The quips came fast and rueful at a recent New York Women in Film & Television debate on whether the Hollywood boys’ club had made room for the girls.
One issue up for debate was ageism vs. sexism in the movie industry. Ageism was declared worse, hands down.
Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, now head of New York operations for Revolution Studios, recalled the difficulty she had breaking out of the steno pool at the William Morris Agency. “Unless your last name was Wasserman, you had to spend the first year convincing everyone that all you wanted to be was a secretary. In my case, after about 11 deaths and five firings, they made the girl the agent.”
“It’s a giant Ponzi scheme,” screenwriter Nora Ephron deadpanned about the movie business.
Wendy Wasserstein described the payoffs from writing for the stage in another panel: “Chances are you’ll make no money and be humiliated, but at least it will be your own,” the playwright said.
Other presenters included Ashleigh Banfield, Jean Doumanian, Margo Lion, Swoosie Kurtz , Jane Rosenthal, Jae Je Simmons, Martha Teichner and Mary Alice Williams.