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FROM THIS EPISODE

This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.

For some reason, I get an e-mail every now and then from an outfit called "TV Tracker." It's a pretty good service, I think –- I say I think because you have to pay to get access to the real stuff, what they call "the television industry's premier on-line, on time source for what's happening in TV" and if there's one thing I hate doing, it's paying for things.

But I think if you're an executive or agent and you need to know what's happening in the business, you have two choices: you can scream rudely at your assistant to call his or her friends around town – who are also assistants – and demand the latest information, or you can have your assistant log onto TV tracker and then scream at him or her rudely to tell you what's on it. So TV trackers solves all the big problems: you get the information, you get it fast, and you get to scream at your assistant. A trifecta, if you will.

But you have to pay for it. Which as I mentioned, is something as a writer I cannot bring myself to do. My information delivery system is a little more elegant.

I wait for an executive or agent to ask me to lunch -– lunch is another one of those things I hate paying for, and I occasionally manage to gather up a few shopworn ideas into a script-like bundle and get asked to lunch, and then I ask the agent or executive to tell me what his or her assistant told him or her, after the screaming was done. So, you know, I keep informed.

How did I get onto this? Oh, right: the e-mail. TV Tracker sends out an email every now and then, something they call the "Movers and Shakers Alert," which lists all the people who have switched jobs or gotten promoted in the TV business in the past few weeks.

It's a perfect snapshot of the state of the business. In the most recent email, twenty-one people were listed. Ten of them -– almost half -– were listed as something along the lines of "Pursuing other opportunities." Some were even more honest: "Pursuing other opportunities due to corporate restructuring."

So, look, this isn't a very uplifting Christmas Eve message. I know that for most people in the business, it's a rough time -– people are getting fired (smart people; good people) and a lot more are about to get fired in the next few months. So what I'm about to say, in the teeth of a recession, may seem counterintuitive, but I'm going to say it anyway.

I want some money.

No, not for me. But for some people for have been living with recession and joblessness and hopelessness every day of their lives. As many of you know, I've been involved with a truly miraculous place for over 10 years: My Friend's Place is a homeless youth agency in Hollywood -– right where the 101 meets Hollywood Boulevard -- reaching out to homeless young people – and in many cases, the babies that homeless young people often bring into the world – with health care, abuse counseling, job training, a place to be safe, a place to belong, a place to begin again. Sometimes, just a sandwich.

And it's amazingly effective. Lives, really, are saved. The staff of My Friend's Place -– and I am not exaggerating – go to work every day at hard jobs with low pay and from some breathtakingly deep well inside their hearts they find the energy and the passion and the love it takes to show a group of homeless young people, who have known only abuse and deprivation and betrayal something better.

Look, I know it's been a tough year in the entertainment business. And I know that all of us in this business -– if we've been paying attention –- are a lot more concerned about money than we've ever been before. But I also know that a lot of us –- me included –- have suddenly started to notice how much we let slip through our fingers – the three dollar water and the five dollar coffee and the thirty-dollar salad and the sixty thousand dollar car that talks to us. Maybe we're all looking for a little more value for our money.

I promise: My Friend's Place delivers on value. And I also promise this: it will be the best Christmas present you ever bought, for yourself. So, please, check us out at My Friend's Place. That's MyFriendsPlace -– all one word –- dot org. And have a Merry Christmas.

That's it for this week. Next week, we ring in the New Year. We hope. For KCRW, this is Rob Long with Martini Shot.

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