Tiffany Stone Blazes The Way
Tiffany Stone blazes new trails on www.moviepoopshoot.com. The week after she did "Day in the Life of a Script Reader," Pete Dewolfe did the same thing on the site from a Screenwriter's perspective. Then Tiffany did a "Gone Hollywood" list and the next day Patrick Storck's "Gone Indie" list was posted. To add insult to injury, the editor posted reader's emails praising these copy-cats.
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 Music 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.
Matt Weitz writes 1/31/03: Dear Mr. Ford: As a longtime reader of your site, I have admired the energy you pour into this exercise in self-creation.
Although it lacks the pizazz of your porn days, the site is still entertaining in the "train wreck" manner an earlier correspondent pointed out, and your efforts to make Mommy and Daddy cry by turning to Judaism are engagingly bizarre.
Lately, however, your site has been more a-brim with bullshit than a barn. I am referring in particular to the music biz essay by Tiffany "I was having an iced blended mocha at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Beverly Hills" Stone.
Please don't get me wrong -- as a freelance writer who never took a J-school course in my life, I have a lot of empathy for your position. It is, however, equally true as a music writer of over a decade's experience I must note that this essay is about as full of shit as it could be without mentioning Nazi military installations on the moon.
Personally, I doubt Ms. Stone's existence, as her use of English is of Luke Ford-quality crapulence. "Cognoscente" is an actual word, but here the word would be "cognizant." What, pray tell, is a "linier" (linear, perhaps?) music biz person? One who moves in a straight line? Through time and/or space? Through the word salad of Luke Ford?
Ms. Stone is in her 20s and she thinks of Moby as "new?" Where'd she grow up, in a cave?
This could be attributed to an ergot-infused batch of lentils were it not just another installment in an almost-exultant series of phrase manglings ("running the gambit") and bad spellings (your recent item on the supposed racism behind The Two Towers managed to spell almost every character's name incorrectly). Don't you realize that if you can't spell Smeagol or Gollum, nobody's going to care what you think of them? That the inability to present words in their proper form indicates a corresponding shallowness of thought?
Having a website, "working on (or even publishing) a book," and interviewing people doesn't make you a journalist any more than dressing a rhesus monkey in a tuxedo makes him the conductor of an orchestra. You gotta have the chops. So get them.
Good Luck, Matt Weitz
P.S.: The news that you do fact checking for others is very, very scary.
Tiffany Stone replies: "I have never heard of that guy. I know who a large percentage of the top music journalists are..I was friends with a few of the top-top ones when I lived in NYC..writers can be so funny. I would never take the time to write a letter like that. I like that my comedic writing style can infuriate someone so much. That's great... Your site wasn't the Wall Street Journal last time I checked.
"He was right about Moby being older/around for a while. Most musicians have been making music for years.... However, Moby is in his 30's...the music he makes these days is very progressive.
"Okay, I made the connection. The editor at moviepoopshoot, Chris Ryall, reviews music sometimes for The Dallas Observor. They apparently contacted him at some point because they had seen his music writing for someone else and really liked it. Matt must know Chris and read your post about me being copied. I read some of Matt's writing and it is very average. Ah, there was an emotional reason for him writing that letter. I am not impressed anymore..."
Almost Famous - An Interview With Alexi Murdoch
By Tiffany Stone (TiffanyAStone@aol.com) 3/3/03
Alexi Murdoch is the epitome of what I found sexy in high school: longish wavy-brown hair with a hippyish/’70s rock star vibe. At our interview, he’s wearing corduroy pants, a black shirt and olive green cardigan sweater. At his recent Mint show (club on Pico Blvd near Crescent Heights) in Los Angeles, he had a groupie section with myriad young girls in tight jeans and T-shirts singing along. Alexi’s strikingly pretty girlfriend was dutifully collecting fan info for the mailing list.
I recognized Alexi from his gig at The Mint. I didn’t meet him that night because things were mad. The Mint had recently been visited by the Fire Marshal, so they weren’t allowing in more than the maximum capacity sign allowed. I had to wait for fifteen minutes outside, even though I was on the guest list. This was almost a deal breaker. I was cold and annoyed. It was worth the wait. For only being the opening band, Alexi has deservedly garnered a lot of hype. His music wraps around its audience like a cozy blanket possessing a ubiquitous honesty.
Alexi was late for our meeting and sincerely apologetic for the second time that day regarding his tardiness. The first time was from his cell-phone. “I didn’t realize there was traffic at this time of day.” Our meeting was scheduled for 1:30pm at a coffeehouse in Santa Monica. Apparently, he was also confused about where Santa Monica is in relation to Hollywood.
“I’m so sorry. Let me grab a coffee. Can I get you anything?”
“No, thank you.” I was still nursing a peppermint tea. I wanted a slice of carrot cake, but a mouthful of crumbs didn’t make for good interviewing. He returned and was grinning sheepishly at his café mocha. “I still have this cold. I don’t usually have sugar, caffeine, alcohol or drugs.” Alexi started out the conversation by interviewing me about the Movie Poop Shoot website I freelance for. I speedily rattled off some facts, trying to sound knowledgeable. I really didn’t want to talk. Reigning in control, I switched to Alexi.
T: You have a distinct voice. I love your accent.
AM: I never really thought of myself as a good singer. When I was younger, I mimicked whomever I was listening to. I used to sing in more of an American accent, but that wasn’t true to who I was. I was born in London but also grew up in Scotland. My voice is more English sounding than anything else. My dad’s Greek, but I don’t think I have any of that in my voice. I don’t really listen to my voice anymore. For a while I got a bit obsessed with it: whether I was in tune, etcetera.
T: Do you get paid for any of your gigs?
AM: I do get paid for licensing, and now that the EP is out, it is cool. I can’t make a living-well, not yet. I also do voice-overs. I am sure you have heard me unknowingly. I don’t know if you know, “Morning Becomes Eclectic,” [a popular three-hour morning radio show in Los Angeles that plays everything from Moby to Philip Glass and includes emerging artists.] I’ve been played on it a lot. That helps. My music is starting to get played around the country now: Philadelphia, San Francisco and New York, to name a few. My website, www.AlexiMurdoch.com, has that information. It also lists the record stores where my EP is available.
T: Coincidentally, I just heard another live set with you as a guest singer yesterday morning on “Morning Becomes Eclectic.”
AM: That was so fun. It was the craziest thing. I’m doing a couple of songs with this Canadian producer, Michael Brooks, and he did this record with Tanzanian singer, Hukwe Zawose, who plays with Peter Gabriel. Next thing I know, I am playing with Peter Gabriel’s band.
T: How did Nic Harcourt [the host] of “Morning Becomes Eclectic” discover you?
AM: When I met Nic Harcourt it was really by chance. He came to see my friend’s band, East Mountain South. I was opening for them. I knew Nic would be into our music. He came up to me after the set. I gave him a demo, and the next morning he was playing it. He played it the whole month of August, and within a week of hearing it, they asked me to come in and do a live show.
T: You recently had a song played on “Dawson’s Creek.” Was that surreal?
AM: I don’t even have a TV; I had to go to a friend’s house. Then the last five minutes of the program [you know where they do the emotional montage where all the storylines get tied together, and the characters are pensively looking out the windows and stuff like that] they ran the song for like four and one-half minutes straight. It was amazing exposure. Immediately my website was overwhelmed with people buying the EP and writing me from as far away as Canada. It made me realize that with all the label interest I have right now, I’d still rather try things first on my own, independently.
T: My first impression at The Mint gig was that Alexi took himself too seriously and had an over- inflated ego. I was expecting to like him right away. I was surprised by his arrogance. He was not the headlining band, and he told the packed room to be quiet four times. Some people come to The Mint just for the bar. Perhaps his accent made him sound pedantic. I had never seen a musician hush a crowded bar. I didn’t think it was an endearing move.
T: How long have you been playing in LA?
AM: I got back to LA in February after taking some time off. It was exciting to see I was going to do it, to really get over the fear. I started playing open mikes anywhere I could. I had no clue how I was going to get a band together, and it just happened. They are all super- talented-not ego-driven, and very musical.
T: What are the different types of instruments in the band?
AM: They are the electric and upright base and a broken down drum kit. I am not into that overused drum sound. Sometimes there are other musicians that stand in. There is a real community of excellent musicians in LA.
T: How did the whole music thing come about?
AM:I sort of fell into music. I came out here to write fiction.
AM: Yes. Though, I actually followed a girl out here and stayed. I didn’t know what I was going to do: to act, write or whatever. It was a friend who heard me on a camping trip, and he came up to me the next week and was like, “I’d really like to manage you.” I was like, “What for?” “For music, man.” This conversation was what kind of kick-started the whole thing. Did you grow up with music? I didn’t find the guitar until I was 17, but I played the piano, the trumpet, and just about every other instrument.
Music has always been a part of my life. My mother was a singer. I started singing early on in a choir. That’s where I developed harmony. I went to a Christian boarding school in Scotland, and first thing in the morning we had chapel. At 17, I started out writing. The songs were really bad; very self-indulgent and about adolescent pain. I used to listen to Pink Floyd’s, “The Wall” over and over again. You have to get over the fear of finding your voice.
T: Alexi rambled on like a college freshman after reading his first philosophy book about what it means to be authentic. I was correct. Alexi was intelligent, spiritual and also a philosophy major at Duke. This sometimes translates into conceit. However, he truly believed his diatribe. Alexi was sincere.
T: Which musicians do you listen to? Who inspires you?
AM: It’s always embarrassing when I get into conversations about music how little I know about contemporary musicians. I only recently discovered Jeff Tweety. I had never heard of Wilco. I felt a really strong affinity with him. I don’t hear a lot of contemporary music that grabs me.
T: When I saw your show at The Mint, I noticed you had a few different styles of music. A couple of songs sounded like David Gray, and of course people compare you to Nick Drake. “Orange Sky” seemed alternative country to me.
AM: Someone said they heard a reggae vibe in that, which is funny because when I originally wrote that song and played it on the guitar, it had more of a reggae bounce to it. And now it’s more of an alternative country sort of sound.
T: Is this the direction you are going? Or do you just have different influences?
AM: Producers and other music people are always telling me I have to “hone in” on my sound and find out what direction I am going in. I understand the need we all have to categorize, but when you start thinking that way, you limit yourself. Generically, I couldn’t find a place for my music, as far as genre.
T: What about the last song, “Something Beautiful,” you did live at your show? It is a powerful song to end on (My date, after acting uninterested all night proclaimed, “That song’s money,” and threw down his business card from an established management company. Alexi never called him, and I never saw him again.)
AM: I am actually recording “Something Beautiful” right now. That song is really a chant. It’s only 3 chords. I had it for a while and just assumed it would be an intro to a song and that there would be more to it. Then I sang it for the first time a few months ago at a gig, and it worked. A lot of people have really connected with that song.
T: How do you come up with songs?
AM: If I had to describe how I write songs, I would say I focus on circles more than lines. I am not afraid of repetition. In this day and age we don’t pay very much attention, and you have to sort of repeat yourself [ad nauseum].
T: Where do you see yourself in the future?
AM: That’s a weird one because my philosophy has always been to not really plan or anticipate anything; it takes you out of the present. Though, I’ve realized that perhaps this is a naïve concept. Being acknowledged for what I do is more difficult than people think. A lot of musicians I have known over the years and even friends are getting weird. I am starting to feel alienated from them. They are like, “You’re doing so well. What’s it like? How’d you do it?” It’s not like I am any different. I am writing the same songs. I am hoping that I can get out there and not let my ego mess with me and stay humble. It’s funny how people will come out of the woodwork as soon as they smell success. They know what you want to hear and what your insecurities are. It’s hard to tell sometimes who is bullshitting you.
T: Alexi, obviously tenacious, took big risks to get his music heard: He once moved over from coach to first class on a plane to give Natalie Imbruglia his demo tape. Another time he met KD Lang at midnight in the frozen foods section at a grocery store. Having just wrapped up his first recording of a song, he gave her a demo. It was fate. Lang later left a message on his answering machine praising his talent.
T: Are you interested in getting a manager?
AM: I was with a large management company for a few months. I even knew going into it that it really wasn’t the place for me. I gave them the benefit of the doubt that they would work with me and do things differently. It became really obvious after the EP was done that they weren’t going to be satisfied until I was on Star radio [Top 40] and had a video on MTV. They definitely had a plan and resources. It’s not what I am into. I walked away from it, and they were surprised. I’m not signed to a label or anything. I think people are really lazy about their integrity. They’re like, “Keep it real.” I think selling out doesn’t happen in some grand transaction. It happens in small increments every day. And before you know it, you’ve sold off the whole thing. I think you have to make a stand from the beginning. I don’t believe in getting to a place and then doing what you really want to do. I don’t buy that.
T: Are a lot of music industry executives coming to your shows?
AM: At a gig, you can always tell who the industry people are by who leaves before the music starts. They scope out the scene, talk to your manager, then bail. The other night, I was more excited about two girls who drove all the way from Irvine to see my show at the Troubador in Hollywood than some A&R person who was trying to chat me up. I am doing great on my own. I got a call the other day from Tower Records in Philadelphia. They want me to do an in-store when I come to town and are going to give me a listening station at all five of their stores. The Tower woman who called had actually paid for my EP. Music people are always trying to get CD’s for free, so I was impressed. Record labels pay big money for listening stations. I also just did an ASCAP [American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers] showcase during the Sundance Film Festival. In March I am doing another showcase at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas.
T: After the tape stopped, Alexi waxed a bit more philosophically. Eventually, The Mint show’s “be quiet” issue surfaced. Alexi said he realized that he needed to drop the volume of his voice and that the audience would follow suit. See, overthinking can get you places, and Alexi Murdoch is on his way.
Concerned writes: I am deeply troubled by a recent article on lukeford.net.
The website, which is focused on Hollywood producer interviews and Jewish theology, suddenly gives significant column inches to an interview with some obscure rock musician. A rock musician? The article was authored by Tiffany Stone.
Suddenly, I am flashing on Abbey Road studios circa 1968. John Lennon walks into the control room and announces to the rest of the Beatles, "This is Yoko. She's a musician, too!" Uh, oh ....
Chaim Amalek writes: Luke, leave the music biz beat to Marc, who knows better than to post drivel like this. She's a very nice girl, but she does not belong on your site.
Chinese Water Torture: A Day in the Life of a Hollywood Script Reader
By Tiffany A. Stone (TiffanyAStone at AOL dot com)
This is a work of fiction first published on www.moviepoopshoot.com
Roll out of bed. Hit Memory 1 on phone to call Story Editor, John. Attempt to schmooze, even though I just woke up. At least I have sexy morning voice. Talk about: baseball (yuck), John’s latest favorite websites (who knew there was a website devoted to stars picking their noses?) and about how dumb morning shows are.
“You’ve got to see the new one. The chick’s hair is insane, her voice is like a man’s. Do you think she is? “
“I wouldn’t know because I am never up before 11. I am sure they are still atrocious.”
“…and she was asking Matthew Perry on a date!!!” John always said things that required more than one exclamation point. I hated exclamation points.
John brings up for the (10th?) time how there should be subways in L.A.
. “Yes, but it will never happen,” I lament.
I am a good listener, so I let John talk incessantly. I turn on the TV and channel surf. The Food Channel has gourmet French toast. My stomach churns with desire. I want to dive into a cloud of powdered sugar. After ten minutes, John finally admits that no scripts have come in yet.
“Sorry, darlin’. When are you going to finish writing your “Hollywood” screenplay? Then you wouldn’t have to be scrambling for scripts.”
Well, duh. I laugh it off. Being bitter and cynical isn’t attractive, I remind myself.
Peek at checkbook and throw it at wall. Get out of bed and eat half a banana Power Bar. I would rather see a matinee than go out to breakfast. Pick up my copy of THE INFINITE JEST, read two pages and put it down. Being a script reader has made me illiterate. Decide seeing a movie will achieve desired relaxation. Read LA WEEKLY, pretending that I haven’t seen every movie out and will not be forced to see the new Meg Ryan romantic comedy. Maybe it will inspire me to write a non-cliché one. Bullshit thinking.
Go to Vidiots to rent some arthouse movies to cleanse my palette after said movie. Also, am sick of using standard comparison’s on my comment’s page of coverage. If I have to say another script is a SILENCE OF THE LAMBS wannabe, I will puke. Rent THE ADJUSTER for the 3rd time, Mira Nair film and THE DOUBLE LIFE OF VERONIQUE. Why can’t I live in a French film? And John wonders why I never like anything. He joked with me last month about my esoteric movie references. I though no one read past the cover page. John admitted that he got so bored sometimes he would read the comments page of the readers’ coverage. I am glad that I don’t have his job.
Jen calls to see if I want to go out to dinner. I would love to, but know as soon as I get to the restaurant John will call with an overnight read. That’s the only way I make any decent money doing this. I pull out my vat of candy.
I pop a Milk Dud in my mouth and the phone rings.
John starts laughing hysterically. It wasn’t that funny.
“Up for another Holden?” I was so sick of that name. How many coming-of-age screenplays were wanna be’s? The last one I had seen that was amazing was RUSHMORE. It was about time we stopped referencing CATCHER IN THE RYE.
“It’s from Rich Stein” he says dangling the carrot, as if I had the luxury to pass on it. Rich was German and always wrote these really wacky scripts. They were definitely not material for a major studio. Rich was the only screenwriter’s work that I consistently read and actually rooted for. I knew he would be famous one day, though not anytime soon. Wasn’t that the story with all of us?
The courier arrives with the script. I watch him from my window walking up the stairs. He must be 6’6. Giant would be cute if he straightened his teeth and got a nose job. Just then, I start feeling guilty for such L.A. thoughts…I mean, it would be one thing if I were in casting. Maybe I should be? Giant rings the doorbell, which causes me to jump. I open the door just enough to stick my hand out, but it stays hanging. MY LITTLE MERMAID pajamas are for my eyes only.
“Need a signa ..”
“Right.” I grab the pen and scrawl my initials. I pull at the script, but it doesn’t budge.
“You must have an important job, “Giant drawls.
“Not at all.” He takes my honest reply for sarcasm and lets the script go, which causes me to fall back.
“LA’s all bout attitude. Try bein real one day o’ yer life.” Giant stomps off as I rub my ass, which I am sure has a gigantic bruise on it. If only he knew my real life.
After the courier incident, I am mildly depressed, so I go to Insomnia. I am preparing to read the script. Double mocha latte, check. Comfortable and well feng-sheid space, check. No actors around me, check. I cross my legs and sigh.
“Are you a producer?” Damn. I was almost finished reading the script. I pretend not to hear him. That worked some of the time. Then I feel a tap on my shoulder. I lift my eyes to glare at the pushy guy.
“Can I just give you my headshot?” Actor says, giving me that I-am-just-a struggling-actor-but-cute-as-a-puppy-look.
“I am only a reader. Can’t help you.”
“Reader?” Actor’s green contacts perk up.
“Bottom of the food chain,“ I elaborate. Yet his eyes still have hope. I take his headshot and stick it in my bag.
“Thank you.” Actor says sincerely. “Sorry to...”
“Yeah, it’s okay.” I wave him off.
Add actor’s picture to my headshot wall. It is almost filled to capacity. Should I start throwing away pictures or find more space? Throw them away.
After doing all my procrastination activities: showering, eating, cleaning dishes in sink, picking up apartment, returning phone calls and checking my emails, I pull out my notes and the script.
Reading over my notes, I start typing my synopsis. The screenplay ended up being boring. I am disappointed in Rich. His work was getting progressively better and then this. Every writer has a vampire story. At least the vampires were in touch with aliens. That was a twist. The only thing worse than reading a bad script is doing a synopsis of one. You aren’t allowed to editorialize and you must make the dull story sound exciting in case an executive has to read it. My typing speed is moderate, which is an endless source of contention. I tried to reteach myself to type faster, but that was tedious and boring. Soon I will have an assistant typing for me, I always remind myself. You have to think positively.
Finish coverage. Decide to sign up for an AFI weekend workshop, “Creative Coverage.” Let’s face it; I am a professional script reader, not a professional writer yet.
Day Two in the Life of a Hollywood Script Reader
By Tiffany Stone
5:00 AM - 2:00 PM
I skip into John’s office. The piles of screenplays are overflowing. He gestures to them and circles his finger, signaling, “I’m crazed”. John can’t play solitaire and talk to execs at the same time. John squashes his hand over the receiver, “Whatever you want,” he hisses. Lovely. I feel so very important now. Hell, tomorrow I will wake up and be a Creative Executive. I always loved that title.
I want to be at a party and have someone ask “What do you do?” so I can smugly say, “I create.” They’d laugh and say with an equally smugly response, “What do you really do?” “I am a Creative Executive at Warner Bros.” I win asshole.
I cop a squat next to a pile. I pass up a “true story” because they suck 99% of the time. Another pass on a 144-page script: amateur. It must be over 150 pages for me to get that extra 10 bucks reserved for the “long script.” Who said editing is overrated? Remember that writers. Do you want to sit through a 2-1/2 hour movie? The next one is formatted wrong. What the fuck? Ever heard of Final Draft? How do these people get agents?
John chimes in, “What about a book?” I cringe. I am not one of those kick-ass readers who can slam a novel in three hours. I can slam a martini. “John, I’ll take a Grey Goose straight up.” Oh, I didn’t really say that out loud. I am a snob, too. Yeah, I’ll admit it. Books are not meant to be speed-read. Well, maybe a Grisham novel.
“You aren’t a whore yet?” John crosses his feet on his desk. I have not yet succumbed to his book bidding wars. In his reader pool, there are no speed readers. However, there were people more desperate than I was for money, ones who would read a book for not much more than a script. I’d rather starve.
I go to the lame-ass reader’s appreciation party. I do have more important things to do with my time (like getting over writer’s block), and come on, if it were a real party we would be at The Palm eating steak and getting drunk. There are a few bowls with chips and pretzels. I go to the soda table and grab a Dr. Pepper. Nothing like a conference room soirée. I get a sinking feeling in my stomach. The stomach flu? Oh no, it’s that reminder of the 9-5 office job…better known as jail.
I wonder if anyone writes better coverage than me. Nah. Well, except for maybe the staff readers.
I survey the scene: A woman who could be my mom, a fat guy who looks 15, a collegiate guy, a nerdy girl with glasses, a wool striped sweater (honey, you are in Cali) and greasy hair. Am I in a John Hughes film? I was expecting hipster types like myself.
An Andrew McCarthy type walking in. I am pretty in pink. My smile radiates.
Nerdy girl speaks just as Andrew reaches out to shake my hand.
Fuck me now. College boy was going to mess with my income. This was too much.
Okay, time to split dullsville. I grab Andrew’s hand.
We find an empty office and make out.
Andrew takes me to a screening at The Writer’s Guild of WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE. I am overjoyed at the originality. Todd Solondz rocks. I am in a good mood now.
At the adjacent after-party I see Oliver Stone and Alison Anders. Alison is with Tom Ford. What’s up with that? TF is so conceited. I don’t recognize anyone else except for a fashion stylist to the stars who can’t dress himself. I decide to pretend that I know him. It works. He never even asks my name. I get him to critique my dress.
“It isn’t all that flattering. The color, I mean. Magenta would suit you much better. I love your bracelet, though.” Rick flashes me a fake smile.
Rick is wearing a cowboy hat with rhinestones and a white jumpsuit. I’d like to get paid $5,000 to take him shopping.
While Andrew is in the bathroom, an ugly guy in a suit with a vacant look chats me up.
The thing about Hollywood was that everyone down to the dishwasher at my favorite coffeehouse had a script. Thus, I was the enemy. “I am 22. I graduated with a BFA in creative writing and literature. And none of my relatives, thankfully, work in the film industry.”
Three Cape Cod’s later Andrew and I decide it’s the best idea ever to tear down two WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE posters. We don’t get caught.
I pick up the script that is due at 10AM. It is a broad comedy by a well-known director. It is his first script and my first script for his production company. It is off the mark. I’m sure it will make millions. In this case I will have to do some creative lying. I turn up my screenplay-reading music, techno. It gets me to read faster. I ignore my comfortable bed, begging me to lie down. That is the problem with living in a single. The bed is too readily available.
I start typing my comments page. Thankfully, I don’t have to do a synopsis. Instead of saying the characters aren’t well-developed, I lie and say they are. However, they could be slightly more original. For instance, Walter could have a nervous tick instead of stuttering. The pacing is off, too. I was falling asleep during the first 30 pages. I know readers who won’t read past page 10 if the script isn’t good by then. I try to treat writers with the same respect I want. I always read the whole script. The worst thing about the script is the dialogue. I read well-written dialogue in about 1 in a 100 scripts.
I ponder over a piece of cheesecake how to say “the dialogue sucks” in a PC way.
I dance for a few minutes for inspiration. Okay, I really change the CD to Dramarama. I need a break from techno. “If you just marry me, marry me…” My voice is not mellifluous, but I sing loudly anyway.
I cite examples of pages where the dialogue works and is from the characters POV (point-of-view). Perhaps the dialogue could be slightly more polished.
I pop two Advil for a headache. Trying not to step on famous director’s ego is very stressful.
This has taken me way too long: balancing positive remarks (trying not to sound like a kiss-ass) with constructive criticism.
I take a break. I go to my window and eavesdrop on the condo people who always fight. They are addicted to arguing. When I was younger and a romantic I thought fighting was passionate and always led to great sex. Hey, I was very young. I wonder if Andrew and I would fight if we lived together.
Finally finished. Set alarm for 10 AM, my deadline to have my coverage faxed in by. I always check it one last time before sending it in. My mind needs time to recover from the few hours of intense thinking. I think I will splurge on breakfast this afternoon. I doze off imaging exquisite eggs benedict from Geoffrey’s.
Day Three in the Life of a Hollywood Script Reader
By Tiffany Stone
I called John to see how many scripts I could finagle.
Karen answered, “Oh, hi Tiff.”
I swallowed to keep from asking her to call me Tiffany.
“Sorry, no scripts. It’s slow right now.”
This was the third day in a row. I needed to come up with a strategy. Maybe I should buy her a box of truffles? No, that was too much like a gift an actor would give a casting director. Plus, she was probably on a diet.
I made up my mind to go see Karen around lunch hour. It was always more difficult to say no to someone in person.
12:40 PM .
I secretly hoped that only John would be there, and Karen would be at lunch.
I walked through the overly modern lobby and glanced at the faux Eames chairs. Thankfully I never have to sit in them. Jay, the receptionist, was wearing a shiny black dress shirt, and his hair was spiked. He was a permanent temp. Jay liked me because I conversed with him and always gave him gum or Blow Pops.
“Hey, Jay. Special occasion?” I said. “I felt like wearing a different shade of black today.”
“You mean material.”
I opened the glass door to the offices with great momentum, but it didn’t budge. I slammed back into it.
“Ow,” I said too loudly.
“Sorry. Karen told me I couldn’t automatically let readers in anymore.”
I wasn’t any reader. Didn’t he know that by now?
“You can have a seat.”
I sat across from a petite blonde woman who looked familiar. She was wearing the typical manager/agent blah (black) suit. I passed on saying “hi.” I have finally realized that if I can’t recognize where I know a person from, they are probably not worth remembering.
I picked up Variety, since it was either that or The Hollywood Reporter, and pretended to read. Then I felt her staring at me and looked up.
“Is your name Tiffany?”
Damn, I should have said no.
“Jamie from ZZ.”
Oh, I knew her from a management company. I had worked at ZZ as a manager trainee for a few months. Jamie was always getting angry at me for not coming to the weekly 7:30am script coverage meetings.
“What do you think you are-- special? Everyone else shows up.”
Each week Jamie said a variation of this. She was always commenting in a passive/aggressive way about my weight--alluding to the possibility of an eating disorder. She had her own weight issues. I made next to nothing, so I wasn't dining lavishly. That was my secret. I wanted to tell her to get over it and develop a coke or crystal meth habit already.
I guess I had the upper hand because I hated my job and didn’t care if I were fired. I had gone to the Monday meeting once and had literally fallen asleep. Our work hours were 8am-8pm, and we had to read and cover at least one script after work. Jamie had everyone do a verbal script report in the meetings. Who gave a shit about the opinions of 22 year-olds? I didn’t.
Jamie wanted us to graduate to writing a four-sentence logline and commentary. It would take covering hundreds of scripts to be ready. Give me a fucking break. Jamie had broken down once and yelled at me. Outwardly she was always very controlled and even-tempered. I knew there was a lot of anger brewing underneath. I was supposed to do a treatment of a sci-fi comic book that had made no sense whatsoever. It was only 10 pages long. I truly did the best I could.
“What were you thinking? Did you do this on purpose? This synopsis makes no sense. Nothing happens.”
Her face was red now.
“You think you are being cute? Drake (her boss) was very upset with you.”
Yeah, Drake was fantasizing about spanking me.
“I’m really sorry.”
I am sorry that I had to even deal with the comic book. Jamie’s face softened. Jamie looked the same now except her hair was blonder, she had lost ten pounds, and her suit was designer. I was sure she had upgraded her shrink and had a Beverly Hills condo. She used to live by LACMA.
“Who are you meeting with?”
She cut right to the chase. I knew that she was one of the top managers at the same company now. I, of course, didn’t give a shit. I pretended not to hear her.
“Tiffany?” Jay called me over just in time.
I smiled at her and waved instead of saying, “Nice to see you again,” because it really wasn’t.
I couldn’t believe that I had to wait 15 minutes. There was no good reason. I bet Karen was overweight with ashy-brown hair and had been very unpopular in high school, not that I cared about high school or popularity. I enjoyed how this sounded-- like the opening of a cliché after-school special.
I strolled down the long corridor to John’s office. Karen was at her desk eating Red Vines like they were going extinct while whispering something to Diesel jeans guy. G-r-e-a-t.
Today he was wearing white jeans and a bright Hawaiian shirt. It was December. Karen was in a black suit that was way too tight, and she was overweight and mousy looking. I couldn’t believe she was older than 16. I extended my hand and said in what I hoped was a gracious voice, “ I’m Tiffany. You must be Karen.”
I sounded like a mom. Karen didn’t offer me any licorice. Bitch.
“Oh, hi Tiffy.”
Diesel Jeans looked at me dismissively. Karen noticed my scowl. “I’m sorry. You don’t like that. I always shorten people’s names.”
I didn’t say anything.
“Well, there are still no scripts,” she belabored in her forced, cheerful voice. I wanted to smack her. I pointed at John’s door. “John’s on vaca this week.”
“Vacation,” I said under my breath. What a Valley girl. There was an awkward silence. Diesel Jeans filed his nails. Karen grabbed her bag. “Um, we’re off to lunch, but I’ll call you if we get anything in.”
Yeah, r-i-g-h-t. I did not want to take the elevator down with them. I stood there for a minute and pretended to admire the oceanscape Karen had taped to the back of her computer. She had a collection of beanie cats on top of it. I had never seen anyone adorn the back of a computer before. And John hired this tool?
I jumped, startled out of my deep thoughts. A cute guy around my age was standing in front of me.
“Who do you work for?” I asked mistaking him for an assistant.
I had never seen him here before, but then again, I hadn’t met most of the employees.
“I am a staff reader.”
That rare species does exist.
“That’s your office?”
I hated when I stated the obvious.
“Yeah, want a look?”
The office was tiny, but somehow fit a small desk and couch. It reminded me of a dorm room.
“I take a lot of naps.”
Clay was average height and thin with black hair and blue eyes. “Why weren’t you at the reader’s appreciation party?” I asked as Clay flopped on the couch to prove it was comfortable. I was amazed that he fit. There was a regular pillow on it. I let out a giggle.
“Would you go again?” Clay asked me. He did have a point.
“John has some real characters. Some of those readers are old-timers. John doesn’t like to let people go. Was the grandma there? There probably weren’t any cute girls there because John has dated them all. I’m surprised he hasn’t asked you out yet. Do you have a boyfriend?”
“Are you Jewish?”
I disliked when people asked me that. No one ever said, “Are you a Scientologist?” I thought it was really personal. With my hair dyed black I looked ethnic. Someone had recently mistaken me for a Spanish soap opera star.
“John likes Jewish girls as buddies, but he likes to date quiet, submissive women.”
“Oh, so tell me about the other readers.”
No need to ruminate.
“I’m Action/Broad Comedy guy, there’s Walt-- a.k.a. Family man, (he really does have a family) and Alissa, “Dramedy girl.” Alissa is a huge bitch, though. She thinks she has a better literary agent than I do, among other things. I only do nothing a few days a week. You know my job is the epitome of hurry up and wait. The internet is my best friend.”
“Why don’t you work on your own writing?” I asked. That’s what I’d do. I’d love to get paid to have my own office space.
“I do sometimes, but it’s really hard for me to write here. I don’t feel very creative stuck in this box for hours. Trust me. I would rather be reading scripts all day than doing nothing on slow days. You are a writer I take it?”
I nodded my head. “Hey, can you copy some good scripts for me?” My writing teacher was permanently in my head saying his infamous, “Spend your time reading great writers unless you aspire to be mediocre.”
“No problem. I like to use as many company supplies as possible. Let’s copy some right now. Don’t worry; I will look out for you. I know Karen is giving most of the scripts to her bitch. If I see any on her desk, I’ll give you a shout.”
Finally something good happened today. I was beginning to think I should see a shrink.
At the Apple Pan, people hovered behind your seat, waiting for you to finish. I picked up “The Calendar” section of the Times so my “shadower” would know I was going to be a long time. This almost always worked, but you had to make it seem like you had a few sections to read. The front page was the best.
I tried not to think about anything as I inhaled an egg-salad sandwich and fries. I liked that I could be alone here, yet not feel alone. The seats were all counter seats that wound around the grill in a square. I was going to draw out this lunch as long as possible. Fuck making cold calls out of The Hollywood Creative Directory.
I reached for my check and noticed a 100-dollar bill sitting on top. The suit next to me produced a shit-eating grin. What an ostentatious asshole. He palmed my hand with a velum business card that read, Warren Lancer, attorney-at-law.
Back at my apartment, I had no idea where my Creative Directory was. I probably buried it somewhere on purpose. You would think it would be impossible to hide something in a small single with only one closet. If my credit card weren’t maxed out, I would buy a new directory. I did not like to waste time like this.
I turned the TV on so I wouldn’t feel alone. I can’t do any kind of cleaning without the TV or music on.
I realized that squeaky voices were emanating from the TV. Those damn Teletubbies were mocking me. I quickly changed the channel.
Yes, it really took me a half an hour to find the oversized red-book. It was in one of the compartments of my dusty suitcase. I didn’t have a clue why I put it there, either. I flipped through it and laughed at some of my notes. There were a lot of, “Not hiring readers right now, but would be happy to have me cover 2 scripts, so my coverage will be on file.”
I had gotten tired of writing this, so I had shortened it to: “Am naïve. Will work for free.” Making cold calls out of the Creative Directory was how I had originally landed the trainee job. I asked if they were hiring readers, and they said they didn’t use outside readers. However, they were looking for young/smart/green people for their in-house trainee program.
This time I would not start calling at the letter Z. That was definitely not thinking outside the box. I decided on opening the book to random pages.
I got a large glass of water and set it down by the phone. It was probably too late to start calling now. Mid-morning or after lunch were the best times to call people.
I put the Creative Directory under my bed, so I didn’t have to be reminded of it.
I tried to come up with a strategy. Maybe John would recommend me to some story editors or development people. Now I was using some brainpower.
I ran a bath in my tiny tub (good thing I am thin from still being poor) and settled in with a good screenplay. I couldn’t stop smiling.
Day Four in the Life of a Hollywood Script Reader
Prepared two mochas and one Columbian decaff while loudly humming Alexi Murdoch tune.
Manager told me to mop the Starbucks' restrooms.
Was openly mocked by my highschool aged shift manager when I told her my boyfriend became sexually aroused during a homoerotic segment of "Six Feet Under."
Tiffany Stone writes: Let's clarify Helpful's parody. That was so SNL. Very cool. The character "Tiffany Stone" has never worked at Starbucks. If she had worked at a coffee establishment, it would be a non-chain establishment. "Tiffany's" boyfriend would have gotten aroused sooner (just as the opening credits were rolling with the Six Feet Under theme music)."Tiffany" would be humming an Interpol song. She's not the type who would listen to a Prima Donna singer-songwriter. (Note to sensitive Alexi: That was from the character, "Tiffany Stone's" POV.)
You Know You've Gone Hollywood When...
“Gone Hollywood*” is when you…
-Drive a Mercedes SLK
-Have a Hummer/SUV with a “no war for oil” bumper sticker
-Live in a plantationesque house with fountains in Bel Air
-Initiate loud name-dropping cell-phone conversations at THE IVY, etc.
-"Do" lunch instead of "have" lunch.
-Have a power lunch
-Wear a uniform of designer jeans, t-shirts, $400 sunglasses and highlighted hair
-Send your assistant to Starbucks/Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to pick up your half-decaf/nonfat-soy/sugar-free/double-foam cafe mocha with a shot of expresso and caramel. Send your assistant back, because there isn’t enough foam
-Go through new assistants monthly
-Have your assistant buy all your personal gifts
-Make your receptionist get you drugs (from their drug dealer) during his/her lunch break
-Have your shrink, colonics person, and massage therapist critique the script you are producing
-Your children hug their nanny before hugging you
-Send your kids to the shrink du jour to learn therapy speak
-Think Botox is a panacea
-Say you had a deviated septum when asked why your nose is three inches smaller
-Adopt so you won’t ruin your figure
-Say you are an "independent producer" when asked what you do
-Talk your friend into writing a filmic novel
-Go to the Kabbalah Center or Agape to network
-Wear a red string on your wrist because Madonna does
-Pretend to be sober around people on-the-wagon. There is that fabulous AA meeting in Hollywood, after all.
-Only associate with celebrities
-Air kiss VIPs that you HATE
- Eat at restaurants where you loathe the food, but want to be "seen"
-Tell reporters you are skinny because of your fast metabolism, cocaine habit
-Spend your vacation going to Promises ($14,000 for a 2 week minimum) rehab center in Malibu.
-Have a life coach
-Go to yoga in full-makeup and hair
-Fuck your yoga teacher
-Wear a 4 karat+ ring to the gym
-Pay $140 a month to workout at Sports Club L.A., plus an additional $75 a session with a personal trainer
-Hire a publicist
-When you're 34, hire a publicist to finally get you onto the Hollywood Reporter's 35-and-under "Next Generation" list
-Only read “The Hollywood Reporter” and “Variety
” -Think "Us" magazine is a news publication and “Access Hollywood” is news
- Believe "The Real World" is the real world.
-Can’t remember the last time you had a friend who would bail you out of jail. Managers and agents don’t count.
-Threaten people constantly with defamation of character lawsuits
-Say you are “in the business,” when asked what you do
*This is only a partial list
Princess Tiffany: Bridget Jones of the Blogs