Clawing to escape the belly of the beast here in Hollywood. To commiserate, email my name assistantatlas at yahoo.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Confessions of a Disloyal Assistant: "The Meeting": 2.32

News on The Global Frequency follows this post.
So I had the meeting with Aliotta Fagina on Wednesday. Well, not exactly Aliotta Fagina, but I'll get to that. It was just lovely, though, really. Assistants at XXX get paid less to start than I get now. Trust me when I say that's not much.

On Friday, I had an interview with ZZZ, XXX's less Pop Art, more fountain-y rival.

And I've already interviewed this week at YYY (I didn't tell you about that one before so I didn't want to jinx it, let alone blow my cover or anything), another big, though less acronym-y place that could use a good new assistant. So it looks like I'll be heading into the very bowels of Hell itself no matter where I end up.

But I know you're all clamoring to know how the meeting with Aliotta Fagina went. As stated, quite swimmingly. (pay aside)

The two receptionist ladies weren't intimidating, but seemed quite charmed by my smile, my suit and my cool tie. When I told them I was "really early for my meeting, actually." [look sheepish] "Traffic was just amazing getting here, so . . ." and then I smile and they smile knowingly and one gives me a form on a clipboard to fill out.

They offered me "coffee while you wait over there" and such and had me fill out a form. I filled out the form watching the cool kids, the XXXerati, float by for awhile. The cool kids at XXX were an interesting mix of people, mostly middle-aged white guys, young white women, some black people, and a decided token of everyone else--they all walked by in the course of the hour I was in the lobby. The pattern was similar. People would sit down in the lobby and, in order of their importance, be escorted by a charming young assistant.

After turning in my form, I was informed that I would actually be meeting with a woman I will come to call Fake Taryn Manning. More on her later. But yes, I wouldn't be meeting with Ms. Fagina as she would be in meetings all day.

I wasn't forced to wait for an inordinate amount of time and received a full apology for that time waited-- time which I spent mostly comparing XXX mostly favorably to Wolfram & Hart. Fake Taryn Manning, who I think looked like Taryn Manning when she was hired. She had some frizz problems, but with my Chad Michael Murray-like hair, who am I to judge? I was glad to note I was dressed nice enough-- and looked right at home at Wolfram & Hart, Jr.

Then Fake Taryn came in from a lobby-adjacent glass door and led me to her small office, windowless, and closed the door. In her cluttered hole, this is where the 'interview' took place. Fortunately, it didn't look like a place where potential candidates came to give bjs. Perhaps that would come later. [pun intended]

After an entreaty to sit came the first question: "Why do you want to work for XXX?"
Atlas thinks: "I wanted to sell out, and I thought I could get the highest prices for it here."
The well-scrubbed Atlas says: "

Next, Fake Taryn asked: "All right, so what do think working for XXX will entail?"
Atlas thinks: "Hand-holding, weathering temper tantrums, dodging flying objects..."
Atlas says: "A lot of phones, I'm sure, scheduling, record-keeping. . . working to get agents and clients working together seamlessly. [yes! I am this eloquent! ...sometimes] Probably some coverage-- which I'd be great at since I've been doing more of it in my job than I bet most or all of your potential assistants have."

Fake Taryn: "Right well, let me just tell you what working for XXX is really all about." And then she launched into a 10-15 minute monologue on the perils of working an assistant desk at XXX. Let's just say the word(s) "thick-skinned" came up more than once.
There were also gift-buying procedures, expense reports, a lecture on the merits of XXX (with particular emphasis on "XXX versus 'other' agencies"), the prospect of working for the XXX team, the availability of jobs for XXX people when they move on (!), some more stuff about grids that she totally glossed (does she know what she's talking about on this? because she's confusing the heck out of me), monologue, monologue, God I wish she had a window.

Seriously, it was a monologue of epic, Shakesperean proportions (minus the eloquence and iambic pentameter). I just had to keep remember to stop nodding my head and then start nodding vigorously again every few sentences.
She stopped once for a question: "How are you with Excel?"

Among Aliotta Fagina and Expensive Art

Atlas thinks: "Excel, that's the spreadsheet one?"
Atlas says: "Oh absolutely, just ask my references."

Then came more and more about XXX, the gloriously low pay, the availability of an assistant position on a reasonably good desk (that is, bent over and taking a coffee enema), the long hours, the overtime after 12 or was it 14, hours?, the dedication it takes to last, and la di da.

Then, after all that, seriously, like 20 minutes, she asked if I had any questions.
Atlas thinks: "Oh, God, after that, I simply MUST ask some questions. She'll think I'm an idiot if I don't." I'd wondered about some of the grids she'd mentioned, but that wouldn't be good. Too specific.
Atlas says: "Now, everything you've gone over I know I can handle. But there were a few things I haven't done, like expense reports. Is there, um--" I trail off waiting for her response.

Obviously, Fake Taryn is quick to take the floor again and seems happily monologue-y in her answer. No, there's training, they'll teach you how to do stuff, ask questions, blah, blah, blah. More mentions of thick skin.

Then she said: "Now, you're interested in talent, right?"
Atlas: "Um, no, actually, I think I'd be better at lit, I mean, I could do talent, but I really think, a lit desk would be more appropriate."
Fake Taryn: "We had your resume in-house pegged for talent, didn't we?"
Atlas thinks; "You pegged my resume?"
Atlas says: "Um. . "
Fake Taryn: "Oh. Well." She looks over the resume I filled out and the one I gave her.

Fake Taryn pauses to look at me in a new light.

Fake Taryn: (reflectively) "Oh." She leans to her computer, types and clicks. She takes another look at me.

Fake Taryn: "We've only really got a second assistant position on a lit desk."
Atlas thinks: "I'll take it."
Fake Taryn: "But the assistant I'll need you to interview is actually out of the office."
Atlas says: "Okay."
Fake Taryn: "But that means you'll need to come in for an interview when I can set it up next week.

Gleaned from Fake Taryn's Monologues, here's:

Selected Advice from your Friendly XXX HR Person

"Be thick-skinned"
Read: Our agents are whiny, prissy, psychotic embolisms-waiting-to-happen. Be warned.

"Ask a lot of questions." Later. . ."Try not to ask the same questions over and over again."
Read: If you're an idiot, they'll find out when you ask the same questions over and over again and you'll be fired.

"Have thick skin, have a level head, be prepared for some. . .unusual goings-on."
Read: Don't touch the animals, especially during mating season.

"Take responsibility for things when you screw up so you can move on."
Read: Take the blame so you can take your lashings and get back to work.

"You'll need to have thick skin"
Read: You must put on a happy face. Better yet, glue it on.

"Our agents are under the pressure of million-dollar deals every day, so there can be some pretty crazy behavior" [note: yes, she actually said something to that effect]
Read: Prepare for the sh*tstorm folks, Atlas is going in.

And stay tuned to The Global Frequency. Tell your friends. Latest word on the street that I've heard is that the WB might try to get GF re-started for a summer launch or for next fall (the WB is okay at summer launches-- Beauty and the Geek and Summerland did well upon launch, though their future is uncertain) Since the WB already has both a full schedule and a bevy of replacements lined up (including "Misconceptions" on which buzz is good. . .for a sitcom), they've got some stuff in the pipeline. John Rogers [increasingly buzzed up by "Transformers", helmed by Michael Bay, not to mention GF] has some meetings in the works, so let's try for a GF re-launch with some contracts with everyone around September, perhaps when buzz has killed off a few shows that the WB thought promising.


Blogger jnr said...

good luck--and congratulations on the serendipitous opening of the lit desk. look forward to reading your account of your resignation from the current gig. sloane's dialogue, especially.

12:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Atlas. I have a feeling agents will be even more hellish than Sloane, especially if you end up assisting a young, 20 something agent with a God complex. Some agents like torturing assistants for sheer amusement. Sometimes its the stress of dealing with 35 or so, whiney, needy clients who want everything done yesterday. Be prepared for tantrums from your boss and many of the self-important people on the other end of the phone line. And the phone rings off the hook, hundreds of times a day!

11:16 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watch it. You're getting sloppy with your posts, Atlas. One of the things I like about you is your usual near-perfectness. That said, good luck with the global frequency.

12:09 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey there - if you're interested in meetings about movies, have a look at this!

6:34 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's a "lit desk?" Excuse me for my ignorance.

Eek, it sounds horrendous. Why would you take less pay, when you can continue to endure the horror that is Sloane? : )

8:39 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Lit desk"= literature desk It's where screenplays go for agents before they get directors and stars attached. If he's on a lit desk, A/A would be packaging/selling screenplays.

I'm a new reader, but I really like your blog so far.

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