Call Your Manager

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This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.

Here---s what you need to know for this story to make sense:--after the table reading of a pilot script --- or any script, really --- the writers and producers gather together and often, after hearing the script read for the first time -- make last-minute casting changes.-- Which means that somebody gets fired.-- But the way you fire someone in Hollywood is, you call their manager, and their manager sends them a page or a text message --
---Call your manager--- and they get it and call.-- Usually when they---re out celebrating or something.-- Hollywood specializes in this kind of incidental and totally unplanned cruelty.

Okay.-- Onward.

The key, these days, to survival in the entertainment business is to be what people call ---entrepreneurial,--- which is another way of saying, the key to survival in the entertainment business is to be prepared to be unemployed.

To, you know, make your own opportunities.-- If you---re 23 or 24 and have never known what it---s like to saunter into your office on the studio lot at lunchtime, play on the computer, go home early, and still get paid, a lot, and for a guaranteed three years --- in other words, if you---ve never experienced a studio deal --- this isn---t such a hard thing to adjust to.-- If you---re 23 or 24, you always expected to make your own movie with a DV cam and cut it on your PowerBook.-- But if you---re somewhat north of 23 or 24, and your closest experience with scriptwriting software is seeing the Final Draft 7 discs on your assistant---s desk, being entrepreneurial is sort of like one of those yoga poses that starts with the word ---reverse--- and includes the word ---twist.----- Good for you, if you survive.

So what we---re doing is our own little animation project.-- We wrote a script a long time ago that didn---t really go anywhere, but we---ve always liked it and thought it had promise. So we---re hiring an animator and producing about 15 minutes of the script --- in the first place, just to see what that might look like, an if it holds up.-- And then maybe, if we like what we see, we---ll take it out and show it to people.

But first you---ve got to pay the animator --- who---s 23 or 24 and for whom the word ---entrepreneurial--- means ---I get paid--- --- and then you have to record the voices.-- Paying the animator is relatively easy.-- The voices, though, means calling up friends and friends of friends --- actors and other professionals --- and gathering them together to read the lines in a recording studio.-- And in that case, the word ---entrepreneurial--- means that although they don---t get paid --- this is all on a favor basis --- they also don---t have to audition.--

It also means that if, say, you---re one of the writers and if, say, you want to read one of the roles then, in this case the word ---entrepreneurial--- means ---ego gratification--- and you do.

So one of the writers read the lead role at the table reading.-- He did a really good job.-- He was funny, his timing was good, I mean, I got big laughs, I mean, he got big laughs.-- I mean, I got big laughs.-- Okay?

So after the reading, we thank the performers, and we all go back and have lunch and talk about the script and some cuts and some rewrites---you know, normal stuff.

One of my partners in this asks me if I had fun and I tell him that I did.-- Because I did.-- And I really felt like I had captured the character.-- You know, through my voice.-- My instrument.-- And as I---m talking about how I did the character and what little tweaks I---d make,-- my BlackBerry buzzes and I have text message and I suddenly notice that one of the guys has been using his BlackBerry and I click on the message and read:-- ---Rob:-- call your manager.---

I had been fired.-- From my own project.-- So in this case, ---entrepreneurial--- means being able to fire yourself.

That---s it for this week.-- Next week, things could go either way.-- For KCRW, this is Rob Long with Martini Shot.


Rob Long