Easy Sell

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This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.

One of the many, many reasons for never telling anyone on a plane or a train or wherever you happen to be sitting next to a stranger, "I work in the entertainment industry," is because they'll inevitable say something like, "You know what you should do a show about?" And then they'll tell you.

The other, bigger, reason for keeping quiet is because you'll end up having to recite a list of your credits, and if you don't have anything on right now, right this minute, you'll get a sad, pitying look, as if to say, ‘Oh, I wondered why you were flying coach.')

What I usually say is, "I'm a merchant banker," and it's the one answer I've come up with that seems to preclude any follow up. Lately thought, that hasn't been working. Something about the global financial meltdown, I guess, but I used that trick on a plane last week and ended up in a long, long discussion about the relative strengths and weaknesses of the American economy, and the prospects for equities in the next eighteen months. I did my best to be vague and non-committal, but it was a trans-continental flight, and I think I may have, inadvertently, convinced a guy to put his entire nest egg into a Korean phosphate company.

What are phosphates, by the way?

But people who know you, who know for a fact that you're not only not a merchant banker, you failed 10th grade math, those people can't be fooled. They must be listened to.

Usually, over the holidays.

"You know what you should do," someone will always say. "You know what would make a great show?" someone will start up, and then your eyes will slowly start to focus on the middle distance as you nod and smile and say, "Yeah, that would be good."

A person who should know better said to me, over the holidays, after pitching a reality show whose details, I have to be totally honest, I didn't quite catch, that the show would be, in his educated opinion as a patent attorney, an "easy sell."

Those words broke through my hazy inattention. An "Easy sell?" "An easy sell?" I said. "Do you have any idea how insanely ludicrous that sounds? Nothing is an easy sell. The biggest hits of the past five years – on TV, in features, wherever – weren't easy sells. Nothing sells easy. Nothing sells without pushing and prodding and fighting and begging and getting turned down a bunch of times and pitching and re-pitching. Do I come to your office and tell you that filing for this or that kind of patent protection is "easy peasy?" Do I go to my dentist and say, "Got that scaling thing, huh? You know what you should do?" No, I don't. When my car is making a funny noise I got to my mechanic and I give him eight hundred dollars and I come back later and the noise is gone, okay? I other words, I let people do their jobs. I assume that everyone's job is hard and thankless and involves a lot of pushing and selling and desperate scrambling for money, that nothing is an "easy sell" for anyone, anywhere, anytime. I said.

In my mind. In my mind I said these things. In actual, three-dimensional reality I said "Yeah. Yeah. You're probably right. They'd snap that up fast."

"So you should do that!" he shouted merrily.

"I will," I said. "I will do exactly that."

He laughed happily, then got serious.

"We'll split the money, right?"

"Oh, yes, yes. But you'll need an agent."

"Is that hard?"

"Oh, no," I said. "Should be an easy sell."

That's it for this week. Next week, Cinnabon. Happy New Year. For KCRW, this is Rob Long with Martini Shot.



Rob Long