it seems to have something to do with lunch, Mr. Chow's, a telephone headset, colorful lies, rumors, threats and innuendo. Oh, and poaching artists from other agencies while refusing to represent the unrepresented ones who don't technically exist to begin with. Think David Spade on those increasingly grating "no" commercials.
Manager. See above. Only it's easier for them to steal your material and teach you to like it since they have more free time and no pesky state license to hold them back.
Entertainment Lawyer. The cream of the representation team, forced into some vague ethical code of conduct under the welcome threat of disbarment.
Movie Star. Their personal tastes dictate what gets made, so it's unfortunate that most never conquered middle school since they hated the old lady and only hate her more now. You'll spot the dirtiest, hungriest and most unkempt of the A-List not outside 7-11, but at The Ivy, where BenJen I pretended to eat food then pretended to break up, and Lindsay Lohan likes to have all her good car accidents. Remember, these are the last seven smokers in California. The men are short and secretly balding while the girls have bad skin—the truth behind why they're always beating those fat, sweaty foreigners called "Photographers."