A witheringly funny look at life at the very bottom of the Hollywood food chain, this scabrous guide to a career in the biz is likely to scare off as many dreamy-eyed college grads as it will attract. Which is precisely what Robinson, prexy of Blue Relief Inc., and Morris, a screenwriter with a Miramax deal, attempt to accomplish.
The Hollywood assistant, they write, is a uniquely beleaguered individual — one moment a bullied sycophant, the next, a bouncer with the list at the velvet rope. In Robinson and Morris’ telling, if you’re not prepared to sit in your boss’s hotel suite rolling calls at five a.m. while he’s in the shower; plan your boss’s trysts — and relay recriminating messages from his or her spouse; or stare in the mirror without flinching and say, “Robin, Christmas just wouldn’t have been the same without ‘Patch Adams,’ ” then go back to Kansas.
The book abounds with true horror stories — many of them blind, vaguely recognizable gossip items — of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of the industry’s most powerful, and power-addled, execs. Robinson and Morris retail these vignettes with a blazing cynicism that sweeps the reader right into the thick of the business, adroitly capturing the lingo, the adrenaline and the myopic fascination with the fast-shifting landscape of players and deals everywhere evident in Hollywood.
But beneath the sarcasm, the book is also a useful primer, outlining the day-to-day duties of different assistantships. Whether you work at a studio for a “Stepford exec” or for a star like “Gwynona Driver” — a fresh-faced ingenue whose life is run like a Fortune 100 company — this book provides a wealth of practical advice on how to pad your resume, dream up the perfect corporate gift, make friends with telephonic technology and everything else that might prove useful to the next generation of Sammy Glicks.
And therein lies the book’s only drawback. A compendium of tricks ambitious insiders can use to claw their way to the top, the book seems destined to help create a new generation of Hollywood monsters who will terrorize their own assistants in due course. But that’s a small quibble. Few self-help books have the snap and irreverence that Robinson and Morris bring to this volume — and that alone makes this a handbook that that nobody entering the industry should go without.