Friday, December 12, 2014


"I'm not saying he's a whore, but he's a whore." Screen Gems President Clint Culpepper wrote of actor/comedian Kevin Hart.

Of course Kevin Hart is a whore, Clint. I’m a whore too. We’re all whores in Hollywood, and the current structure of the entertainment business made us that way.

This was said, for Hart wanting additional compensation beyond his acting salary to tweet in support of one of his movies, in an email to Sony heads Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton that was part of a group of stolen documents posted on the Internet by a hacker group. While I feel this criminal act should not be rewarded with attention, I also think this labeling cannot pass without further scrutiny and discussion.

Most of the people employed in the TV and film business as crew and talent work as independent contractors, for fees and/or commissions, living from job to job.

Actors, producers, directors, writers, crew members and other service providers don’t have salaries or benefits like studio executives. You hire them when you want them, when you’re ready for them, they provide a service and then they go away. That’s a whore-like work structure to me. 

If you choose to pay 'ala carte' for all your services, then you should expect extra fees for extra services. You paid Hart to act in a film because he is a huge, popular star with a track record that will draw people to pay to see your movie. But you want more.

What else does Kevin Hart owe Columbia Pictures now? Is he supposed to do the job of the publicity and marketing departments as well? How about craft services too?

Press junkets, talk show tours are the norm, but now Kevin Hart is supposed to use his personal, authentic,  connection to his 10 million+ fans on Twitter for studio business purposes, for free?

And the best part is how you claim in your email that he should do this help himself, not your product. Yeah, right.

Once upon a time Hollywood had a “studio-system” that kept the majority of Los Angeles employed year round, producing filmed entertainment for the masses. They did this while working for “The Studio”. Actors, writers, crew; everyone had “day-jobs”. The studio was home and took care of its workers, while also exploiting them in every way possible.And yet everyone felt vested in the studio's operations.

This system built the middle class suburbs of the San Fernando Valley and others areas surrounding Hollywood. Television changed things but compensated the change with employment on TV series that ran for 32 episodes a season.

Cable TV changed things again so now actors and writers work part time on a cable series for 13 weeks a year that the studios, not independent production companies, own because media companies paid legislators to get rid of Fin/Syn rules years ago.

This year Warner Brothers cut approximately 1,000 jobs globally as part of a company-wide belt-tightening. The layoffs amount to more than 10% of the studio’s roughly 8,000-person workforce.

Meanwhile Time Warner’s 3rd quarter of 2014 reported earnings of 97 cents a share on revenue of $6.24 billion. Analysts had estimated earnings of 94 cents a share and $6.16 billion in revenue. Revenues and profits are up.

Sony, Disney, Paramount, and Fox have all cut thousands of jobs over the last few years while their revenues and stock prices climbed but we’re the whores here? Please.

As the new Hobbit film opens, the Tolkien estate is fighting with Warner Bros./New Line. Despite the Lord of the Rings trilogy netting $2.9 billion in global box office sales, the studio said a profit wasn't made when counted against the production and distribution costs of all three films. All hail the bean counters, for they rule the world.
The studios have built a system that has no “net” for the players.

The studios, through their hardball contract negotiations with SAG/AFTRA, the WGA, and DGA, have structured this industry exactly the way they want it run and the people who used to have day jobs in the past know what the changes mean. More job insecurity for everyone.

Fortunately for the workers, every now and then, some get the power to protect their personal brands in the way Kevin Hart is doing now. There’s going to be more of this going forward in the digital age as technology and distribution pipelines advance and evolve.

This is what happens when workers feel like they are prostituting themselves for another's exclusive benefit. Extra Twitter fees are just the beginning. Get used to it. 
It’s your brothel Clint. If we’re the whores here, it’s because the studios are the pimps.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Top Ten Things I Learned in 2014

Top Ten Things I Learned in 2014

#10 An "Ariana Grande" is not an order at Starbucks. But if it were, it would be a bone china cup of weak tea with milk and sugar that thinks it’s a big mug of steaming black coffee, to go.

#9 The FIFA World Cup, they still hold it every 4 years, Americans still don’t care.

#8 Perennial teenager Archie Andrews was shot and killed in his comic book. It was shocking because he wasn’t black and a cop didn’t do it.

#7 Colorado legalized recreational marijuana and the daily commute from Denver has been harder than I thought.

#6 Ask Eli Manning to pass the salt at dinner and someone will intercept it.

#5 There aren’t a lot of great Ebola jokes. Plus, you need to speak loudly when telling them because people have trouble hearing you through the isolation tent.

#4 Jay Leno ‘retired’ as host of The Tonight Show. I’ve learned this before, but I think it will stick this time.

#3 No matter how famous Beyonce’s sister gets, I’m never going to remember her name. Also, don’t get in the same elevator with Jay-Z’s sister-in-law.

#2 We landed a rocket ship on a comet speeding through Outer Space, but nobody’s passwords on Earth are ever going to be safe again.

#1 Kim Kardashian is only famous when she’s naked.

Monday, April 7, 2014


I will miss David Letterman very much after he retires in 2015.
His legacy will stand as one of the most talented and influential late night hosts in TV history, second only to Johnny Carson.

Letterman's retirement puts CBS in a tough spot unless they absolutely, completely believe Craig Ferguson, the host whose whole show is based around breaking the conventions of the late night format, can move up to 11:30 and win over a mainstream audience. To do this Craig will have to either convert the new viewers to his unconventional style or "evolve" his act to win them over and potentially risk alienating his core following. That puts CBS in a position to make the hard choice of promoting from within or bringing in a new man.

Forget the arguments about race and gender surrounding this issue in the press written to fill column space online. CBS should have only one goal in choosing a replacement for Letterman: Do not pick any man or woman (regardless of race) who will have to retire before Jimmy Fallon.
That's it.
That's your only goal CBS, apart from picking a decent name that can entertain people during that time. You need him or her to outlast or tie Jimmy Fallon in duration for the next two decades or more.

Here's the facts: Jimmy Fallon is 39. And that's the only fact that matters.
Jimmy Kimmel is 46 so he's already the old guy at 11:30 as of 2015.
You need to beat that CBS.
So that means Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Louis CK, Ellen DeGeneres,
Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and any young Baby Boomer are all out of the running.

If CBS has to name a another new host for the Late Show in ten or twelve years because they are turning 67, like Letterman now, while Fallon is in his prime - it's over.

The competitive balance maintained during the Leno/Letterman years needs to continue into the new generation and NBC went for a long term solution in Fallon like they did with Carson back in the 1960's. That's why I think CBS should try to plant the smartest, youngest flag possible in the late night ground.

Neil Patrick Harris and Chelsea Handler are both 40 so they should be considered contenders. Harris seriously due to his level of popularity, skills and wit and Handler for political and public relations reasons because I'm not a fan of her work. Tina Fey is 43, super busy and doesn't need this job.

I think Kevin Hart, 34, would be a perfect choice to win the new generation but with his film career blowing up in an Eddie Murphy in his prime kind of way I don't think he's a contender anymore either.

Here's my out of the box, free, no-cost, pay as you exit pick for CBS and the Late Show job:
Jason Segel, 34, former star of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER.

Segel is funny, smart, a screenwriter and performer with musical talent.
His work re-launching the Muppets as a film franchise for Disney shows that he understands and appreciates a beloved franchise like The Late Show. Like Fallon he has a group of cool Hollywood insiders as his best friends to call on and do fun viral activities that will carry his TV brand to the internet. The CBS audience already loves him as a member of their TV family. CBS brass may or may not love him due to his tough contract negotiations during the HIMYM series but at 34 years old, 5 years younger than Fallon, he's a guy who can run 25 years or more on the show for the network. By hiring him CBS gets to promote from within and bring in a new man at the same time.

The late night market is segmented so heavily that a decent "name brand" can compete and make it close in the same way Leno and Letterman ran for decades. A network can be happy with either the young demo or total numbers. It's hard to win both but a performer like Segel could be the answer that CBS so desperately needs to its most important question right now.

P.S. to CBS, if you don't pick Jason just pick Neil Patrick Harris and you'll be fine. The next real big late night question is what are you going to do to compete with Carson Daly and Later?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Things I learned in 2013

* It’s been a year now and I’m not saying I regret saving the world from the Mayan apocalypse but you folks could show a little more gratitude.

 * Ben Affleck is free to do anything he wants after winning an Oscar.
Except play Batman. 

* NFL locker rooms are like LORD OF THE FLIES for grown-ups.

* If Walter White had killed Dexter both series would have ended better.

* 2013 was the year America’s retailers learned how to run Back to School and Christmas sales simultaneously.

* Syria. I know where it is on a map now. Thanks CNN.

* Kim Kardashian & Kanye West had a kid.

First time I’ve seen a baby cry when it was born for the right reasons.

* I bought too much Halloween candy again. 
Want a fun size Snickers?

* Blockbuster Video closed their last retail stores.

This is something I should have learned in 2009.

* If you compare our studio deals Grumpy Cat gets a bigger trailer than I do. Co-incidentally I have a litter box in mine too.

* That I am little disappointed Harrison Ford is going to take a paycheck and appear in the new Star Wars film after badmouthing the franchise for years. I know Han shot first but maybe he should have saved better?

* The producers and writers of THE OFFICE know how to end a TV series. Most satisfactory ending to a show I loved in years. It was to me anyway.

* I didn’t want to love Chuck Lorre’s new sitcom MOM, but I do.

* Toronto is a much more interesting city than I ever knew, eh Mr. Mayor?

* Andy Kaufman, Jerry Garcia and Elvis: all still dead.

* There is no frequent flier miles program for drones at The Pentagon.

* BROOKLYN NINE-NINE has the best opening credits music on TV.


* Every time the Red Sox win the World Series I expect the world to end the next day. Then I’m kind of disappointed that it doesn’t.


* No more real Mexican Coke? Damn. 
Wait, are we talking about the same thing?

* That I can’t watch Chris Pine in the new STAR TREK films without constantly thinking he really is William Shatner’s secret bastard love child.

* As soon as you think nothing will surprise you anymore, something will surprise you.

* 58% of Americans are FOR the legalization of marijuana.

The other 42% were too paranoid to answer the phone when the pollster called.

* I bought too much Easter candy again. 
Want a hard marshmallow Peep?

* If you hate the idea of government even existing maybe you shouldn’t ask people to put you in charge of it.

* That I still don’t care who won the Stanley Cup.

* That I want to open a restaurant with Cindy Williams and call it Tavern & Shirley.

* Chris Christie’s campaign film will literally be a ROCKY type training montage of him working out in the New Jersey wilderness.

* That too many people at the mall dress like they shop at FOREVER 21 when they should shop at a store called I'M ACTUALLY 50.

* Netflix was nominated for Emmy Awards this year. Amazon, Hulu, Microsoft and more are going to get into the game now too. 
Everything you know about TV is about to be re-invented...again.

* We can bring a knife on a plane but not a soda? I feel safer already.

* I want to open a food truck that only sells desserts and call it Wheelie Sweet.

* That I am more secure in my sexuality than Hallmark because I still don my gay apparel at holiday time.

* A 0-6 start to a season for your NFL favorite team sucks donkey scrotum. I’m talking to you NY Giants.

* If Chris Christie doesn’t win the Presidential election in 2016 he has a standing offer to host THE BIGGEST LOSER.

* 3-D movies are here to stay. Until they go away again.

* I bought too much Valentine’s candy again. 
Want a heart shaped Reeses?

* Since Congress only works about 27 days a year I didn’t even notice the government shutdown. I’m sorry, alleged government shutdown.

* If Hillary actually is running for President and consequentially will be on the road for weeks at a time 2016 can’t come fast enough for Bill Clinton.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Publicly Defending Racism. Really?

This is a Hollywood trade website but every now a then Drudge or some other right wing websites link to articles that embody the "liberal Hollywood attack" on good old Christian values like the right to call someone the N-word.

There are 300 comments from folks claiming they will "never watch The Food Network again!" and defending Deen's use of the word because "the blacks use it" and other stupid, hateful, ignorant reasons.

I get the feeling most of these folks never watched The Food Network in the first place because their dials have been stuck on FOX News since Obama was elected.

But if these crackers do follow through with their boycott the Food Networks demographics are going to rise a few IQ points.

So basically having a black President makes some folks so crazy-crazy they will publicly defend a person's racist language.

The speech is free in this country people but it is not without consequence.

Sometimes payment is deferred but the bill eventually always comes due as Ms. Deen has discovered.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Mickey Freiberg

No one can be successful in Hollywood without someone giving you an opportunity and/or taking you under their wing at the beginning of your career. Lisa Lindo gave me the opportunity but Mickey Freiberg really took me under his wing when that door was opened.

Mickey became an agent at ACME Talent & Literary about a week or so after I did.
He was already a veteran and a legend in Hollywood, Mickey "Cowboy" Freiberg, last of the old school agents. He had done it all and repped the biggest stars until he got sick of babysitting them so he switched to literary and was just as successful at that side of the biz.

I honestly had no idea what I was doing in the beginning. I was brought in because I knew comic book people & book authors and could sign them as clients.
Our mutual love of books connected Mickey and I and he became a true mentor to me during my time there.  He taught me the fine art of literary deal-making in Hollywood and much more.

Once I brought him a book that I thought would make a great movie and he told me I would just embarrass myself if I tried selling it in Hollywood because it was too big,crossed too many genres. So a couple weeks later right after I optioned the book to Tom Cruise and Paramount Pictures he walks into my office and says:
"Congratulations, I knew you were smart enough not to listen to me. Always stick with your gut instinct and don't listen to anybody else if you believe in it."
It was the best advice I ever got and I apply it in my work every day.

The last deal I ever did as an agent was with Mickey.
He signed the life rights of the last men, transit police officers, who were rescued from the rubble on 9/11 2001.
When everyone else in town was saying it was too soon to sell a 9/11 project Mickey shared their story with us and soon after I pitched it to my client (and another huge mentor in my life) producer Debra Hill. She jumped all over it and long story short that project became the film WORLD TRADE CENTER directed by Oliver Stone.

Mickey's rule "don't listen to anybody else if you believe in it." was enforced successfully once again.

Mickey was a loving husband & father who was incredibly proud of his kids and justifiably so. I am proud to be able to say he was my friend, partner and mentor at an important time in my life. Rest in peace Cowboy, and thank you.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Things I learned in 2012

* The Fiscal Cliff is not a hot, new reggae band.
* I can’t walk into a store and buy a Twinkie.
* STAPLES doesn’t sell binders full of women.
* Taylor Swift holds a grudge.
* Granting yourself dictatorial powers in Egypt is done with the same basic authority as calling "shotgun" on a beer run.
* Chuck Lorre is always dealing with a TV star hopped up on coke or Jesus.
* Coca-Cola is still way better than Pepsi.
* Everybody thinks they look cool dancing Gangnam Style.
* Nobody looks cool dancing Gangnam Style.
* I'm Team Katniss.
* If there's a "War on Christmas", Christmas is winning.
* State polls matter, national polls don't.
* Notre Dame football is back baby!
* In the case of a legitimate election you should lay back and accept God's will.
* Hunting vampires and freeing slaves made Abraham Lincoln one of our busiest Presidents.
* Even after a billion airplay's on the radio, I'm not sick of CALL ME MAYBE.
* The NY Mets still suck. :(
* If you go clubbing with Lindsey Lohan don't forget to bring brass knuckles and bail money.
* Twinkies & Ho-Ho's have a "street value".
* I have an alarm clock and a dog because my life is full of redundancies.
* In Hollywood that competitive project will actually help your project, not hurt it but it's still going to feel like a kick in the crotch when you hear about it.
* FaceBook is not worth as much as people thought it was.
* The NY Giants are the current NFL Super Bowl Champions. :)
* The Secret Service and Army Generals have a lot sex while they are working but porn stars in LA are the ones the law says need to wear a condom.
* Nothing says Christmas like club music & a light show.
* I never need to hear the song "Moves Like Jagger" again.
* Tic-Tacs are not medicine.
* You CAN fool all of the people all of the time, as long as they are Republicans and you are FOX News.