Archives: April 2005
Hollywood Momentum, a website aimed at industry assistants, is so well-maintained and frequently-updated, given what has to be a wispy thread of a revenue stream, that at first I assumed it was some sort of Scientology front. I think I was wrong about this.
This week, the website has a column about the convention known as Assistant Drinks– the ritualized interaction through which low level Hollywood workers form social bonds and (if they are new in town) learn how to assimilate into the culture. It’s presented as a How To guide– How To Network Effectively, How To Make Sure You Don’t Get Too Drunk, etc. But for those of us who are not Hollywood assistants, it’s also an interesting view into the social patterns of a foreign subculture:
You know how it starts: you’ve been on a desk for a few months, there are a couple of phone numbers you start to memorize because you call those offices so many times, you start to become “friends” with the assistant to whom the only words you ever mutter are “I have fill-in-the blank for fill-in-the-blank.” You don’t even really talk, unless it takes a minute for your bosses to connect, and then you ask a standard question like “how was your weekend” and get a standard response like “it was great.”… One day that voice says “let’s get drinks.”
That one paragraph says so much about alienation from labor, petit-bourgeois worker solidarity, and the commodification of pleasure in post-industrial society that I want to go to grad school and write a dissertation on it.
The disagreement about dues-sharing between the Writers’ Guilds West and East has moved a step closer to a courtroom. On Monday, the WGAe submitted a complaint to a U.S. District Court judge stating that it was not obligated to arbitrate its differences with the WGAw despite the arbitration proviso in the Constitution that binds (sort of) the two Guilds together.
The WGAw maintains that the differences between the guilds should be resolved via arbitration. A summit is scheduled in New York for mid-June, but in an email to WGAw members yesterday, President Daniel Petrie Jr. stated that the guild is not optimistic that anything will be resolved.
In an email to his friends and family (and LAObserved, which posted it), fired LAT reporter Eric Slater tells his side of the story:
On Monday, April 17, following a brief investigation, LA Times Managing Editor Dean Baquet told me that either I could resign or I would be fired. Because I could not reach my attorney at 8:30 a.m., I agreed to resign. I told Dean that I would meet with my counsel and draft a letter of resignation that I would file as soon as possible. Everyone agreed that was the way to proceed.
A few hours later, a reporter for another paper phoned me to ask for a comment on my resignation. The Times, this journalist said, was reporting that I had resigned. She was right. Before I was given time to write my letter of resignation, the LA Times was reporting to other journalists (and Dean confirmed this personally to me) that I had indeed resigned.
Following weeks of odd inquiries, thinly veiled threats about the impending ruin of my career, inappropriate questions about my health and personal life, I asked my attorney if I could retract my resignation. He encouraged me to do just that.
I did. The Times fired me.
Slater goes on to state that in the “near future” he will release exonerating materials from his time in Chico “including original notes, AmEx and other receipts, as well as a dozen or so versions of the story as it was written, edited and rewritten.” However, he claims to have no plans to sue the LAT, and instead wants to clear his reputation so he can get another job.
Vanity Fair, the annual Academy Awards party that also publishes a glossy monthly brochure, has posted to its website a weird music video comprised of clips from the 2005 party strung together over a song by a band that sounds suspiciously like the guys who played at my Bar Mitzvah.
Meanwhile the May issue is full of Oscar-party residue. My favorite trace element is the photo of and item about the assistants who helped plan the party in the Contributors section on page 58 (I don’t have a scanner, so you’ll have to find an excuse to visit the bathroom of a subscriber to see the photo, wherein the assistants look like they’re being huddled together by out-of-frame cattle prods on either side of them):
… [T]he team could not function without the leadership of Sara Marks, director of special projects. “You couldn’t work for just anyone,” says Jane Hill, a seven-year veteran of the Oscar-party team. “Sara treats us with such affection and respect. We adore her.”
Yay, Sara! And, of course, elsewhere in the issue, Dominick Dunne weighs in on the party:
It sounds braggy to keep saying it year after year, but Vanity Fair‘s Oscar party remains the No. 1 stelar event on Hollywood’s night of nights… [I]t is the dream-party come trye, an olio of the famous, the rich and the beautiful, intermingling and enjoying one another.
For the record, Dunne thought the Academy Awards ceremony itself was kind of boring and dreary this year.
Vanity Fair article I’d like to read: Dominick Dunne Visits Burning Man.
Will resume around noon.
Rumors are already abounding about various notables asking various less-notables to “help research” their blog posts. I’m sure Huffington’s friends are good for a post or two, but here are some guesses about how the ghost blogging will eventually shake out.
Gwyneth Paltrow -> Dany Levy
Larry David -> Brady Westwater
John Cusack -> Steve Pink
Warren Beatty -> Aaron Sorkin
Aaron Sorkin -> Aaron Sorkin
Anyone who’s heard anything specific about Huffington Post ghost-blogging offers is strongly encouraged to use the Anonymous Tips box.
From a reader in New York:
…I’ve noticed that you generally include photos of the journos/media figures you cover, with one glaring exception: Nikki Finke, who you never show. Why does, say, an unknown like Tiffany whoever (what’s up with her, btw?) get a giant photo while Finke, who prob. has the biggest national profile of anyone you write about get nothing? Just wondering.
There’s actually a good answer: there aren’t any photos (or, at least, recent photos) of Finke around, because she doesn’t like to be photographed. From R.J. Smith’s Los Angeles Magazine profile of Finke (my bolding):
When I first called L.A. Weekly Hollywood columnist Nikki Finke to say that I wanted to profile her, she instantly asked what took me so long, and then declared almost as instantly that nobody would want to read about her. Why, she proposed, wasn’t I writing about the right-wing takeover of the Los Angeles Press Club, for God’s sake? Then, after a lengthy negotiation-which culminated in a request that she not be photographed-she hit the antigravity button.
Nonetheless, I agree with my anonymous New York reader that it’s remiss never to show an image of one of the Los Angeles media world’s natural wonders. So, I’m inviting FishbowlLA readers to send me their depictions of Nikki Finke for use on the site. Never seen her? Just use your imagination. Sample entry above.
A few rules:
1) Nothing dirty. I get enough obscene email already.
2) Don’t feel bound to a figurative aesthetic paradigm. Think broadly. What does Nikki Finke mean to you?
3) If you don’t want your name used with your entry, let me know.
4) Yes, Nikki, you are eligible to enter.
Thanks in advance to all.
Estrich also gets schadenfreude-y over the paper’s loss of GM advertising and accuses the LA Times of running a “hatchet job” on her, by which she presumably means this piece. ($ required.)
Link via LAObserved.
- Volunteer LAT Review of Books ombudsman Mark Sarvas ventures down his own personal Congo, which is to say, the Friday night awards ceremony and after-party, and encounters his own personal Mr. Kurtz, which is to say, LATRB editor Steve Wasserman:
As we headed out to call it an early night (we have a 7a.m. bike ride ahead of us), we were stopped short by the apparition of The Man in the White Suit. We couldn’t resist, and we marched right up and introduced ourselves to Steve Wasserman. He was extraordinarily genial, said he admired our “passion” and that he hoped we’d find more to be enthusiastic about in the Book Review … We told him we planned to attend his panel on Sunday (to give him a fair shot at barring us at the door) but he seemed pleased at the notion … We admit we were slightly disappointed to not even perceive a narrowing of the eyes, a slight hand movement toward his holster …
- Defamer spots Scientologists.
- James Wolcott gets into a staring contest with Mickey Kaus in the green room.
- Tod Goldberg is the only person who actually sounds like he had much fun at the Festival.
- Panels? Oh, yeah. Panels. Laist reports on a few, including the Rachel Resnick/Jerry Stahl cool-fest.