Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Hollywood Years













So, you think it would be exciting to be a personal assistant for a celebrity?
Doesn't sound like too hard a job on paper, certainly easier than what most of the world does from nine to five. If you were to read the "trades" - The Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety, and happen across a want ad for an assistant, it might sound pretty good. It could read like this...



Wanted: Personal Assistant for an A list film star. Duties include coordinating and arranging travel plans, household management, preparing and organizing for meetings, parties, and other social occasions, overseeing personal appearances and schedules, responding to correspondence and traveling with the client as needed. Salary starts at $50,000 a year, includes a private house on employer's estate, all expenses paid. Must be flexible, possess good people skills and have a current passport. Previous Celebrity Assistant experience preferred, but not required. References mandatory. Will train the qualified candidate. Apply to (blah, blah, blah...).


And here is what the job really entails. (These are all- sadly - true stories).


Must be available at 3 am to move the foosball table from the Beverly Hills house to the Malibu house, by way of a drug pickup in Santa Monica. If table will not fit in the back of your small sports car must possess knowledge of how to take apart and put back together and the tools to do same. You have thirty minutes. Go. You may not ask the drug dealer for help. He is not your friend. He is your employer's friend.


Must study daily schedules carefully to ensure that employer's wife and mistress are never in the same zip code. If it is unavoidable that they will be, assistant must stay with wife at all times to ensure that they do not come face to face. Mistress may try to force a confrontation during Power Pilates. You will be fired if she succeeds. The wife may try to shake you off, as she has her own liaison planned (and knows full well what you're doing in the first place), but remember who pays you. It is not the wife.


You must be prepared to support your celebrity in whatever way you are asked to. This means that when she is training for her new film, (which requires her to look even more buff than usual), you will be following her in a car, on Pacific Coast Highway, at four in the morning, while she rides a bike ahead of you accompanied by her personal trainer, bodyguard and a production assistant from the film who is going over her lines with her as she cycles. Your job is to provide water bottles from your backseat that have been cooled to exactly the proper temperature... and to watch out for photographers and autograph seekers.


Speaking of water bottles, it is useful to know which brands of refrigerators hold which brand of bottled water at the celebrity's preferred angle for optimal temperature range. Water will be tested to make sure it is at the proper cool (not cold) degree and refrigerators will be sent back to the store they came from if the fit is not right. The celebrity realizes that the fridge was gratis to start with but is "sure they'll understand" and replace it with another, more acceptable model. Celebrity will not be so understanding if their water is served at an improper temperature (by you) again.


The "private house" in the want ad is actually an annex off of the garage that doesn't even have a bathroom. This doesn't mean that such a house doesn't actually exist on their estate, only that one of their freeloading relatives is already living in it. This is really just a ploy for the assistant to always be available to the celebrity, even if all they need is a replacement for the sex toy that just broke at exactly the wrong moment. What are you complaining about? Don't you know that a million people would kill for your job?


Or how about this. You've traveled halfway across the country with your celebrity to a film set in the middle of the boonies. You're excited, but your employer is not happy, because his costar in this film has an attribute that your guy lacks - he can actually act. And he's the hot young thang of the moment. But he also likes to drink. So, you - young, cute and blonde - are given the job of hanging out with him at the bar to make sure that he drinks enough to make him not at his peak the next day, which happens to be the first day of shooting. Why would Actor #2 hang out with someone he barely even knows, when there's no shortage of cute local ladies all watching breathlessly? Well, he's a notorious loner and your boss has promised him that you'll take care of his every need that night. When Actor #2 brings this up you realize that no matter what you do you're screwed, so you hem and haw and try to change the subject. Meanwhile, a local lad, who wants to look good in front of the gals and show them what pansies these Hollywood types are, hits on you to prove some obscure point that no one ever does figure out. Actor #2 drunkenly takes a swing at him, a full blown brawl ensues and production is delayed an entire day because Actor #2 got his ass kicked and there's only so much makeup in the world. And what does your boss say to you? "If you'd been in his hotel room like you were supposed to be, none of this would have happened."



And then there's my personal favorite. You must be prepared to sit with the actor and his girlfriend, who is in active labor with their first child. The girlfriend, who weighs about ninety pounds soaking wet, followed, per your employer's "request" a macrobiotic diet the entire pregnancy because it was "best for the baby." She is now screaming at the top of her lungs while delivering an eleven pound baby - at home - with not a drug in her system. The celebrity was appalled earlier when she said (yelled) that she might have changed her idea about the meds ("I want them NOW") and asked her, through a hit off the third joint that his assistant had rolled for him, how she expected to be in the moment if she was impaired by drugs.


Now, doesn't everyone want an application?


And you though The Devil Wears Prada was an exaggeration.

27 comments:

Willowtree said...

Amazing. But then I guess it's because these celebs are so different to the rest of us that they can do what they do. I sure wouldn't want to be a celeb for anything.

ped crossing said...

I'll keep my own crazy life that is ever so tame by comparison.

Hollywood really is an altered state in so many ways.

Funny (& sad) post!

Kaycie said...

How sad. Aren't you glad to be in liberal collegeville?

Altaglow said...

I'm surprised that there weren't a few others mentioned in this blog. But, close to heart is a tidiness factor that most love and can live with.

So many youngsters I knew had to deal with this system. I'm surprised that not only did they get through but they have tended to prosper.

Jo Beaufoix said...

Oh my Lord RC, how long did you stick it out?
I'm amazed people can be this vile and get away with it.
hope you found small ways to get revenge.

Jo Beaufoix said...

Ohh and I finished 'The Memory keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards.
It was really good.
Ended a little too suddenly, but a fascinating scenario.

Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice is a favourite for the book club too.

About to start the new Sue Townsend book, Queen Camilla, so will report back when finished. :)

laurie said...

will a macrobiotic diet really get me down to 90 pounds?

laurie said...

ok, seriously--it's amazing to me that people think this is some way to live their life. and i'm talking here about the assistants as well as the stars.

this sounds like a much harder job than editing stories on deadline. for about the same pay....

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Presumably, these celebrities started off life as ordinary people. At what point does water at just the right temperature become an issue for them? When they realize they can exert control over their poor assistants? What a sad life. Much better in the ER, I should think.

Jen said...

*shudder* Although I can't say I'm entirely surprised. Please tell me at least some of this was hyperbole. Please? Please tell me you didn't really stick with this job for long after being treated worse than the furniture?

The Rotten Correspondent said...

Okay, first off and for the record - I was never an assistant, celebrity or otherwise. N-E-V-E-R. I wouldn't have lasted five minutes, in the first place. I'd have been suggesting places the water bottle could be put to warm up. Not my personality at all. It's why I was such a rotten waitress - I hate people bossing me around for the sheer power aspect of it and I tend to get a little mouthy.

I always worked for Paramount itself, not a production company or specific person. However, I had a lot of friends who were assistants (or at least started out that way), and since we dealt directly with all the shows on the lot I got to see way more than I ever wanted to.
And this is (literally) the tip of the iceberg. These were just the first stories to pop into my head.And sorry Jen. I may have put a little spit and polish on the stories, but they're true. Pathetic, isn't it?

willowtree - I actually feel sorry for a lot of celebrities. Most (certainly not all) lose so much contact with reality. Being surrounded by people who cater to your every whim ain't what it's cracked up to be. Although there are days I'd like to try it.

ped crossing - I like my life just fine. They can keep their warped reality.

kaycie - really, that's what saved me - that I honestly didn't aspire to climb the ranks and rule the world. I wanted to get my husband through grad school and then I wanted to have babies. I enjoyed my job hugely, but it never became my reason for living. It's a fine distinction, but it was my saving grace.And I adore liberal collegeville!

altaglow - well,like I said - tip of the iceberg. And of course there are so many others that I can't figure out how to clean up enough to print!

jo - I didn't, but some of them got revenge in ways that you couldn't even imagine. I mentioned The Devil Wears Prada...I could only read about five pages of that book at a time because it shot my blood pressure up so high. They cleaned the movie up so much it doesn't even count. But it's that type of revenge that people took. Very passive aggressive stuff.

I'll add your books to the list.

laurie - Yes. Yes it will. Have you ever looked at what you can eat on a macrobiotic diet? Pathetic. (And I don't eat meat to start with). And I agree that the assistants need to get a grip, but they get so caught up in the "glamor" and power of it. Again...The Devil Wears Prada. As soon as the first assistant gets someone under her she grows fangs. The rule is abuse whoever is below you mightily.One of the producers on the lot had his assistant quit and then take him to court because she got tired of starting every day (I swear I'm not exaggerating) with him saying "Alright (rhymes with punt) what are you going to f**k up today?" She was a single mother and desperately needed the job. He planted drugs in her desk and paid off the judge. She lost. He died on a toilet several years later from an overdose. There is a god.

wakeup -I think it's when they surround themselves with people who tell them they're the next coming of Christ. I've watched this so many times. People are really nice and grateful and appreciative for their success at first and then start to abuse it. Not always, but enough. You can usually tell who is doing it, too. Look at the celebrities who always have an entourage and the ones who take care of their own business. Major tip-off right there.

jen- sadly, I'm barely embellishing. I'm sure it's the same in radio, isn't it? Egos go insane.

Damn. I just wrote another post!

la bellina mammina said...

And what about.... be careful when I lose my temper - I may hit you with my blackberry, phone, lamp....

ciara said...

i can only imagine these stars' attitudes. some become famous and with it become total arseholes. i totally hate how they revert back to being 'babies' by not being able to take care of themselves...sad.

Amy said...

I love your Hollywood stories. You're going to have Entertainment Tonight tracking you down, I think. Or the National Enquirer.

It's funny and sad and stupid, all this celebrity pampering. Yuck.

Diana said...

I'm fascinated yet repelled by this. (But keep bringing on the tales!) I can't fathom a life that twists so many to such a monstrosity.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I'd want a lot more than 50k!

By the way, you deserve all those awards that I gave out today but I noticed you already have most and a lot more besides!! So I've spread them out a bit to people who don't have any or don't have as many!

Crystal xx

PixelPi said...

I'm off to L.A. in 2 weeks for my sister's wedding. She knows people who behave just like the ones in your story.

So now I'm very, very afraid.

Mya said...

What dreadful people. It's scary what a bit of fame and money can do to a person's sense of perspective/humanity. I'd rather be skint, unknown and happy!

Mya x

merry weather said...

Sorry - I'm still stuck trying to imagine weighing 90 pounds soaking wet - Fascinating stuff RC...

Stepping Over the Junk said...

that's funny. I grew up with celebrities in Los Angeles...they were all over my town and all over my highschool...unbelievable lifestyle. No thanks, on being a personal assistant! I almost was one!

The Rotten Correspondent said...

bella - oh yeah, the legal stuff is a whole new ballgame. But I bet those assistants have some quick reflexes.

ciara - I know I'm a control freak, but I would never let someone take that much control of my life. I would feel totally helpless.

amy - Ah, they wouldn't care about me because my stuff isn't current. I have no dirt at all on Britney/Lindsey/Paris/Jessica. Thank god.

diana - fascinated but repelled sums it up pretty nicely for me as well.

crystal - I'd want a hell of a lot more than $50,000. Even with the free room and board. I loved your awards "show" and thought you did a great job passing them along!

pixelpi - honestly, most of the people in LA are perfectly normal. And nice, too. Where exactly are you going, by the way?

mya - I'd rather be loaded, unknown and happy. Now that would be sweeeeet...!

merry weather - my butt weighs 90 pounds soaking wet. Maybe even dry.

stepping over the junk - did you grow up in Malibu? I know you were on the beach, but I'm drawing a blank as to where. I bet you've got some fabulous stories yourself.

pursegirl said...

I'm going to need names!

Dumdad said...

Fascinating but, yes please, names names!

Dumdad said...

Fascinating but, yes please, names names!

Akelamalu said...

Ah yes, the small print! :(

Iota said...

Hm. Really true? You're sure? No fibbing? No exaggeration? I'll

Iota said...

believe anything, so watch your words now...