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The Mailroom: Hollywood History from the Bottom Up
It’s like a plot from a Hollywood potboiler: start out in the mailroom, end up a mogul. But for many, it happens to be true. Some of the biggest names in entertainment—including David Geffen, Barry Diller, and Michael Ovitz— started their dazzling careers in the lowly mailroom. Based on more than two hundred interviews, David Rensin unfolds the never-before-told history of an American institution—in the voices of the people who lived it. Through nearly seven decades of glamour and humiliation, lousy pay and incredible perks, killer egos and a kill-or-be-killed ethos, you’ll go where the trainees go, learn what they must do to get ahead, and hear the best insider stories from the Hollywood everyone knows about but no one really knows. A vibrant tapestry of dreams, desire, and exploitation, The Mailroom is not only an engrossing read but a crash course, taught by the experts, on how to succeed in Hollywood.
Read this book before heading to Hollywood
- April 29, 2006
I'm a former talent agency trainee. I worked at one of the majors. This book tells it like it is, and I wish this book was published before my talent agency stint. If you have ever seen the show "Survivor", you can get an idea of what it's like to climb the agency, or Hollywood ladder. There are very few spots, and there many people clambering for those spots. And those people who want it the most will do whatever it takes. It's very cutthroat. An agency with 100 agents, has 100 assistants, all of whom want to be agents. Maybe 10 of them will make it. Family members of Hollywood VIP's most probably WILL get promoted to agents (but after that it's still sink or swim..you'll read the story of Peter Guber's daughter in this book...she sunk). Same goes for Harvard grads...deep Harvard connections in Hollywood. Many trainees quit. The attrition rate is huge. It's a crazy business, and nearly impossible to have a balanced life as a trainee (or agent, or for anyone else in Hollywood)... read more
Witty, informative anecdotes of the low rung on the ladder
By R. Spell "raspell"
- March 28, 2003
I love entertainment business books and this one does not disappoint. Unless you're in the biz, which I'm not, almost all of the names will be unfamiliar. This book has no story. It's a known fact that a way into the entertainment industry is to work in an agency's mailroom, eat sh*t, and hope for your break. This book is a series of interviews with the former mailroom attendees on the good, the bad, and the mental make-up of the wannabes struggling to get out of "mailroom jail". It's funny, informative, and one of those books you can't put down.Many industries have a proving ground. In investment banking we put them on as a trading or sales assistant hoping they will pick up the lingo and learn on the fly. But the agency mailroom seems to be about feeding egos of senior agent's with much more screaming, yelling and attention paid to personal chores. They do mention many of the nice agents as well as the agents who were best at teaching the mailroom guys. My favorite... read more
FAST, FUNNY, OUTRAGEOUS MUST-READ
By A Customer
- February 5, 2003
I haven't even finished reading this book and already I love it. I know Hollywood isn't like any place else in America, and this just makes what it's like to start at the bottom in Tinseltown all the more fascinating. At the same time, these kids who went through the mailroom share much with all of us. Everyone has to start somewhere, and in the end the experience isn't all that different.
You won't believe some of the crazy stuff these kids had to endure and survive while learning how to play the game. I love the story about delivering the, uh, stool sample. And the one about how David Geffen kept from getting fired by faking a letter from UCLA saying he graduated. And the ones about hoping to deliver stuff to pretty young actresses, or crashing the company cars out of total frustration. It's endless. And mind-boggling. And really frank. A history of Hollywood also comes through. In the beginning, behind-the-scenes people got into show biz for the glamour, to rub elbows with the... read more
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