How To Make It In The Music Industry
Tiffany Stone (TiffanyAStone-at-AOL.com) writes:
Disclaimer: If you aren't passionate about music, don't waste your time reading this. Go for a different job. It is a challenging to get a job, especially with all those mergers. So if you plan to do this, get your shit together. Read that last line again and let it sink in.
Why am I sharing my secrets? This is so that all the people with desirable/cool jobs out there don't have to answer the question, "How did you get that job"? Note: All of you gainfully employed music folks can feel free to send me CD's and concert tickets in appreciation. Most of these tips can apply to the film industry too, I suppose. But film is much less casual and although there is more money in it, who wants to deal with a tie?
I was also inspired by a recent incident. A few weeks ago, I was having an iced-blended mocha at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Beverly Hills. Next to me was an employee of the Story department of a top film agency. I was checking him out and waiting to catch his eye. "Story guy" was patiently explaining to a tourist what his job entailed. Then it happened. As the tourist's barrage of questions seemed to be never ending, my annoyance melted into respect. My heart swelled with admiration and I got the idea for this piece.
See, I am a good person, too. Don't say I never did anything for you. What I really want to do is to give all of you average people the hope and confidence to get that dream job. Forget about winning a music internship on MTV or winning the lottery so you can be best buddies with rock stars. Like rock stars and actors, you won't become famous overnight. Getting the job you want requires tenacity and boldness. I've gotten almost every kind of job that I have wanted. I didn't know people or have a family member working at any of the companies, either. But I was passionate about what I was going after. Good luck, I wish you all success.
First, don't whine to any of your friends about how you would love to work in music, but that it is impossible to get a job. Your friends won't be sympathetic and likely will not care to hear about your job at all until you give them free CD's. Don't sweat it. By then, you will have a new set of cooler friends.
So you really, really want a job in the music industry because you have been obsessed with music your entire life, right? Yes, there are people who have gone far in the industry (you know who you are) and only pretend to really care about the music. Most spend their time managing their large quantity of drugs. Hear me execs: Being a coke addict is so 80's.
Tip #1- Know Someone. I know, I know. If you knew someone then you would already have a job. If only you were an Osbourne! Sometimes you know someone without even being cognoscente of it. Rack your brain and exploit your resources. Tell everyone you know what job you are interested in. A friend of your aunt's could be promotions assistant.
Tip #2-If You Know No One, Make Friends. If you love music, then you should be going out and seeing it all the time. Become an observer. You will notice that some of the same people pop up at the shows that you are at. People who work in the music industry are out seeing music. Be a social butterfly. Talk to the identified industry people who you see regularly and "regular" people too. Someone you are snubbing might be Clive Davis's assistant. Be nice to everyone. I generally don't follow this rule, but you should. Okay, but you are a little shy and don't know what to talk about. Start with music. Music people like film people talk music… a lot. Your life tends to revolve around your job and after all, you do love music. Okay, so this is a generalization, but the number of linier people in this business is so large that I feel justified. Also, you can nonchalantly ask if said person wants a drink when you are heading to the bar. Buy them drinks all night. Everyone likes free drinks and sometimes you can buy people. Maybe a drink isn't equivalent to a Ferrari, but you'd be surprised. Don't ask too many questions right away, especially how they got their job and if they can you get you one. I am not telling you not to utilize their information, but no one likes an ass-kisser, so be subtle. Your goal is to establish a rapport.
Tip#3- Now That We Know That You Can Make Friends; This Is Who You Should Be Friends With. Try to buddy up with an A&R person or scout. They are the ones who are out finding the next Elvis. They won't necessarily get you a job, but they are the coolest music people to hang out with. And, even better, they can expense drinks! Remember this, if you find a publicist, work it. If you befriend a publicist then you have hit gold. It is the publicists' job to be out all the time and know everyone. They also know about parties and can put you on the list. Just remember not to gossip to them. Failing to follow that last bit of advice will lead you to become the author of the new novelty book, How To Lose Your Music Industry Job in 7 Days.
Tip#4-Eat, Breathe and Sleep Music- Don't get smart. I am not advising shagging hot rock stars. That will not get you a job. And I am not going to suggest sleeping with an executive to get a job. But if you want to go to the Grammy's or backstage at a show, you might consider it. I won't judge you, but it is skanky. You must truly be passionate about music. If you have been obsessed with music ever since you can remember, then you are in good shape. Read books about the music industry. It is important to know the different job titles and what their functions are. When you say you aspire to be a Product Manager and your interviewer asks you what that job entails, you should be able to succinctly describe it.
Tip#5- Work on Your Variety of Knowledge. If you are only listening to Led Zeppelin or Rush (note the date of their last albums) you've got some work to do. Though they are great bands, they are old. Also, I saw Robert Plant sing a song on Leno the other night from his new album and it was scary. I don't want to have that image of Robert Plant in my brain. Music is about everything new. The labels are looking for new talent. They already have the old talent. But you have to come across as well rounded. For example, a good mix of old and new would be mentioning that you saw Bowie and Moby's concert and how amazing it was. When your interviewer asks what six CD's you have in rotation don't list all bands from the 70's. Mix it up. Now I don't mean to not listen to old music, but at least be familiar with the new releases and be able to mention a few. A lot of the classic bands are inherently better than the music out today (Led Zeppelin, for instance), but it helps to have eclectic taste. However, if you want to only work at an electronic or hip hop label then go ahead and be specific. When you finally get that interview your music knowledge will be tested. I know people who have had to make tapes with favorite songs for assistant jobs. Probably only A&R people will make you do this, though.
Tip#6 Always Be Cutting Edge, but Also Have These Albums/Musicians in Your Collection. Okay, this really is a bit subjective and just trying to come up with my own essential list has been driving me crazy. I can't do all the work for you. You can always ask the clerks at record stores or check out the internet. These are the albums that came to me first. Please don't tell me how I left out Frank Sinatra or Jimmy Hendrix. If I were stranded in a bomb shelter I would take the Led Zeppelin Box set. Number II is my favorite.
The rest of the list is in no particular order: 1. Beach Boys- Pet Sounds 2. Pink Floyd- Dark Side of the Moon 3. Prince- Purple Rain 4. Beck- Odelay 5. Pixies-Doolittle 6. PJ Harvey 7. Beatles 8. Santana 9. The Smiths- Hatful of Hollow 10. Nirvana-In Utero 11. Jane's Addiction-Nothings Shocking 12. Public Enemy-Fear of a Black Planet 13. Depeche Mode- Black Celebration 14. Miles Davis- Miles Smiles 15. Bjork- Homogenic 16. Underworld- Dark and Long 17. Jeff Buckley- Grace 18. The Police- Best of 19. Massive Attack- Blue Lines 20. Tricky- Maxinquaye 21. Bob Marley- Legend 22. Radiohead- Ok Computer 23. The Verve- Urban Hymns 24. Stone Roses- Stone Roses 25. Joy Division/ New Order 26.SmashingPumpkins-Siamese Dream 27. Velvet Underground- The Velvet Underground and Nico 28. Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill 29. The Cure- The Singles 30. Nine Inch Nails- The Downward Spiral
I asked a brilliant former A&R executive, Ashmi Dang, for her list. Her advice was to pick albums that marked a period in your life. This is excellent advice. Some questions to help you get started: What was the first concert that you went to? What songs were popular on the radio during each year that you loved, and what album was the "must have"? Of course this all depends on in your age. The other reason to have these albums in your collection is so you will know when some "now" band is just a recycled Kinks or Kraftwerk.
1. The Clash - Combat Rock 2. Run DMC - Raising Hell 3. The Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique 4. Big Star - No 1. Record/Radio City 5. The Replacements - Tim 6. Oasis - What's The Story Morning Glory? 7. Radiohead - Ok Computer 8. Whiskeytown - Faithless Street 9. Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Colors 10. Public Enemy - Fear of a Black Planet 11. New Order - Substance 12. The Smiths - Hatful of Hollow 13. The Cult - Sonic Temple / Love 14. The Cure - Staring At the Sea - The Singles 15. Jane's Addiction - Nothing's Shocking 16. The Beatles - Rubber Soul 17. Nirvana - In Utero 18. Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Saturday Night Fever 19. Guns N Roses - Appetite for Destruction 20. Siouxsie and the Banshees - Tinderbox
Tip#7 Once You Have the in, Focus on the Interview. Be cool. I know this can seem very high school and relative. Maybe you think this is prejudiced. Life isn't fair. I'll give you a test: You finally get an interview. You wear: a) a suit with fancy shoes b) white shirt and jeans with a hole c) nice pants or skirt with a hip or interesting shirt. Hello…C is the answer. I am sure other people have been hired wearing other things, but this is my editorial so do as I say. I've had jobs in the music industry and you haven't. I've also hired people. Well, interns. You know how they say you know if you want to have sex with someone within 30 seconds of meeting them? Well, an interviewer pretty much knows in a few minutes if you are the one. Your boss has to want to have a working relationship with you. Think of it as a first date. FYI: I once interviewed a guy who KNEW SOMEONE. I strongly disliked his personality and arrogance. And he was faxing practically everyone at the label his resume. I didn't hire him. If you know someone and are an asshole, the odds are against you. But some people are big ass- kissers (not I) and will hire you so they have an "in" with your referral. This is business.
Tip#8- Intern or Temp- I know a lot of you think these positions suck and are for losers. You are partially right. If you are a loser and don't make the most of your position then it does suck. Yes, there are a lot of stupid temps. Use this to your advantage. If you are intelligent and able to multi-task then you can rock. Be the person's assistant. Don't act like you only have this job for a week, thus, you can be a slacker and not care what people think about you. Other people will request you as a temp if you do a slamming job.
Interns- Unfortunately, most internships are non-paid. But if you work in publishing, film, public relations or music you have some nice perks. And you can get college credit, so it is better than a classroom. Let this sink in before your interview.
One time, I told one of my intern hopefuls the real deal: she wouldn't be doing really cool projects and learning amazing things. The girl told HR (bitch) and they got mad at me. I was supposed to make the internship sound enticing. I wish someone had been that blunt with me. So, let's say that you do get an internship and it isn't thrilling. Do not say how you are bored and want to leave early. Mailings and updating rolodexes are tedious, but there hopefully is a light at the end of the tunnel. Plus, sometimes you get to work with other interns and almost always get to listen to music. Believe it or not, your boss will notice how long it takes you to accomplish these menial but important tasks. Don't complain to your boss or another co-worker about the lack of music industry knowledge you are getting.
Important: If you see your favorite-singer-in-the-world, don't scream or run up to her/him and ask for an autograph. You will be labeled a loser. I did ask for one autograph, for my roommate and myself from a sickening famous singer of the last few years. If you already have the assistant job then it is okay, though your boss might think you are cheesy. I was also the one who talked to the star's assistant and manager 10 times a day. In that circumstance I didn't care. When you have a cool roommate in New York City and they are on the lease, you will do anything to keep them happy. The music industry can also be tricky because it can appear to be very casual and like people aren't working very hard. Trust me, they are. No matter how casual the people at your label seem, they are still there to make money for the company. Keep in mind that everyone wants cool jobs, so there are tons of people ready to replace you or your boss. A lot of people are out of work right now. Don't talk at the water cooler for thirty-minutes thinking that no one will care because it appears to be a laid back environment.
Tip#8a Independent vs. Major Label- You can choose to work at an independent or major label. Usually, I would say take the indie, but it depends on your mentality. In this day and age, I would pick any label that has been around for a long time and has popular bands. It would be nice if the label were still around after you graduated. I interviewed at a major and was told they might not be around in a year and they weren't. Unfortunately, that's the environment these days.
Tip#9- How to Court Human Resources. To get a temp job, call the labels HR departments and ask what temp agency's they use. Some of them have in-house temp departments. To get an internship, talk to the HR departments, too. Don't send the same person your resume 4 times in a week. Most often, they will get annoyed and definitely not hire you. Plus, you are killing more trees, which irritates environmentally aware types like me. Note: HR people can have low tolerance levels. They are generally overworked and always have people bugging them about jobs. Be especially nice to them.
Tip#10- Who to Make Sure not to Annoy. Make sure that you don't piss of the Presidents or any of the VP's assistants. You want these people on your side. If they don't like you because you make mistakes that make them or their bosses look bad, then your boss will be in trouble. Luckily, I always liked the ones at the labels I worked for.
Tip#10A- Pray, If All Else Fails. This is for the religious and non-religious. I do believe that having intention and focus will bring you what you desire some of the time. Praying definitely won't hurt your odds. You can always construct an altar with various music paraphernalia (a bong doesn't count) and burn a prosperity candle. Let me know what happens.
Epilogue- As a recovering music industry employee, I must say I am doing well. I don't feel the need to be on every list and attend three parties in a night and I am still in my twenties! I am happy to be a normal person again and am fulfilled as a writer. When I left my last job I was burned out and sick of music. People warned me that this would happen and I scoffed at them. Certain large corporate buildings are nicknamed The Dark Tower and The Evil Empire for a reason. My jaded plate has been wiped clean. I am music virgin again.
Tiffany Stone's Movie Reviews
DJ SPOOKY THAT SUBLIMINAL KID
DJ Spooky's (aka Paul D. Miller) new joint, Riddim Warfare, is a Lewis Carrol-esque tonic culled from a pseudo-intellect's mind: haphazard thoughts from day-to-night reveries are alchemized into music informed by technology-happy and sensory-overloaded times. Where dance music can be emphatically one-dimensional, Spooky tends toward a multifaceted sound that constantly morphs-one minute it's hip-hop, the next it's blues, then drum'n'bass or classical.
Spooky's music is akin to what the United States has always aspired to be-a melting pot of sounds and cultures that complement each other rather than becoming assimilated. Spooky is a multi-media artist with book projects and a monthly column in Paper magazine, as well as a noted visual artist. All of this informs Spooky's multiculi perspective. "Post-Human Sophistry," starts out bluesy before going Cocteau Twins-like ethereal, and finally settles into drum'n'bass. The drum'n'bass rhythms move seamlessly into "Quilombo Ex Optico," recorded live in Sao Paolo with Brazilian underground crew, Nacao Zumbi, and noted NYC avant-garde guitarist, Arto Linsay. While many dance-music heads have OD'd on drum'n'bass, Spooky manages to keep it interesting with his hyper shape-shifts.
"Peace in Zaire," begins with an "Attention-All-Shoppers"-like voice informing futuristic inhabitants of word delicacies: "rolling rehab threat machine" and "erotic invisible empires." Cynics might deem this unpalatably pretentious; others, however, will find the word combos as enticing as fast food or magnetic poetry. The last song, "Twilight Fugue," has an ancient Buddhist mantra performed by Japanese conceptual artist, Moriko Mori, with a sincerity that transcends the annoyingly trendy Hollywood Buddhism.
Spooky traverses time and reality, taking you from a jungle in Costa Rica to an Ashram in one fell swoop. He collects sounds like one might collect sea glass, the shiny pieces along with the raw, the browns, greens, grays, and blues-all in different shapes and nuances complementing one another. Like the work of one of Spooky's influences, writer, William S. Burroughs, The Subliminal Kid's music is eerily dream-like in nature and seems like it's taking you along for the ride. It's an unabashed seduction best not overanalyzed, but instead enjoyed in all its pre-millennium thrilling dysfunction.
The cover of Hooverphonic's latest release is a picture of a radiated, blue, descending escalator. The escalator, heading deeper and deeper into a blue abyss, parallels the band's ethereal, yet groove-filled sound as they traverse the trip-hop underground. Even though songwriter/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Alex Callier says he dreamt up the title, "Blue Wonder Power Milk," simply because he liked the way it sounded, Hooverphonic's album title and cover come to symbolize much more as the album's most resonant songs evolve and undergo the same deep blue transformation.
The best songs could easily be on the soundtrack for a David Lynch or Gus Van Sant film, which comes as no surprise considering that two of the band members, Callier and Frank Duchene, met in film school. The songs unfold in visual and literary ways. "Magenta" conjures up images of the Arctic with its pristine iciness and winter's tale. Lyrics are often phrased with a detachment that helps emphasize the music's warmth. On "Dictionary," Callier deadpans: "Won't you be my dictionary/can't I be very necessary," while on "Strange Effect" new singer, Geike Arnaert, sings with ennui: "You've got this strange effect on me, and I like it." Both songs have a dance-music edge that the vocals contrast with. Despite the album's deep dance grooves, songs like "Lung" and "Electro Shock Faders" suffer from a sugar-sweet, cloying quality; the latter even has a Byrds-esque, retro sound.
On this, their second album, string arrangements and Arnaert's mellifluous voice are added to the mix. Both add trippier undertones that compliment the band's solid groove foundations. Geike's voice is both sexy and strong, not whiny or too girlie like some of her contemporaries. It's refreshing to have Callier's vocals on two songs-he's a yin to Geike's yang. Hooverphonic's sound is sparse, yet the distinct instrumentation gives the music a surprisingly lush quality, and Callier is a talented lyricist, which is rare for this oeuvre.
"Blue Wonder Power Milk" offers a strange, beautiful trip that's paradoxically grounding and filled with warmth and emotion. Hooverphonic's music will transport your subconscious to somewhere in the middle of a gorgeous, subterranean, blue abyss. Tiffany Stone
Don "Killer" Murphy Calls
I got a call from producer Don Murphy. I heard this guy was a maniac. I steeled myself for some death threats. None were forthcoming.
He objected to my publishing numerous emails of his that I found on Chris Hanley's website www.musefilm.com. Don has copyright on his own emails so he respectfully reminded me that I did not have his permission to publish his emails. Don was a complete gentleman about the whole thing, not the wild and crazy and bullying person I expected. I immediately went along with his request and removed 95% of the emails from my site. You can read them all at musefilm.com.
A Chat With Edgar Scherick's Former Head Of Production
I sat down with Hugh Taylor, former assistant to Edgar J. Scherick for four years (1988-90, 92-94), at his home in Los Angeles 1/26/03.
Luke: "Tell me about your book - The Hollywood Job-Hunter's Survival Guide."
Hugh: "It's basically a how-to-be-an-assistant to Edgar Scherick thing. It started over at Saban, when we were hiring a lot of people and this was going to be a guide on how to do coverage, etc. And it eventually become a book."
Luke: "How did you come to work for Edgar?"
Hugh: "I met Sue Pollock, who was Edgar's New York person [literary scout]. It was 1988. I was graduating from college [Harvard with a degree in, essentially, film]. The position of being his assistant opened up at that time and so he hired me [in June 1988]. I graduated on Thursday, got on the plane Saturday and went to work Monday.
"He was a larger-than-life character. He was about 62-years old. According to a lot of people, he'd already calmed down a lot but he was still a powerful personality in the full swing of his career. He yelled and screamed. He could be rough on people. I remember once he asked me to move his car and I didn't give him back his car keys and he yelled at me for five minutes that I had caused him to worry that he wouldn't know where his car keys were. He was like that all day long - breathing fire.
"He would mellow out towards the end of the day and tire himself out. As he got older, that would happen earlier in the day.
"Four weeks after I went to work there, we started to produce the six-hour mini-series The Kennedys of Massachusetts based on the Doris Kearns Goodwin book. The week I showed was the beginning of the 1988 writers strike. Edgar had his producing deal at Taft Entertainment (meaning they paid his office costs in return for first-look rights to his projects). They cut him off with the pretext of the writers strike. He was a homeless producer for a couple of weeks.
"Then when ABC (Orion Television financed) picked up The Kennedys, we went over to Orion for six months. During the Orion time, he made a deal with Saban to have a new home. Edgar always had to have a place that would pay for his office."
Luke: "What was it like working for Edgar?"
Hugh: "Pure education. My job was performing certain office tasks. I'd drive him around. I did a lot of script reading.
"Here's the way Edgar worked. He had many people in that assistant job over the years. If he feels like he likes working with you, he brings you more into the process. He barely spoke to me for the first month or two I worked there. He would tell me to type things up and read scripts. There was almost no dialogue. Then somehow that began to change. As we were driving around, he'd say, 'What did you think of that script?' And I would tell him. Over time, we would talk more. He'd give me little assignments, say, 'I want to make a movie about the boyhood of Mozart. Go research that.' I would go to a library and write up a treatment.
"Then he began taking me into meetings and I could sit in a meeting.
"I was so not-Jewish at that time [Hugh now belongs to an Orthodox shul]. I went to a meeting at NBC and they ordered sandwiches. They asked what I wanted. I said, 'Ham on white with mayonnaise.' [Meat and milk are forbidden to be eaten together by Jewish Law.] Susan Baerwold, executive at NBC, said to Edgar, 'That's real goyisha menu.' That's how Jewish I came across to people. Now I'm Orthodox and Edgar is Catholic.
"Edgar didn't realize that I was Jewish for the first two months that I worked for him. He was talking to his wife and he said I was a Gentile. And I said, 'No, I'm Jewish.' And that was right around the time the relationship improved, when he realized I was Jewish. I used to present completely not-Jewish."
Luke: "You went around with your tzitzit tucked in."
Hugh: "I didn't even know what tzitzit were at that time. If I had seen an Orthodox Jew eating a ham sandwich in a car on Saturday, it wouldn't have struck me as odd."
Luke: "What was Edgar's relationship with his Jewish identity?"
Hugh: "He was ethnically Jewish. He used a lot of Yiddish expressions. He was sensitive to anti-Semitism when he perceived it. He wasn't observant at all [of Jewish Law]. He had no affiliation with Judaism."
Luke: "Did he have many encounters with anti-Semitism?"
Hugh: "Very little. I think ABC in the fifties and sixties had some. That was a time when Jews were still on the outside of advertising and TV. It wasn't as Jewish as it is now. Obviously the CEO Leonard Goldenson was Jewish but there were people at ABC who didn't have a high opinion of Jews."
Luke: "When did you run Edgar's company?"
Hugh: "A year after I started there I became director of development. I helped manage all the drafts of scripts that would come in. We had 30-40 hours of [programming] in development. Then I [got my MBA from Harvard 1990-92] and when I came back, I became an executive with him. I spent the summers working for him.
"When I came back, he was leaving Saban and going to ABC on an experimental deal. At that time, the syndication rule hadn't been repealed yet [allowing networks to produce their own sitcoms and movies] but they knew it would be soon. Now it's the norm for networks to make direct deals with producers. The company became smaller. There wasn't as much money as there was with Saban. It was me, Edgar's two assistants, and one or two others. At Saban, there were about 14 other people.
"It was better for Edgar to have fewer people. The more people he had, the more harried he would become. He would feel that everybody would come at him from a million directions and he'd go crazy. He'd be on the phone and someone would poke their head through the door and he would say, 'I am not a hydra-head. I can't talk to two people at the same time.'
"He'd use a lot of classical and medieval terms. If he were busy, and he wanted someone else to take over a project, he'd say, 'You need to take up the cudgels and start fighting on this one,' like it was some kind of medieval contest. He'd talk about having the sword of Damocles hanging over his head. How Portcullis would come down and cut him off from somebody."
Luke: "He liked to show how literate he was."
Hugh: "He was smart and well-read. He used to do the crossword puzzle and he'd ask me for clues. He'd say, 'Who's a ninth century monk whose name started with the letter A.' And if you didn't know, he'd say, 'You're not paid not to know. You went to Harvard. You should know these things.'
"He was fond of quoting Oliver Cromwell. If a network passed on a project, he'd write them a letter, 'By the bowels of Christ, methinks you may be mistaken.'"
Luke: "My Dad quoted that a lot."
Hugh: "It's a good expression."
Luke: "Why did you leave him in 1994?"
Hugh: "It was a decision mostly to get out of the business. Working for him was stressful. It did take a toll on me. In the ABC deal [1993-94], I was the only executive there. I administratively ran the place and I was in charge of development. It wore me out. I didn't like the business after a while. We were doing a lot of true-story rights acquisition - calling up people who'd been victims of crime and trying to buy their rights. Not that I am so pure, but I became uneasy with twisting true stories around to make a dramatic point. Taking advantage of ambiguity in a story.
"There are incidents where someone innocent is convicted of a crime and their trial testimony will make it look like they did something, and because of the way the rules work, you can dramatize that trial testimony as real and people will view it as real and that's the way the story will be known. I became uncomfortable with that.
"One of the moments when it clicked that I had to get out... I went down to Florida to pursue the case. There was a woman who had been wrongly imprisoned for murdering her husband. It was a great TV movie story. You could imagine Jaclyn Smith wrongly accused of killing her husband. The woman had not gotten a proper trial. I met with her lawyer, one of these $500 an hour Miami lawyers, and he said, 'I think my client probably did shoot her husband to death but the fact is she didn't get a fair trial, so she deserves to be let out of jail.' And I say, 'Well, that's ok. I can make her look innocent in the movie.' As soon as I said that, I thought, 'Wow, is that what I went to college for? Is this what I want to do with my life? I've got to get out of here.'
"That's what the business had become at that point. That trend [of women in peril] came to an end. I could just picture the movie. Jaclyn Smith walking into jail and the door clanging behind her.
"I miss the creativity of it. Once for fun, Edgar and I made up a fake true story. Edgar needed to make a living so he would make these movies, but he really didn't like them. He didn't like crime and exploitation. Once for fun we made up a story of a nursery school teacher who was a prostitute and serial killer and we called it 'She Kills By Night.' We typed it up as a newspaper article and we faxed it to the network and one of the network executives phoned, 'This is great.' 'Well, sorry, it is fake.' Edgar could get away with that. If it had been me, I would've never worked in this town again."
Luke: "When I interviewed him, he didn't seem much interested in talking about his TV movies."
Hugh: "He was proud of his theatrical films but he did make a lot of good television movies - Betrayed By Love, The Kennedys, Phantom of the Opera, Path to War. The only [theatrical] movie he did while I worked for him was Rambling Rose and he had little to do with it. He had been the original producer on it but he had almost nothing to do with it when it was produced. He had found the book and had the script developed. There are many projects like that [at Edgar J. Scherick Productions] still sitting on the back shelf. I think they are going to try to resurrect some. When you pay the turnaround fees on movies developed 20 years ago, that can run $5 million."
Luke: "How did Edgar react when you quit?"
Hugh: "Edgar took it in stride. I told him that I didn't want to work in the business anymore. There wasn't much to say about that. If I had gone to work for someone else, he might've been disappointed. Everyone who worked for him eventually left. The question was whether you were leaving him at the right time or not. Edgar had a long history of helping people move on to the next level and then he'd help make the relationship.
"After two years there, I heard there was a job at TNT. I asked him to get me a meeting with [TNT exec] Alan Sabelson, which he did. I didn't get the job. He knew I was interested in moving along. I just burned out.
"It was around the time of the [January] 1994 earthquake. That was a big jolt."
Luke: "A lot of people changed their lives after that."
Hugh: "Edgar went crazy. He basically blamed me for the earthquake and that his life was inconvenienced. I just thought, 'This is crazy.' The day after the earthquake, the city was chaos. The police said, 'Don't leave your house. Don't use your phone.' He wanted me to come over to his house. He was trying to make phone calls. Nobody was in. He said, 'You failed me.'
"After I left, I would check in with him periodically. There were a group of us who had a strong attachment to him and we would visit him in the hospital.
"He had his stroke in 1996. I was engaged to be married."
Luke: "What was his relationship like with his second wife Marge?"
Hugh: "Until the stroke, it was a good relationship. They had a lot of respect for each other. She was an interesting woman. She had a Ph.D.. I don't know her maiden name. Her first married name was Iwasaki. Her daughter was Laurie Iwasaki. Then she married [after Edgar] someone named Scott, so she was Marge Scott Scherick.
"She was supportive of him [until the stroke]. She put up with a lot. He loved her. He was devoted to her in a lot of ways. They traveled together to productions in New York, London or Toronto. I used to book them on fishing trips to Costa Rica. The best fishing places are in the middle of nowhere. These trips were uncomfortable. You'd get on little planes, boats, cars. She would have to go down there and sweat it out down there in the fishing camp with him. Someone once said to Edgar, 'I didn't realize your wife was into fishing.' He said, 'She wasn't but now she is.'
"Fishing was his escape. That's why they bought a little place down in Texas."
Luke: "Were there any movies you made with Edgar that embarrass you?"
Hugh: "I was never embarrassed. We made a few movies that weren't that great. We never made a porno movie or anything really stupid and horrible. We made a couple of high concept low-end television movies. One was about a neurosurgeon who got raped and the rapist ended up on her operating table.
"Edgar involved himself diligently in all those things. I never heard him say, 'This isn't an important movie so I'm not going to get involved.' He'd be on the set and he'd supervise the editing and he'd go page-by-page with the director. He took to heart the maxim that you're reputation is what you make. Even if it is only a dumb movie for Sunday night, it better be as good as it can be. That's why he was able to work for so many years. Most people's careers [in Hollywood] don't last 20 years and he was in television for 50 years and in features for almost 40."
Luke: "How come Edgar had so many producing deals?"
Hugh: "I wouldn't say he burned bridges, but he could become a handful for whatever company that had him. Companies wanted him because they knew if they took him in, they'd get at least a couple of movies out of it. His TV movies were valuable at that time for creating bigger distribution portfolios internationally. If a studio like Fox could produce three or four TV movies a year, they could add that to the package they'd syndicate along with Die Hard and other hits.
"Edgar would clash with people. He said something revealing to me once. We were having a big fight over casting with the network. He wanted to cast Marcia Gay Harden, who's now a big actress but was then unknown. Big fight, arguing on the phone for an hour a day for a week, and he said, 'You don't really win regardless. Even if you win, you lose, because you've stained the relationship.'
"People wanted to work with him because he was like. If you have a [difficult] director or actor, someone like Edgar can handle them. Not everyone can. But it always has its own blowback.
"The business changed. Ten years ago, they were making a lot of TV movies. Now almost none. Deficit-financing television movies to distribute internationally [go into debt making TV movies for American networks in hopes of selling right overseas for a profit], that business barely exists anymore."
Luke: "How come he didn't own more of his product?"
Hugh: "He did own some of them but he was offered opportunities to sell them. He may have missed a few opportunities to make a lot of money. I never knew his financial picture completely but I'm sure he never made the huge fortune that some people make in that business."
Luke: "Was there anyone who wouldn't return his calls?"
Hugh: "Not that I know of. There were people who didn't like him and sometimes it was mutual. I don't think he had any kind of relationship with [agent] Mike Ovitz. What happened at the end, which was sad and revealing of how the town works, was that there were people who didn't know who he was anymore. When he was 70 in 1994, and we'd call New York to find out rights on a book and talk to a 27-year old book agent at ICM, the agent would say, 'Who's Edgar Scherick?'
"I think it was Fred Zinnemann who went into an interview at a studio and was asked, 'What movies have you done?' Fred said, 'You go first. Your list is much shorter.'
"I didn't tell Edgar, 'This guy doesn't know who you are.' It would've hurt his feelings and he would've gotten so angry that he would've called the head of the agency. So I faxed over the bio and said, 'This is Edgar Scherick. He is someone who can make this book into a movie.'
"With features, I could understand how that would work, because by 1994, Edgar hadn't had a feature film, aside from Rambling Rose, in about ten years."
Luke: "Did you see him lose touch?"
Hugh: "His stroke definitely effected him. He still got a few things made but he was dealt a big setback. There are certainly people who are disabled who make movies, but the perception that you are getting old and sick is bad. I don't know what happened to him and features. I don't know why he didn't continue to make features. I think he missed a generation of executives and once that happens, it's difficult to recover. He could call the people at the top, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Barry Diller, but he missed the middle layer.
"The people who ran networks (Bob Iger, Sandy Grushow, Ted Harbert, Jeff Sagansky) had a lot of respect for Edgar. They knew he had been head of a network and that there was this connection. They liked to talk to him about what was going on. He helped a lot of those guys along the way."
Luke: "Which of his protégés was he most proud of?"
Hugh: "He was very proud of Scott Rudin. He felt a lot of gratification that he had seen the potential in Scott Rudin early. I think Rudin was 19-years old when he brought him out here [from working in New York as a casting director]. I think he always felt proud that people like Brian Grazer, Larry Gordon, Dan Blatt, Michael Barnathan, went on to great success."
Luke: "Was Edgar a happy man?"
Hugh pauses for almost ten seconds. "Good question. I think the short answer is no. I think he was happy to the extent that he enjoyed making movies and being involved with interesting people. He spent much of his time grousing at people and intense conflict. That would make me unhappy. I don't know if it made him unhappy. To some extent, he thrived on it. He got to live a life and do things that a lot of people want to do and don't get to. Especially in later years, he had a nice relationship with his children. He was happy in a lot of ways. His day-in, day-out existence was unpleasant at times. He couldn't let go of things that bothered him."
Luke: "What were his strengths and weaknesses?"
Hugh: "One of his strengths was his ability to recognize quality material - find books, see the movie in a book or play, conceptualize it, sell it. He was strong at managing the volatile producing process. There are many things that can pull a production apart from the star who won't come out of his trailer to the director who has visions beyond the budget. He could keep all that under control.
"His weaknesses revolved around his temper. He would reach a point where he would lose his temper beyond any reasonable need. He was aware of it after the fact, after damaging a situation, potentially costing him the ability to do things. Organizationally he would suffer. One of the reasons he would have people like me around would be to pick up all the pieces and make sure that this paper got filed in the right place."
Luke: "How come he was never able to keep any of his employees for long?"
Hugh: "He was hard on them. Sandy Carrio worked for him for 14 years as his secretary. Her secret was that she was mellow and she didn't let it get to her. She had also worked for Don Simpson. She'd seen it all. His formula was to bring in people awfully young, pay them under the going rate, give them a lot of experience, and then they would move on. He expected that. He wanted people to go on to succeed on their own. He used to say, 'I don't want another replaceable part. I want a guy who's fired up who will go on to produce on his own.' And he got that. Sometimes he got people who wanted that but couldn't pull it off and just burned out. Edgar had high standards. He worked with line producer Lynn Raynor for about 25 years. He worked over and over again with Director Larry Ellikan."
Luke: "What parts of his job did Edgar enjoy and which parts did he hate?"
Hugh: "He hated managing and administrative stuff. He hated managing politics between people who worked for him. It's a pain for anybody. If he had two employees arguing over a project, he'd just get this look on his face, like 'Get out of here! I don't want to deal with this.' Edgar liked to make pictures. As he used to say, 'You're not making money unless you're making a movie.' He didn't like developing. It was a necessary part of the process.
"He enjoyed holding court. He liked to have people listen to him talk. He used to have a party every year at the holidays and everyone would sit around and listen to him tell stories."
Luke: "How many people did he fire while you worked for him?"
Hugh: "At least 20. Everybody who was there when I started was gone within a couple of years. A lot of people were induced to quit. Some people couldn't handle it. I had my own psychological litmus test for someone handling Edgar. If someone had difficulty with their own father they could not handle Edgar at all. They would crumble because he was the ultimate big bad father figure. He'd humiliate people. He'd ridicule people.
"He was going to bring in a new assistant. We brought this guy in for a trial day. Edgar sent him out to get lunch and the sandwich didn't have mayonnaise on it and Edgar fired him. Edgar said, 'I only want people who can be producers and this guy can't produce lunch.' In some ways that's harsh, but that was his thing. But in some ways it was like families where there's an alcoholic and everyone is tiptoeing around making sure that person doesn't get upset."
Luke: "Was there anyone who replied to Edgar with equal rage?"
Hugh: "His wife [Marge] could give it pretty good when she wanted to. She didn't always take the bait. She would sometimes settle him down. Sue Pollock in New York could handle him. She didn't get angry back. There were people at his level in the business, not in the office, who said, 'Edgar, maybe you should calm down.'
"I can remember an argument with Lamont Johnson, the director of The Kennedys of Massachusetts. I don't know what was happening on the other side but I could tell it was an escalating argument. Finally Edgar said, 'Lamont, if we don't look at this girl for this part we should have our asses examined.' He meant that their heads were so far up their asses they needed to have their asses examined.
"I remember writer-director Larry Cohen used to have screaming arguments with Edgar.
"Director Tony Richardson used to scream back at him. They would just go at it. It was like the Fourth of July. The network has strict rules about the length of a movie. It has to be exactly 93.5 minutes. Tony turned in a first version of Phantom of the Opera that was about 62-minutes long. Edgar went ape on him and Tony replied (in his upper-class British accent), 'So they will make it a three-hour miniseries. Who the f--- cares?' 'You can't do that to me. How dare you?' It was a battle of the titans."
Luke: "Edgar was volcanic."
Hugh: "That's a good word. That's probably why he had a stroke, that surge of aggression..."
Luke: "How would Edgar have liked his funeral and memorial service?"
Hugh: "I think he would've been into it. He would get reflective. He was at that age where a lot of his friends were dying. Part of my job was to keep his rolodex up to date and typed up. One day he said, 'I'm going to erase all the people in my book who are dead.' So he spent an afternoon, 'He's dead. He's dead. He's dead.' And he'd get all reflective.
"We think of Edgar as being old but Edgar was actually young for that first generation of television. All those big classic guys were dying off."
Luke: "Did Edgar get accused of unethical behavior?"
Hugh: "There was a studio person who accused Edgar of being on the take. It wasn't true and Edgar hated him for it. I don't think Edgar carried a lot of grudges."
Luke: "He seemed to carry one against Roone Arledge."
Hugh: "He thought Roone was not fair in taking credit for Wide World of Sports. Who knows what happened in 1960?"
Luke: "Did Edgar see himself accurately?"
Hugh: "There were certain areas where he did not appreciate his stature outside the world of entertainment. For example, he was interested in writing an article for The New York Times Sunday Magazine about television. They had a column called 'About Men.' He said, 'I don't want that. I want to write a feature article for The Times about my job.' We had to explain to him that nobody was interested in that.
"Once we were flying to London for a movie and he made a big stink with the airline about something. His wife was saying, 'Edgar, this isn't the Polo Lounge [at the Beverly Hills Hotel]. You're just another guy on this plane.' Edgar's not only the person to have this type of difficulty. He's a big person in the entertainment industry but elsewhere..
"He knew that his temper could get out of control. I worked for him. I wasn't his confidant. I was younger than his youngest son."
Luke: "He had good relations with homosexuals?"
Hugh: "Yes, he was very accepting. I never heard him make an anti-gay remark. We were the original producers of And The Band Played On movie [about the origins of AIDS]. He pushed hard for that to get made. It shows how networks change because in 1989 NBC didn't want to make it because it was too gay.
"He was a big proponent of women. Being of an older generation, he could get away with things that if a younger person had done would've been called sexist. He launched a lot of women in the business and as far as I know, he never did anything inappropriate.
"Once we were in an elevator with an actress who had just auditioned and was good looking, and I (only 22 years old) made some crack that she was smiling at him. He replied, 'Don't be a wiseguy. I've never had a dalliance with an actress.'
"He had a funny story about a man who worked at ABC in the 1960s, named Ed Sherick (spelled differently from Edgar's last name). And this man had a mistress who called the network and got Edgar's office and was talking to Edgar's secretary. 'I'm supposed to meet Mr. Sherick at the Carlisle Hotel.' His secretary was so embarrassed. It was a mistake. Wrong guy.
"Edgar was old fashioned in that way. He was [morally] strict. He wasn't a liar. He could bend things around if he wanted to make a deal but he didn't really need to lie. He made all these movies.
"One reason he succeeded so long as a producer was that he never laid a lot of bullshit on a network or studio. If something was going wrong on a shoot, he wouldn't hide it from the network or studio. He taught me something important. 'Do not mention a problem without having a solution that you can discuss at the same time.'"
Luke: "Was he a workaholic?"
Hugh: "No. He took his job home with him. He had been a workaholic. He'd cancel vacations with the family at the last minute because something had happened. That's not great if you are the family and packed to go to the Bahamas. He had a consuming job. You're working all day, then you have to read stuff at night and socialize...
"He enjoyed acting. The King of Comedy was his best part. He played Louis B. Mayer in The Kennedys of Massachusetts but I think that scene got cut. He always liked to go to the hairdressing trailer and get his hair cut."
Luke: "I think that 1991 ten-minute video Women in Film made of him on an ordinary day was revealing."
Hugh: "He was hamming it up. What they didn't show on that video when he lost it. Then he'd get really ugly. If someone made a mistake... Let's say a writer turns in a script, an executive with Edgar's company looks at it and turns it into the network. And Edgar decides the script wasn't ready and shouldn't have gone out. The script is already gone. So Edgar rides him. 'Why did you do that?' 'I thought it was finished.' 'Well, you shouldn't think that much. I'm not paying you to think. Why did you do that?'
"That could go on for half-an-hour.
"Edgar had a driver after his accident in 1989. I was responsible [in 1988] for getting Edgar's first car phone. He was talking on the phone when that  accident happened. His wife then forbade him from driving and talking on the phone."
Luke: "Was he in good health when you knew him?"
Hugh: "He was vigorous and robust but he had heart problems for years before the stroke. He had high blood pressure. Invisible ailments.
"When I first started working for him and he was screaming and yelling and carrying on, Michael Barnathan said to me, 'His doctor has told him to calm down and he's much calmer than he used to be.' Wow, what was he like before?'
"I asked people at studios if they'd make a feature movie with Edgar or is he just finished? They said they would make one if the right thing came along. He was eligible. He just didn't have the right project.
"Also, movies changed [studio released features became dumber]. The kind of movies he liked to make were getting made on cable. Movies have become so stupid. Intelligent feature films from studios are rare."
Luke: "Where did Edgar's demons come from?"
Hugh: "I think a lot of his demons were innate - rage control, excessive brain power. Not suffering fools gladly. That his father became virtually inert during the depression after having suffered a business failure was probably a strong motivator. Edgar had to "be the man" so to speak when he was just a kid. According to his older sister (who was about 10 years older than he) his mother was afraid of him he was so smart. He could talk circles around her. The Depression forced a lot of kids to skip childhood and become adults too early."