Desperate Co-Eds

Like so many of my Imagined Successes, my Hot New WB Series stars a veritable Vanity Fair cover's worth of Fresh Young Talent. There's Mandy Moore, Alexis Bledel, Hilary Duff, and one or more of the Olsen twins -- half of whom already have WB series they'll have to ditch to join the coveted ranks of my cast. Over-confident, you say? Oh, I have every reason to believe that My Very Supportive Manager will get me a meeting with at least one of them or their mothers Any Day Now.

Never mind that she said my idea was too risque, too "David Lynch" were her exact words, which I frankly took as the nicest thing she's ever said to me. She also said she'd get back to me about it, which wasn't so nice, since she was lying. Sometimes I think she doesn't take me all that seriously, despite the fact that People Are Saying Very Good Things About Me. That and a dime won't buy you a bottle of Fiji in this town, unless you're meeting at Paramount or any of its subsidiaries, where they foist that stuff on you like some kind of consolation prize for not making any of your movies ever, no matter how much re-structuring they do.

Look, I can't be expected to sit on something this hot forever. Now, I'm aware that the last thing an Undiscovered Voice should be doing is yakking to a bunch of strangers trolling personal Internet journals to serve some sick, voyeuristic fetish. However, since my readers are fairly scant in number -- none actually, judging from the comments I'm not having to sift through every night -- I figure I'm pretty safe running the thing by you folks for feedback.

If you're feeling at all shy about offering your opinion on someone's lovingly crafted, emotionally wrought Next Big Tween Vehicle, by all means, do not ever go to film school. There's a lot of things they won't tell you there, but "This Sucks" isn't one of them.

Series Proposal

Student body president ELIZABETH “LIDDY” GALLAGHER returns from summer break to her dorm room—one of four in a quad connected by a bathroom and sitting area—to discover a chalk outline on the floor. As Liddy puts together the circumstances surrounding the death of her quadmate, we learn that Liddy has a big secret of her own -- she used to be so depressed by her own unattractiveness she “accidentally” drove off the side of the cliff just to gain access to some good plastic surgery. Can a former fatty with secrets of her own afford to uncover an ugly truth?

Quad-mate CYNDA QUAGLIANA is the morally bankrupt stepdaughter of a Vegas mob boss who recently cut her off. Instead of getting a job to make tuition, Cynda sets about publishing a “Hot Bods On Campus” calendar. Ultimately shut down after a series of protests from the Department of Women’s Studies, Cynda tries to seduce a basketball star to start throwing games while devising a bookmaking scheme that could net her millions.

Street smart girl-next-door from the hood TAMARA MUĂ‘OZ is a bookish scholarship student, the first in her family to go to college, and she’s desperate to get into medical school. Her long-held secret? She's not quite smart enough to make the grade. Toiling at her work-study job in University Records, she’s seduced by a duplicitous hacker who can guarantee her a perfect transcript, for a price.

Rounding out the foursome is FRANCESCA TUTUWANDA, the model beautiful daughter of the exiled former president of a small African dictatorship. She's become involved with prepster WARD HIXON, heir to a Getty-sized fortune, who begins erecting a Taj Mahal of a campus library in her honor. Unofrtunately, Francesca has been engaged since the age of four—to a boy she’s never met, and is expected to enter into an arranged marriage -- or risk starting a Civil War.

Frequently visiting the quad is CATHY CATES, a scrappy local who runs a dorm room housekeeping business. She’s also a chronic thief and shoplifter with a bad case of Winona Ryder syndrome. Her social fortunes change when Liddy discovers that Cathy may have inadvertently pinched the evidence needed to solve the mysterious dorm room murder.

Narrator of these events, suitably, is yearbook editor NATALIE EDWARDS, a criminology major. She maintains copious files, records, clippings and family trees, and gets what she wants by threatening to reveal all kinds of secrets and lies—and worse yet, to preserve them for the ages in a leather bound volume for all to see.

Who’ll be first to uncover the homicidal secret the university is so desperate to keep? It all seems to revolve around the famed, notorious Nobel-prize winning DEREK TRETHEWAY-—a cash cow on the endowment frontier.

Will the truth come out that Tretheway’s anonymous young muse and lover had been the victim of plagiarism? Could it be that an anorexic adolescent rather than a self-important blowhard was the legitimate recipient of the Nobel Prize in Poetry? With the nation’s coveted Poet Laureate honors up for grabs and the university’s reputation on the line, Tretheway might just have to kill again to keep us all from the truth.

Stay tuned...

Okay, so maybe my casting leaves something to be desired, but you get the picture. Is this not something you'd like to see on TV very soon? Please write your Congressman. Or if, like me, you have no idea who your Congressman is, contact your favorite WB executive or even the dolt who answers the phone and advise him or her to please click here: Julie Goes To Hollywood.

Alias Trump and Jones

Between the time you become a Big Deal Hollywood Screenwriter and the time Anyone Who Matters figures that out, it's never fun to start the day off discovering a guy you could have married in the early nineties grilling shrimp with Star Jones-Reynolds and Melania Trump on The View.

You picture yourself off camera, prompting your Big Deal Cookbook Author Slash Husband to smile bigger while holding up the new book he's lovingly dedicated "To Julie, My Food Muse, My Kitchen Accomplice, My Morning Love Muffin and Midnight Snack Cracker With Cheese."

During a commercial break, you imagine both Star and Melania inviting you to their dueling Hamptons mansions for the weekend, getting a tad bitchy with each other while pitching the assorted guest amenities they'd each offer in exchange for round-the-clock access to your husband's Skewered Ginger Chicken Wings. It turns outs that nobody eats at these things, but you have to keep plenty of meat grilling so The Donald has something to smell, and the servants have something to take home after -- or else they'll steal you blind. It's Star who lays all this out like a former New York City prosecutor who done good but married gay; while Melania stands by dabbing her lips with a greasy basting brush she mistakes for a new brand of lip gloss.

Unfortunately, the aforementioned Frontline Foodie you met in passing at some Miami party never actually asked you out back in the day -- but then you never showed any interest, did you? Short guys with big jobs didn't blow your skirt up at the time, since your youthful ideals promised tall ones with fat inheritances and insatiable fetishes for girls with ever widening asses. You were a Successful Travel Writer yourself, after all, before making the mystifying choice to go to film school so you could become a Failed Screenwriter. Come what may, you had your own stories to tell, you informed your Self-Important Publisher Crowd -- epic stories, destined for screens big and small. Off you took for points West and a Big Hollywood Future brimming with brushes with greatness, culinary and otherwise.

Your Big TV Grillmeister is no longer between marriages, you notice by way of the ring on his finger. Some other girl is buttering the old baguette on the sidelines, mouthing a reminder that Melania won't eat the shrimp sample and Star won't eat at all until she's lost the rest of the weight.

All this on live TV -- somebody else's life, anyway -- while you're still sitting in yesterday's nightie with a pair of flatulent Wiener Dogs licking the scattered crumbs from your morning bagel in bed.

Later today, and maybe again tomorrow if your pocket change holds, you'll settle for The Weasely Guy In A Turban behind the counter at 7-11 slipping you the eye while he tops off your Slurpee, no extra charge.

Humility bites here in Hollywood, and most days you're in for a nice big one. Just one more thing they won't ever tell you in film school.

The Fiscally Sound Older Sister

One thing they never tell you in film school -- and to be fair, how could they know for sure -- is how long it'll be until your Very Encouraging Loved Ones withdraw their fiscal support. It's a slow burn, in my experience, with the sting of a misguided Legal Secretary Job Referral here or the slap of a Temp Service Classified Ad there. Around the first of the month, when the rent's due, it's time to lay the whole ugly mess on the table and gut your failed life plan like a fish. You're usually too mired in one of the Five Stages Of Grief -- I like denial, though depression also works -- to get much out of it other than a free seafood dinner.

My sister sends me an e-mail today about Amy Sedaris's Smokey Cheese Ball business, implying that every creative type has to find a viable means of support that doesn't involve my sister. This is how Amy makes it between gigs, she claims, mixing the cheese balls by hand in her apartment.

I read on her fansite that Amy Sedaris has a feature film in post-production based on her sitcom Strangers With Candy -- and I can't picture her running home from the set to grate walnuts. I am a Formerly Successful Ex-Reporter, after all, so I poke around on the Internet and learn that Amy does in fact sell cheese balls, as well as cupcakes, during intermission at her plays. She even wrote one about an Amish woman who supports an entire community by way of the family cheese ball business. Amy herself is only in it for the fun, for something to talk about on Letterman -- except during the holidays, when she tosses a few to the fans in a New York shop called the Gourmet Garage.

Sharing this with my sister would only prove that I'm avoiding finding something, anything, to do with my own talents. She recently read, for example, that David Sedaris, Amy's brother, spent many years working for a maid service in New York, and that he enjoyed it very much. Her tone implies that doing a lot of vacuuming is the one true path to becoming the nation's top satirist, and I'm a fool not to give it a whirl. "You could start your own service," she says. "You wouldn't have to work for Merry Maids."

None of this seems likely, since I haven't cleaned my own house in weeks, and I just caught my wiener dog Oscar snacking on something he's found inside a dust bunny. The cupcake and cheese ball thing wouldn't work, either, since A) it's been done to death, and B) my wiener dog Vienna becomes terrified when I so much as turn on the oven -- some weird, Pavlovian response to the smoke alarm.

Besides, Nancy Grace is coming on and I really need to concentrate on my inexplicable fascination with the Natalee Holloway drama. Try as I may, I can't think of a better name for a CourtTV villain than Joran Van Der Sloot. The best part is how the pundits can't seem to get the pronunciation quite right; I'm hearing everything from "Joe Ran," to "Yo, Ron!," to my personal favorite, the unapologetic "Urine," courtesy of Natalee's dead calm mother.

I don't review the matter with my sister, since she has a job and all, and I don't want to explain how this and the Missing Cruise Ship Groom are about all I've got today. The real truth is, My Very Supportive Manager hasn't returned my calls in a week, and I like to think she's having some horrible personal crisis -- an untimely death in the family, say, a missing teen of her own or a mysterious boating accident off the coast of Turkey -- than entertain the idea that she can't really help me right now herself.

The good news is my sister sent along the cheese ball recipe in an e-mail entitled "Told You." She always does, bless her heart.

Amy Sedaris's Li'l Smokey Cheese Balls
Yield: 10 servings

2 cups shredded smoked Gouda or smoked Cheddar
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 or 3 teaspoons milk
2 tablespoons A-1 steak sauce
About 1/2 cup crushed walnuts
Buttery crackers (such as Ritz)

Let ingredients come to room temperature. Blend together cheeses, butter, milk and steak sauce. Refrigerate until firm, then shape into a ball. Roll in crushed walnuts. Return to refrigerator. To serve, bring to room temperature; serve with crackers.

PER SERVING: 378 calories; 36g fat (86 percent calories from fat); 21g saturated fat; 98mg cholesterol; 10.5g protein; 3g carbohydrate; 1g sugar; 0.5g fiber; 332mg sodium; 209mg calcium; 107mg potassium.


One of the major things they won't tell you about in film school is the Casual Call from your Deeply Concerned Mother, during which time she tries very hard to pretend she is no such thing.

Mine calls from Umatilla today, and I tell her about my Big New Plan to sell some of my things at the Fairfax Flea Market to make ends meet. "I had a housekeeper who used to do that," she says. "She bought a hundred dozen socks and sold them off pair by pair." An L.A. flea market is not a place where insects do their marketing, I inform her. It's where same sex couples squander the blood money they make at the studios on sixteen-hundred-dollar mid-century Danish tables. And I just happened to find one of those in my sister's garage.

Oh, she says.

Have you seen her garage? I demand to know. She should be paying me to clear it out. She is, of course, by donating all the proceeds -- which my mother judiciously avoids pointing out. She can come at you like a little quarterback during these exchanges, her agenda tucked under her arm like a football she could choose to pass, run or drop kick into your in-field at any time.

"I don't understand why you aren't doing any temping," she tosses in. I inform her the only temp job I've been offered of late is waving a foam finger in front of Quiznos. Temping in L.A. isn't plentiful and uncomplicated like it is in the rest of the free world. It's a town full of temps, I tell her for the umpteenth time. "Well, you can always come live here," she replies, casually spiking the ball. "Since you're emptying out your house anyway."


I'm not sure why she's succeeded in pissing me off, pointing out the safety net I should be grateful to have stretched just above the circus that is my life. She gets back on the thing about the socks and the housekeeper and how the flea market didn't work out and she had to go back home to her family to escape her abusive boyfriend.

I'm left with no choice but to tune her out, since Nancy Grace is coming on and they're draining some Aruban pond where they think they might find Natalee Holloway's body. I don't tell my mother about my obsession with the feisty former proscutor or the missing Alabama teen, since she'd only ask why I refuse to put on a little lipstick from time to time and take a nice walk.

Draining the damn pond, hello. Talk about a day late and a dollar short, dumbass Dutch weenies. The story's really about the mother, I think, about how she'll kill and die herself before she goes home without her girl. They never saw Natalee's mom coming, all those Van Der Yahoos.

My own mother knows without having to ask how many times that could have been me, getting into the wrong car with the wrong guy in the wrong town. I look at the senior picture they used on her "Missing" poster and picture my own from a hundred years ago beside it. Sure it could have been me, I want to tell my mom. But it was't. I'm not missing, I'm right here. I've made it through film school, and through my sister's garage; I've landed a Very Supportive Manager and made a Brand New Up and Coming Producer Friend; I've written a screenplay They're Saying Very Good Things About, and I'm trying to write another -- and whatever happens next, that's not nothing.

But then, I'm not a mother myself and the likelihood of my ever becoming one runs about even odds with my taking the foam finger job at Quiznos. I don't know what it's like to love as fiercely as a mother, only to be loved that way, and that's certainly not nothing, either.

I hit the mute button on Nancy Grace and tune my mom back in. Unfortunately, she's still talking about the misguided housekeeper and all those ridiculous socks. Tennis, tube, men's -- she never did manage to unload them all.


When I was four years old, I ran off the end of a dock at my family's summer cottage in Upstate New York and fell into the lake. I remember looking up and seeing the shock on my sister's face dissolve to guilt as she accepted the ugly predicament as somehow being her fault. Mary Beth was only six years old herself, but that's the kind of kid she was, a stern little general in a pair of droopy knee socks. Though my refusal to flail and spout and fight for my life eventually became family lore -- early proof of what an odd little girl I was -- I actually liked it down there. It was true peace, my imminent demise, not at all the panicked horror you'd imagine drowning to be. Before I knew it my sister had run into the house and gotten my father, who jumped in, fished me out and warmed me up with my first ever shot of whiskey.

Last night my sister drove up from San Diego to save me again. She didn't like the way I sounded on the phone, she explained to her husband, leaving behind the dog, house, job and brand new pool with an infinity edge overlooking the canyon. She arrived here after midnight, armed with a box of Krispy Kremes and a doll from one of those ridiculous Hallmark kind of shops for people with sizeable balances available on their credit cards. It's a "You Can Do It Wish Doll," wearing a "Hang In There!" dog tag and a bracelet with "Go Girl" and star-shaped charms dangling from it. "Her name's Aurelia," my sister tells me. "That's how she grabbed me, anyway." I look at Aurelia and wonder how much I can get for her at the Fairfax Flea Market.

My sister is not happy about my new plan to sell all my stuff to raise some money, neither when I cry about how sad it is letting my treasures go to the highest bidder, nor when I refer to doing so as "my new business" like some kind of aspiring bag lady. She thinks I need a steady source of income, besides, you know, her. Even if it means putting aside my writing for awhile. I silently vow that my sister's "unflinching support" will not be included in my acceptance speech at any future Golden Globes ceremony.

We take a drive to Office Depot and see a "Help Wanted" sign. She tells me to find the manager and get an application. She'll wait, she says. I act like I can't understand a single word she's saying, like she's speaking some strange, Middle Eastern language where they practically choke themselves to death on their R's and H's. Office Depot. I'd rather take a crow bar to my wood floor and sell it off plank by plank for firewood. I'm feeling very Laura Ingalls Wilder, all of a sudden, hardened by circumstance. "You may call me Half-Pint!" I announce. "I have no idea what you're talking about," she snorts. (She totally does and read the crap out of those books under the covers with a flashlight.).

Cutting to the chase, we pick up a desk-sized tub of cheesy poofs and eat it in her car..

We go to some freaky indie at the Arclight, and she shares my sense of personal indignation that the Sundance Filmmaker's Lab turned down my most recent application in favor of some weird chick   with a faux-hawk who brought this turkey into the world. You have to love that about my sister, the way she knows in her heart that the movies I'm not making are far superior to the crap most everybody else has the gall to put out.

I practically knock over the comic actor Jay Mohr on the way out, but he looks right through me.  He's a pretty small guy with a very small chick on his arm, and clearly they don't acknowledge the larger people. We go to dinner at Chan Dara Larchmont where damn if another small person doesn't wait on us. At least she has the excuse of being Thai.

"Tell her I'm fine," I say as Mary Beth deposits me at the foot of my drive. She'll be reporting my overall state of mind back to our mother in Umatilla before she makes it to the corner. I'm actually okay with this. When you're an artist, it's a good thing to have one or two people who are not artists on hand to love you from a reasonably safe distance.

I know my sister will always be here to save me from drowning. I just wish she didn't have to do it so often. I wish she could understand that sometimes I like hanging out beneath the water line. It's cool and quiet, and all you have to do is hold your breath. How long you can make it down there without any hope of surfacing, well, that's just another one of those things they won't tell you in film school.

-- Originally published July 27, 2005

My Little Hollywood Bungalow

"A very big Hollywood screenwriter once lived here!" you can practically hear a passing bus driver informing the tourists onboard. In my case, only that first part would be a lie, as I do in fact rent a sweet little bungalow right here in the heart of the Hollywood dream factory. It's somewhere between Marilyn Monroe and Shelley Winters' famous house on Sweetzer and Charles Bukowski's walk-up near Hollywood Boulevard, so I suppose that's a small claim to fame right there.

My house is one of seven cottages built around a courtyard back in 1929, presumably for studio housing. Today it's rent-controlled, $835 a month, up from $700 when I first moved in nine years ago. I keep waiting for other bits of serendipity to befall me, but the trouble with serendipity is it's just so damn serendipitous. Eight-thirty-five doesn't seem so cheap when you don't have eight-thirty-five. I'm not sure how I've always managed to come up with it, month after month. Financial aid, I guess. Scholarships, prizes, pity gifts from Loved Ones Who Really Believe In My Talent.

I have a new plan. The lady from the Fairfax Flea Market called to let me know there's booth space available on Sunday. So here I am emptying the place out so I can sell it off at the same place where I began collecting it back when I was new in town, when needlepoint pillows and crystal chandeliers seemed as necessary to My Big Hollywood Life as a martini shaker, some really good olives and the latest screenwriting software.
I'm only selling the small things with big price tags. A couple of pieces of Waterford, some Limoges, a wooden box full of eight silver place settings. Do I even know eight people any more? I've got antique linens from somewhere in Yugoslavia, crocheted by my former in-laws and given to me like some kind of consolation prize when I woke up and threw out my ex-husband to come out here and follow my Big Hollywood Dream.

So, yeah, it's not been a great day. Matter of fact it's one of those days when you realize you really did bet the farm coming out here, and that's when you start to cry.

That's enough, crybaby. You slap yourself in the fact a few times, like Annette Bening in American Beauty. You've still got your talent, and your Script They're Saying Good Things About and Your Very Supportive Manager and Your Big Producer Friend Who'll Be Getting Back To You By Friday!

And you've got your little bungalow. So what if it feels a little empty inside? You have to admit there's a certain familiarity to that, and then you have to chuckle. And there's always another flea market, right? Some day soon you'll be back on the buying side. What's that great Jay McInerney line? "I went so quickly from aging failure to young success."

You're feeling somewhat empowered now -- until you consider sticking a pricetag on your grandmother's Wedgwood box. You remember the day she slipped it to you, secretively, so as not to attract the attention of the greedy cousins lurking in the background. You later write your Hilarious Funeral Screenplay based on these events, the one where you lose everything only to realize that all that really matters is the love of your family. You do tack on a fictitious revenge plot where you snatch a moving van and take everything, despite your requisite enlightenment, right in the middle of Grandma's funeral mass.

Maybe that's the real problem with making it your personal responsibility to write Big Hollywood Movies. That rousing, life-affirming, stand-up-and-cheer third act is almost always fictitious. In real life, most everybody's just doing their best to hang on another day. You don't have to be stuck back in Umatilla to live a life of quiet desperation.

Damn, that's just one more thing they never tell you in film school.

My Big Deal Meetings with J. Lo and T. Cru

First, let me say nobody asked me to join Scientology, ride his or her motorcycle, marry him or her, or watch Selena from beginning to end on a very wide plasma screen.

However, most of you who've gotten this far are hoping I'll give you some juicy inside Hollywood dish, and I do hate to disappoint. Does Tom Cruise have a blow-up doll of L. Ron Hubbard in his office? you probably want to know. Not that I could see. Who has the coolest office in Hollywood? J. Lo, hands down. Not only are there candles everywhere, but you also get frozen waffles made in a Dualit toaster no matter what time of day you happen to arrive.

Now, please bear in mind that I have not met with J. Lo nor with T. Cru. Only their "people." Really nice people, I have to add -- though I'm never sure of the point of the whole thing. The way it appears to go is they read your script and go, "Wow! Is this a movie we're not going to make! Never, ever, ever, not if hell freezes over! Not if Scarlett Johanssen gives in and joins Scientology! But, hey, get this writer in here on the double so we can talk about other movies we're not going to make with ber!"

Truthfully, I think what they want is that after you happen, should that ever come to pass, they can say they knew you back when. We're old friend with this one. Discovered her when she was nothing. Oh, what a genius. Genius, I tell you!

How the meeting thing works is your manager gets calls from Very Big People, or, and this is far more likely, The People Who Love Them. Should you try to resist another seemingly pointless rendez vous, she assures you how hot you are and how you better take advantage of all your big hot heat before the word gets out that you only have the one script they don't want to make, and may well be a one-trick pony. She actually uses this phrase, "one-trick pony". You're not sure what exactly your trick is, but suddenly you're feeling a little equine.

You snort briefly, just for effect, then reluctantly take off your nightie (which you've been in for three days watching Court TV while breaking a REALLY GREAT story in your head), have a shower (it's been awhile there, too) and put on your dress. (In my case, I only have one. It's a blue linen wrap-around that spans several sizes. Actually, I bought it in taupe and black as well but they ended up fitting differently. Damn tiny little Chinese laborers, what the hell do they know about plus sizing)?

So you pull up to the gate, which in T. Cru's case is the famous one that says "Paramount" on it in very big gold letters, you know, in case you were wondering if you'd arrived or not. Most of the time the guard won't have your name and will make you pull over to the side -- which is understandable, since you're driving a 1993 Toyota Paseo and they don't get many crap-ass cars up this way. This never happened to me at Paramount, though. Something a little classier about that place over the other lots, what with their mouse ears and Bugs Bunnies running the show. Paramount was once run by Lucille Ball, I'll have you know. Yes, I'm serious. Oh yeah, Lucy had all kinds of shit going down once she woke up and dumped Desi's tired, cheating ass.

But I digress. So you get to the parking lot and have an argument with Someone More Important Than You over the fact that you got the last spot, then tromp across the lot in the heat, which in this case is well worth it because you happen upon one of Paramount's Famous Screamers in the heat of a Famous Scream! Something about how the other guy's a "cocksucker" and deserves a "good nut crushing" while making sure to "shut his piehole." You're oddly titillated watching someone else being treated like crap, but you try not to laugh. Last thing you ever want to do is become one of them for God's sake.

You scram the hell out of there and make your way up to Tom's office where you quickly conclude that no, Tom is not there. Tom is on location. They don't actually film any movies at Paramount, you are told. Too pricey. Movies are filmed in Romania and New Zealand and the money left over goes to Tom. No movies in movieland, you say? Another illusion, shot to hell.

You're told Tom hasn't read your script, but boy he'd sure love it if he had. You're told he's looking for a script that would bring the Brat Pack together as forty-somethings, or else one that absolutely must be shot in Paris, where Tom would like to spend some quality time, and asked if you have either one of those scripts in your "arsenal." You're not sure what an arsenal is in this sense or why you'd keep your scripts there, but you apologize anyway and promise to get right on it.

But you don't get right on it. You don't get right on anything. You go home, unwrap the wraparound dress and get back in bed in time for Judge Judy. The thing about Judy is how she calls it just exactly how she sees it. It's hard to get your illusions broken when you never had any to begin with. I love when she asks people if they're on medication. No, but I sure wish I were, I'd say. The hell with what Tom wants, show me the damn Paxil.

Just another few tidbits they'll never tell you about in film school.

Never Confuse Your Agent with Your Dog

If you plan to be a Big Hollywood Screenwriter, you'll need to keep a couple of dogs around. Unlike everyone else you'll encounter in Hollywood, dogs are always happy to see you coming and inconsolably sad to see you go. Dogs don't lie, kiss and tell, or promise to call after you've taken off an afternoon together. They never view you as needy or pathetic or judge you when you procrastinate. In fact, they prefer you get off the computer very soon so everybody can run around outside and pee on things. They are not judgmental of your work and haven't given you a single ridiculous note, such as "What does your protaganist really want?" (He wants to sleep, chew, eat, fart and crap, what else is there?) Dogs love you unconditionally as opposed to the conditional way that say, your agent loves you. For example, dogs never recommend another client for any gig, never demand new pages, never ask you to get out of bed and off to a Big Deal Meeting when you're trying to focus on picking a side on Judge Judy. Dogs have wet noses. Agents have brown noses. Dogs chew too much. Agents talk too much. Dogs have tails. Agents chase their own tails and call that working very, very hard for you. They really have very little in common at all, agents and dogs, except the way every last one of them can make you believe, however falsely, that you're not in this thing all alone.