Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Heading Home for the Holidays

Hollywood Assistants like heading home for the holidays. It's almost the end of the year. Can you believe it? While you were shackled to your desk with your headset firmly in place, 2008 flew right by you along with the constant stream of staplers and coffee mugs coming from your boss's office. Doesn't it feel like it was just yesterday that you were feeling guilty for bitching about the superstar client who made a donation in your name for your Christmas present last year? Bet you let more than a couple of his "special requests" slip through the cracks, didn't ya? (No Splenda in YOUR trailer, superstar. You'll have to make do with Equal!)

But here we are yet again. And with the economy lagging and another potential guild strike looming, everyone's cutting back on holiday spending, so you don't even have the high hopes of "flat gifts" (ca-ching) to buoy you through the three interminable weeks between Thanksgiving break and Christmas vacation.

That's why Hollywood Assistants are especially looking forward to going home for the holidays this year. There's nothing more nerve wracking than economic despair, so while we all watch our already meager 401k's shrivel into nothingness, many of us turn our thoughts to the comforting promise of a couple weeks at home. Home is where the heart is. It is also where your parents are. Ah, parents. Givers of life and feeders of starving children. After months and months of the Lean Cuisine & Campbell's Soup diet, there's nothing better than coming home to two straight weeks of Mom's home cooking. Or at least, Mom & Dad-treat-you-to-dinner dining out experiences. Of course, the flip side is that Mom uses more butter than Paula Deene and your LA Fitness membership is only good in SoCal. You could always take a walk and get some exercise, but please… You're an Angeleno. Your tootsies haven't traversed an outdoor distance longer than 3 blocks in years.

But just as your jeans start feeling a little tight, you perk up at the thought of hanging out with your oldest friends in the world. You know, the ones you've known since kindergarten. The ones who know all of your most embarrassing stories. They love meeting up with you over $4 gin & tonics at your hometown dive bar and recounting that story about how you wet your pants in the 3rd grade. It's all good fun, but you can only take so much. So you try to distract them by telling them all of those hilarious and fascinating stories you have saved up about their favorite tabloid stars. But remember to keep your "I know all these famous people" tales somewhat in check. These people might eat it up at first, but even they will eventually grow bored with an excessive case of Name Drop-itis. Whitney Port is exciting to no one, and thus no one will care that you were once next to her at a stop light. And how interesting it would be to listen to them drone on for hours and hours about how well their 4th grade class is doing? About as thrilling as an NCIS marathon.

When the conversation starts getting awkward with your "oldest and best friends in the world", you can always turn to the romance department. Your LA love life might be more akin to a Cathy comic than a Danielle Steele novel, but nobody needs to know that. And, as luck would have it, your high school crush is sitting just 8 barstools down from you. After you screw up your liquid courage, you go over and say hello and promptly prove how much more attractive, witty, and charming you've become in the last seven years. But then you realize that they're 40 pounds heavier, not getting your jokes, and about as interesting as a piece of balsa wood. Who cares? Make out with them anyway. It's not like you can bring them home to Mom & Dad's, so it will all have to stay pretty innocent. But you can slap your 15-year-old inner self a huge mental high five and let them know that, yes… you've finally achieved all you ever wanted in life. You tongue kissed the captain of the football team AND you've got access to Wilmer Valderrama's home phone number. You've finally made it. You're officially awesome.

So home's not perfect. Neither is LA. Each has its plusses and minuses, and each should be appreciated in their own context. Embrace the two weeks of nothingness and living on the cheap. It will be the least expensive vacation you'll ever take.

WHERE: Main Street USA
COST: Nothing, unless your parents are meanies and actually make you pay for stuff.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

30 Rock

Hollywood Assistants like 30 Rock. There’s nothing Hollywood likes more than to see itself reflected through a lens on film or television. We never chuckle louder or harder than we do at things we can relate to. Ari just fired Lloyd for the 15th time this season. LOL! That’s happened to us, too!

That’s one of the reasons why we love 30 Rock. Forget that it’s impeccably written, consistently hilarious, and lead by our ultimate smart girl icon Tina Fey. We love drawing the similarities between the workplace shenanigans that go down at the Rock and the crazy antics that happen in our offices every day. Each one of us can relate to one of the assistant-y kids on the show. Obviously, we’re Cerie. We’re hot, blonde, serve no discernable purpose, and bring down the house with one choice line every 22 minutes.

And we’ve all had drinks with Jonathan, the lovable greasy aspiring network exec whose undying devotion to both his headset and Jack Donaghy remind us of the loyalty we should show to our own bosses.

And who can forget Kenneth? Our office might not have an official page program, but every office has a Kenneth. He’s the kid who will jumpstart your car when your battery dies and who breaks out his secret awesome bowling skills at the office Christmas party. Sure, you might underestimate him in every day life, but once in a while he will really come through and impress you. You’ve got to admire his gumption.

So if you’re not already watching 30 Rock, get to it. You’re really missing out, and we’d never steer you wrong. (Ahem, please see our Mad Men post from this summer. Callllllleeeeeed iiittt.) Hilarious story lines, loveable characters, amazing guest starts – OPRAH, people, OPRAH!!! – what’s not to love?

WHERE: NBC, Thursdays at 9:30p
COST: Skipping the Grey’s Anatomy live airing. Tivo it. Trust us, you’ll be better off.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Drinks

Hollywood Assistants like having drinks. Normally, anything that includes the term “drinks” makes me prick up my ears in gleeful anticipation of an exciting night full of flip cup, vodka sodas, a few rounds of Red Headed Sluts, and eventually waking up in an unfamiliar apartment. Alcohol is usually your ticket to Adult Disneyland, the Happiest Place on Earth, where you can experience dizzying spins, indulge in one too many pieces of fried goodness (mmmm….fried cheese), and maybe make friends with a dwarf.

But unfortunately, “having drinks” isn’t as fun as it sounds. “Drinks” is the codeword for what is sometimes (or in my case, usually) the most awkward of all assistant activities. You show up to a drinking establishment to meet with a person you only deal with over the phone or on email, and your expressed purpose is to schmooze one another in hopes of getting some sort of future advantage out of a 45-minute interaction. Drinks are anxiety inducing for a number of reasons. If you’ve never met your drinking partner in person before, it can be somewhat akin to going on a blind date. You have no clue what the other person looks like, so you must resort to telling them “I’ll be the girl in the purple dress and the grey cardigan”. Then, if you’re the first to arrive, you spend anxious moments peering at the entrance and keeping your eyes peeled for the guy wearing the “pink striped button down shirt”. Once he walks in the door, you scramble for your blackberry, so you don’t look like you’ve been staring at the door for the past 20 minutes. Play it cool, chief. Play it cool.

Once you’ve found one another, it is important to stick to a few socially accepted rules for drinks. In general, unless you totally hit it off, stick to ordering only one beverage. We’re all busy, and we need to get out of there in time to watch Jon & Kate Plus 8/make that pilates class at LA Fitness/read 9 scripts before tomorrow morning. If ordering food, keep your choices to things that cook quickly and aren’t too disgusting to watch another person eat. Now is not the time to indulge in your buffalo wings fetish – your drinks partner probably won’t enjoy watching you pick meat from a bone like a hyena. Remember to balance the work and personal life small talk. By agreeing to meet in this context, you’re expected to give up a little dirt about what’s going on at your job. But it doesn’t need to be a full information shakedown. And feel free to gossip about mutual acquaintances. You never know who your drinks partner knows (scoping out your mutual friends on Facebook ahead of time will give you a good indication), and you might pick up an interesting “Janie was so drunk one night at Michigan that she…” anecdote to store away for later. And most importantly, keep in mind that this is a professional interaction, not a viable means of getting you laid. On the rare occurrence of your drinks partner being uber hot, remember to keep your cool and maintain an air of professionalism. You will still have to deal with this person on a regular basis long after you’ve signed the check and left your $1 tip, so try not to make an ass out of yourself.

When you’ve reached the point where you can’t ignore the 5th email from that agent’s assistant asking you to grab drinks sometime, throw the kid a bone and go. Sure, he might be a little eager, but he might also be the next Ari. Drinks don’t have to be that dread-worthy event that we all make them out to be. It’s not like you’re going to the dentist. And, bonus, there’s alcohol involved. You never know where your next job is going to come from or who’s going to give you the lead on a really hot spec that bowls your boss over. So take one for the team and just do it. You’ll have plenty of time to watch America’s Next Top Model once you get home – just don’t forget to set your Tivo.

WHERE:
Varied divey to not-so-divey bars around town. Our favorites include 3rd Stop, St. Nick’s, Little Bar, and Molly Malone’s.

COST: $8-$20, depending on what you drink and if you can find street parking. But keep in mind that it classifies as “Business Promotion” and is a tax write-off.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Brunch

Hollywood Assistants like brunch. To say brunch is the best meal ever is like saying the sky is blue. It’s just so obvious. Brunch crams two meals into one and therefore provides you with double the options and double the tastiness. It’s a total win-win situation. Us Hollywood Assistants look forward to this time each and every week. Working 12 hour days Monday thru Friday can be a bitch. So when weekend comes we like to reward ourselves with a special meal. And luckily, Los Angeles loves brunch just as much as we do.

Brunch in Los Angeles isn’t just a meal, it’s an event. They say the streets are lined with dreams here, but in reality they’re lined with brunch spots. There’s nothing better than getting together with a group of friends after a Saturday night at The Bar and recounting all the details. Being able to remind your friend about how she made out with that William Morris trainee over an omelet is awesome. Finding out you passed out in a booth in front of your co-workers who you barely know over pancakes isn’t so awesome. But, hey, at least you’re at brunch AKA the best meal ever, and when pancakes are involved nothing can really be that bad.

Los Angeles takes their brunches very seriously. So seriously, in fact, there’s a tier system. Three tiers, actually. Here is how they break down:

Tier 1 Diners and Chains: This tier is the lowest of them all. It includes restaurants like Swingers, IHop and Mel’s. One usually frequents these places when pinching dimes. Sure, you want brunch, but your wallet isn’t agreeing with you (did you really need to buy you and your friends those two fish bowls at Happy Ending?). One may also dine here if they are with a group of straight and fratty boys. Straight and fratty boys love these places for brunch, because to them it’s technically not brunch. It’s either breakfast or lunch. Only straight and fratty boys who are comfortable enough with themselves and have fine taste buds admit to ‘brunching’ and go to places in other tiers. Other examples of Tier 1 Brunching spots: Yukon Mining Company, Norm’s, Canter’s

Tier 2 Trendy, yet Reasonable: This tier is the most common for brunch. It includes restaurants like Toast, Kings Road Café and The Griddle. The restaurants in this tier are cool, though won’t end up costing you a million dollars. You might run into someone you interned with, yet also spot an actor from 24. These places are where us Hollywood Assistants feel most at ease. We can gossip, be seen and not have to worry about how we’ll pay for our next meal. This is where we go to shoot the shit. Just be careful about who you’re shooting the shit about as someone from the other table is probably their Facebook friend. Other examples of Tier 2 Brunching spots: Quality Café, Grub, Lulu’s.

Tier 3 Fancy and Reserved for When the Parents are in Town: This tier is for all the restaurants that are way too expensive for us Hollywood Assistants. Though, if there’s a special occasion (and we’ve saved up) or someone else is paying the bill, we’ll go. This tier includes restaurants like Campanile, Grace, BLD. It’s not really that we can’t afford to go to these places. It’s just that we don’t. But one day we will. Other examples: Polo Lounge, The Ivy, Hatfield’s

One place that offers a brunch in Los Angeles that doesn’t really fit into any tier is Saddle Ranch. Yeah, that Saddle Ranch. Did you know you could go there, order breakfast and for just $10 more get unlimited mimosas and Bloody Mary’s? Well, you can. And it’s kind of awesome. The clientele might be full of Rock of Love rejects, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. Whether you’re a Hollywood Assistant, an Olly Girl or from the Inland Empire, it doesn’t really matter. And when us Hollywood Assistants are drunk enough we don’t judge.

Learning about your friends shames/embarrassments from the night before isn’t as much fun if it’s not in person and over food. Brunch is the special time for all us Hollywood Assistants to congregate after a wild night out. We might be hungover/nauseous or looking like we just got hit by a truck or even still in the clothes we wore the night before (hello, one night stand), but who cares? This is our time to stuff our faces and act like the twentysomethings we often forget we are. Breakfast and lunch never tasted so good.

WHERE: Every other block in this town
COST: Tier 1: under $10, Tier 2: $10-$20, Tier 3: Over $20

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Outsider

Hollywood Assistants like The Outsider.

It was a typical Thursday night, out at an open bar celebrating…art? music? charity? honestly no idea we were at the bar the whole time…and I started chatting with a friend's roommate.

"So…you work in what?"

"Finance?"

"Financing…films?"

"No, just finance – hedge funds.*"

"Like…Over the Hedge the movie?"

"No. I just deal with money."

"Dirty Sexy Money?"

"No…just normal money."

"Huh," under our breath, "Weird." Trying to be nice, "That's cool. So what do assistants do over there in..um…fiiine…feeen…fun…?"

"Finance. I'm not an assistant, I'm an Associate."

"Wow! How long have you been working in…you know…that word?"

"Finance. Oh I just started after I graduated in May."

"May…2008?"

"Yes."

(Insert "Incredulous Face" emoticon here) "Yeah I have to go."

Now, we're not ones for statistics, because our communication/film majors did not require any math pre-requisites, but based on an informal survey taken by those we interact with, just about 96% of people living in Los Angeles work in entertainment, and of those, about 99% haven't regularly interacted with a non-entertainment person since college. This is surely close to whatever the official census taken indicates, we're sure, which is why when we meet someone working in (what was it? Fun dance? Fine ass?) something else, we are fascinated

Everyone has a term for them: Civilians. Outcasts. Who? Outsiders are fascinating creatures that the cunning anthropological eyes of Hollywood Assistants have studied in depth, and have noted several commonalities:

Disposition: These people are SO EXCITED ABOUT LIFE! And why shouldn't they be? They are young, they have social lives, they're making money and living in Los Angeles (usually on the West Side; they don't mind the 45 minute drive that gets them home at 6:45). They aren't clawing their way to a coordinator position, and while they take their jobs seriously, their jobs are not an all encompassing definition of their lives. Beyond their general excitement, they get excited about the littlest things. If they see you reading something at the beach – "Wow! Is that a script? Can I touch it?" If it's pilot season – "You mean you have a DVD of the show…BEFORE it airs? Is that legal?" And even discussing with them what you did at work today – "You mean you messengered something to Jerry Ferrara's HOUSE? You know TURTLE'S ADDRESS?" (they really all do love Turtle). No one minds a little ego massage, and it's nice to be reminded every now and then that, from an outsider's perspective, our lives are pretty cool too. Not cool enough to change the Hollywood Assistants' standard disposition of "jaded," but still.

Mating Habits: We're going to throw this out there right now: our industry social circle consists of a lot of chicks and a lot of gay men (so like…if you know anyone…). There's the few straight guys (all of whom have hooked up with at least one girl we know), and we're predicting a lesbian surge now that Lohan's made it trendy, but we generally have to look outside our circle to date. Cue The Outsider. The Outsider is either a dude who hangs out with other dudes watching football at Barney's (our common ground), or a girl who has no problem finding a plus one should the occasion arise. Bring an outsider into the group and you've opened up a brand new dating pool. In this sense, The Outsiders are gold.

Camouflage: The Outsiders look just like us, and usually blend in through a mutual friend. They generally know this friend from high school or college, and camouflage their outsider-ness during introductions by keeping to topics of conversation including how they know their friend, what they did last weekend, where they are from, etc. The camouflage quickly fades about five minutes into the conversation when they make their first slip up trying to talk shop, "Oh, yeah, I like Greg Berlanti in Brothers and Sisters too! Wait, he plays one of the brothers, right?" To quote the greatest cinematic achievement of all time "I love her, she's like a Martian." For the entertainment value alone, it's always fun when an outsider shows up to the party.

Oscar Pick-ology: In the weeks leading up to the Oscars, Hollywood Assistants agonize over their Oscar ballot picks. We read expert opinions, re-watch screeners, pencil in, erase, and finally come up with what are sure to be the perfect picks and submit one to five ballots in our friend and work groups. The most exciting of these ballots, of course, is the one in the running at the "live contest," specifically, whichever Oscar viewing house party we've hit up this year. Every year, though, it's that one house party guest with no industry affiliation who just "filled this out for fun" who just f-ing schools us. No one can pick best animated short like an outsider, and all the outsiders knew Crash was going to win best picture in 2006 (EVERY expert had Brokeback winning, EVERY one!). We still love them, though, because they can take our money, but they can never take our screeners.

Although seemingly harmless, be cautious when befriending The Outsider. While we like to know them, becoming too close has some risks. For example, they always want to meet for Happy Hour…at 6:30. Not even on a half day. They get really annoyed when you don't show up until 8:30. Try not to ask about their salaries. Aside from being tacky, it's going to be more than yours…way, way more. Don't even bother hating on The Hills with them, they think it could be real. And God forbid you run into a cast member of "The Real World." You would think it was Ben Silverman or something, the way they get so embarrassingly excited.

WHERE: Working downtown, residing on the west side

COST: You might have to loan out a few screeners, just for fun.

*As it stands, we don't really understand what hedge funds are. I think we heard the term on Wall Street…the movie.

Game Night

Hollywood Assistants like game night. All work, no play makes Hollywood Assistants very dull boys and girls. That’s why we love game night! During the day we sit at our desks answering calls or sit in our cars running errands, so when night comes all we want is some good old fashioned, uninhibited fun. It’s always nice to be able to resort to our kid-like selves and take our minds off the trials and tribulations of work. Thank God for game night, our weekly savior. Except unlike when we were kids, alcohol is now always involved when we play games.

If someone had told me when I was in college that the highlight of my workweek at the age of 25 would be game night, I’d tell them they were crazy. I wasn’t going to be that kind of 25 year old and if I were then I would be a total loser. But now here I am at 25 and there is nothing I’d like to do more than play games on a Wednesday night. With our lives so hectic, being able to get together with a group of friends to play Taboo or Charades is very comforting. For those few hours we can forget about how our boss reamed us out for forgetting to follow up on that lunch meeting or how our co-worker got picked for the training program over us. When playing Scattergories it’s like none of it even matters anymore. Life takes a backseat. And like I said before, the alcohol usually helps.

Game night is a lot like Hollywood. It can be cut throat. What do you expect when you bring together a bunch of tense Hollywood Assistants? True colors come out and that’s when it’s revealed who’s a future agent and who’s a future staff writer. But don’t let game night get the best of you. In the end, it’s just a game. And winning really just allows bragging rights (though in this town that means a lot).

Also, thanks to Wii and Xbox game night has evolved into something even greater than just board games. Being a part of the Nintendo generation brought up on Duck Hunt, Super Mario Bros and Stadium Events (remember with the power pad?!), it’s no surprise that we are all obsessed with games like Guitar Hero and Wii Tennis. There’s nothing greater than starting up your very own band with friends via Rock Band. Band name? Assist This. Favorite Song to perform: Celebrity Skin by Hole. Because now we all know what Courtney Love meant when she sang “Wilted and faded somewhere in Hollywood.”

Game night is not like going to Area where you could either have a hit or miss night. Game night is always a hit. Because if you’re with friends, in a relaxed environment, letting your true self come out, it’s guaranteed fun. So grab a bunch of friends, get out Apples to Apples and enjoy the moment. Because tomorrow at work, it won’t be all fun and games.

WHERE: Living rooms in the Fairfax district
COST: Around $25 for Apples to Apples (regular edition, bible edition and Jewish edition, for real)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

One Night Stands

Hollywood Assistants like one night stands. Its 10:30am on a Sunday, and you awake with a pounding headache to the familiar sight of your apartment's lovely 70's-era popcorn ceiling. Except, your popcorn ceiling is more of an ecru color... not off-white. And you don't remember hanging a Scarface poster above your bed. And you're pretty sure that you bought the Hemnes dresser from Ikea, not the Aneboda. Suddenly a fleshy, hairy arm whacks you in the face and you realize.... uh-oh. You've done it again. You drank one too many mojitos, threw caution to the wind, and passionately lunged at the first thing to come at you from the direction of the beer pong tables. That's right. You've gone home with a fellow assistant.

We assistants are human. We have our needs. And like any normal, young, hormonal person, we have itches that sometimes need a good scratching. Our lives aren't exactly conducive to courtship. We work long hours and can barely scrape two nickels together to buy a can of beans for dinner. Grand romantic gestures are out. And forget the stereotypical American life plan of settling down, buying a house, and popping out a couple puppies. We've got our careers to think about and real estate in LA is f-in expensive... not to mention private school tuition. It's going to be YEARS before you're ready for those steps. So instead, when temptation calls and the alcohol hits just right and throws us into that "special mood", we grab onto the closest thing available and ride it down like you'd ride a firefighter down a burning building.

One night stands can be a lot of fun and incredibly fulfilling. But there are just a couple of guidelines you should follow in order to ensure that your one night stand is pleasure, not cringe, inducing.

1. DON'T have one with anyone from work, or anyone you regularly deal with in your work day. Whether it’s your office crush or the studio exec's assistant that you speak with 10 times daily, a one night stand can never truly be contained in one night if they're constantly seeking your attention. Sex is messy (in more ways than one) and if you're dealing frequently with someone you've slept with, then feelings are going to get involved. Or, at the very least, you'll have an ill-timed shag flashback and your boss will demand to know why you're flushed and distracted. Blurring the line between your bedroom and your office is a dangerous thing to do, so approach it with caution.

2. DON'T become a frequent flier in a group of friends. It's very easy to fall in with a group of people you see socially and begin to feel at ease with them. Hell, they all like each other, so why shouldn't you like all of them? And attractive people tend to flock together - that's just a rule of physics. But pick which of them you sleep with very carefully. They'll talk and compare stories, and nobody wants to be the group bicycle. You should only allow 1 of them to take a ride. Okay, maybe 2, but only if they’re both hot. Remember that Hollywood is like high school and stories spread fast. A friend once told me about sitting in on a meeting with a bunch of execs. They were waiting on one (female) exec to show up, and while they bitched and moaned about how long she was taking, one of the guys in the room boasted about how he nailed her 10 years ago. Every other guy in the room then chimed in that they'd nailed her at one point, too. Industry folks might be able to "forget" that Sienna Miller has never had a box office hit, but they will never forget all the people they've heard you screwed. So try not to overlap by having one night stands with people who know one another.

3. DO follow up appropriately. Gents, this is more for you. There's no Miss Manners for one-nighters. You're the best judge of your situation. So if it feels right to you, then by all means offer to take your overnight guest out for a bite of brunch. It doesn't have to be the Ivy, but do her a solid and make it something a step up from the Yukon Mining Company. If you're not feeling the chemistry, then make sure that she gets home safely. You get a gold star if you drive her home yourself. Putting her in a cab is also perfectly acceptable, but always offer her cab fare. Odds are she won't take it (in which case, score! You can afford dinner tonight). Only a true douche kicks a girl to the curb without helping her find the way home. Be sensitive to others’ walk of shame anxiety. You've been there, or you will be there, so it’s a good idea to keep karma on your side.

4. DO use protection. Not to go all high school PE teacher on you, but come on guys... use a condom. Although we agree with sex goddess Tracie "Slut Machine" Egan, who says that if you're getting laid then an STD is kind of an eventuality, it's an eventuality that can at least be put off. And like I mentioned above, Hollywood is like high school. If you're spreading something around, people are going to find out. You don't want to be at El Guapo and overhear someone calling you the "Herpes King", do you? And while it's fairly easy to get rid of many crotch infestations these days, it will require that you go see your doctor for a pill or some cream, and your boss is totally going to dock you a personal day for that. Not to mention that you can't even begin to afford the biggest social disease of them all... a baby. So remember to shrink wrap your member. (A helpful message from your friends at SHAL).

We're not encouraging you to go out and have promiscuous sex. But hey, shit happens, so if you do "do it" don't feel bad about it. Just make sure you're entering the situation in the right frame of mind. Sex is natural, baby, and you know you want it. So relax, lie back, and let the good times roll.

WHERE: Full-size beds with Target sheets all over town.
COST: $17.12 for a box of 36 Trojan condoms on Amazon.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Barney's

Hollywood Assistants like Barney’s Beanery. Seriously, what’s not to like? It’s a bar that serves beer by the pitcher, has more flat screen TVs than a Best Buy and is full of Hollywood Assistants hoping to get laid. Barney’s is basically all the good things in life rolled up into one fine establishment in Los Angeles (fine, there’s also one in Santa Monica as well as in Pasadena and one is opening in Burbank soon. But for the purpose of this post we are referring to the one on Santa Monica Blvd, which is obviously the best one anyway).

I don’t know much about football or basketball or even baseball. Sure, I have favorite teams and know the basic rules of each game, but I couldn’t tell you who was in first place or what teams won Saturday’s games if it killed me. Nevertheless, I love going to Barney’s to watch said games because let’s be honest I don’t spend much time watching them at all. Rather I am drinking until I get wasted and eating until I am stuffed. The food at Barney’s is incredible. Greasy, huge proportions, it’s the best food in the world to eat while drinking. Diet Shmiet? You’re having so much fun boozing and pigging out the calories mean nothing. And sometimes it’s nice to go somewhere in LA where ordering a big, fat burger gives you no nasty grimaces.

Barney’s is so laid back it really doesn’t matter what you look like when you walk through the doors. Heels? Hell no! A tie? You want to get your ass kicked? Boys wear football jerseys and girls can wear whatever they want. Girls could wear sweatpants and still have a gaggle of guys trying to hit on them. Barney’s was made for flip flops, jeans and t-shirts. And let’s face it, while we’re in our monkey suits at our jobs all week it’s nice to be able to not care what we look like on the weekends. Human Resources won’t be on our butt for not following the proper dress code at Barney’s nor will our co-workers think we’re slutty for wearing short shorts.

The only downside to Barney’s is the lighting. It’s way too bright for a place where people incessantly try to pick up other people. That why you have to drink double. The drunker you get the hotter people become is like the number one rule in going out to meet people. Since Barney’s is so damn sunny, in order to make people more attractive drinking more is a necessity. Which is something I don’t mind…

For good beer, good food and good fun, Barney’s is the place to be. From football on the flat screens to karaoke three nights a week, this is a spot for us Hollywood Assistants to let our hair down and pretend like we’re still in college. Not only is Barney’s one of our favorite bars in the city, but it’s also a Los Angeles institution. So many famous and historic people boozed and dined there. Janis Joplin had her final screwdriver here! Now that’s something cool to tell your friends from home about your local drinking site. In a non-name dropping kind of way, of course.

WHERE: 8447 Santa Monica Blvd. Hollywood, CA 90069
COST: Cheap (just like you'll feel after giving the guy in the Raiders jersey your number)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hating on The Hills

Hollywood Assistants like hating on The Hills. Whether we love The Hills, hate The Hills or secretly love The Hills but pretend we hate The Hills, we all love hating on The Hills as Hollywood insiders who just know better.

The Hills returns for its fourth season on August 18, and so do all our reasons for hating on it (with new reasons to surely follow):

Hating on the fakeness of it all: In theory - reality stars, they're just like us. They are Hollywood assistants or interns, they live in our neighborhood and they are transitioning into this crazy place we call Hollywood at the same time we are. Running off of this theory, The Hills should be a pretty close reflection of our lives, so much so that we've all been asked from our friends back at home "Is your life EXACTLY like on The Hills or what?"

Well duh! The only difference is that we're not followed around by cameras! Pretty much every night we're out at Crown Bar or Kress (Because Goa was totally December 2007 and Area is just like, embarrassing), where we DON'T wait in line, sit at our reserved table with bottle service (that we can totally afford) and flirt with our on again off again Prince of Malibu boyfriends until 2 AM, after which we sleep for 4 hours, wake up looking perfect (thank you, live in makeup artists!), head off to work where we don't answer phones (because we're very busy recapping the night before with our office mate – no bosses in sight!) and occasionally jet off to Paris to run major events. Le duh.

The Hills is so fake that even those of us who live for a Lo attack followed by a blank Audrina stare have to hate on it. We take an arrogant joy in being able to one up America who thinks The Hills is fake, by knowing The Hills is fake. You don't really believe that Heidi was promoted from intern to director at a major entertainment conglomerate, savvy event planning friend from Chicago? Well we know this for a fact because we know someone who knows someone who works there! You don't think Audrina has an upper lip, overachieving med student friend in New York? Well we've seen her in person and we KNOW she doesn't have an upper lip (and we don't need a fancy medical degree to make that assessment). It borders dangerously on name dropping, but we know that everyone who watches the show but doesn't live in LA is entertained by our insight, so it's not quite as douchey.

So yes, we can hate ON the fact that it's fake, but we don't quite hate it. In addition to loving pointing out the fakeness, we're kind of holding out for an uncredited writer position on the show.

Hating on the (Maybe) Unpaid Advertisements: It's not the main reason why we hate on The Hills, but from time to time we like to point out what sell outs SBE, People's Revolution, Don Antonio's and The Palazzo are. The MTV producers don't even try to make the voiceover sound realistic when they add in a "Let's go to Hyde. You know, the SBE nightclub by Brent Bolthouse. Hyde is located at 8029 Sunset Blvd and open nightly from…" Ok, it doesn't go that far, but come on. Kelly Cutrone, we know you wouldn't hire Lauren or Whitney at People's Revolution if it wasn't for the air time (you'd totally hold out for Emily, the New York intern). It's laughable, but we have too much fun hating on it to actually hate it.


Hating on the Characters: While we are busy working our asses off to make a name for ourselves in this town, these clowns have built a household name for being a star of…their own lives? We star in our own lives, which, incidentally, are more interesting – where is our $50,000/episode?

Who decided that Lauren Conrad was interesting enough to have her own TV show? We need an American Idol-esque selection process the next time these reality stars are cast. At least on The Real World, MTV actively takes entries when compiling a cast so they have a basis on which to decide who the 7 most mutated social mutants are. The Hills didn't even bother. I mean, just call it "LC and the Seven Bland Dwarfs" and put their storybook names on the screen to add more entertainment: Vacant (Audrina), Dopey (Whitney), Dirty (Justin Bobby), Plastic (Heidi), Slimey (Spencer), Douchey (Brody) and Bitter (Lo). Actually that would make for a great children's cautionary tale book…


We love hating on LC and her posse of self absorbed lame-os, but we can't actually hate them. Consider, for a moment, how important you think you are. Now imagine if over 3 million viewers a week agreed with you, not to mention all the weekly entertainment magazines and club bouncers in Hollywood. If being Bitter the Scrunch Faced Dwarf allowed me to pull in bank and navigate Hollywood effortlessly, I sure wouldn't change it, and I'd agree with America that yes, my life is important enough to be aired for more seasons than My So Called Life.

So love it or hate it, the majority of our Tivos are set to record the upcoming episodes, and we're ready to hate on it for another season. Bring in the clowns.

WHERE: A new season of tears, highly edited facial longing and cat fights returns to MTV on August 18 at 10:00 PM.
COST: A half hour and several brain cells each week

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Margaritas

Hollywood Assistants like margaritas. After a hard day of rolling calls and picking up dry cleaning, there's nothing better than unwinding with a cold drink. These drinks are most satisfying when they are full of alcohol. Because while Diet Coke is delicious, it doesn't take the edge off quite like liquor. One of the best of these drinks is the margarita. Whether it be blended, on the rocks, with salt, or fruit flavored, margaritas are delicious, cheap, and damn strong. I've never met a margarita I didn't like.

Not only are margaritas cold and refreshing, but they also have one of the highest alcohol contents of any drink (besides an actual shot or Long Island Iced Tea, but let's face it we're not in college anymore and can't hold our liquor like we used to). If you want to get very drunk and very drunk very fast then margaritas are the way to go. You have to drink a whole lot of beer to achieve the level of tipsiness in just one margarita. On our paychecks this comes in handy.

One of the greatest parts about living in Los Angeles is the abundance of Mexican food. And luckily with Mexican food comes margaritas. Mexican restaurants are like 7/11s in LA. They're basically on every corner. And like 7/11s, Mexican restaurants have low-priced liquor, not many English speaking people and always a loud group of drunk people.

My personal favorite place in LA for margaritas is El Carmen. This location is loud, dark and always crowded. I can drink El Carmen's margaritas like they're water (which has often gotten me into a lot trouble). But hey, after two of them here I'm like a college girl on spring break. Third Street is my Cancun. Come find me, Joe Francis.

You can't talk about margaritas in LA without talking about the Cantinas. Fiesta and Cabo, I mean. Fiesta Cantina is located in the heart of WeHo on Santa Monica and Cabo Cantina is located on the Sunset Strip (there's also one on Wilshire in Brentwood but that location is better for 'stuff UCLA students like'). You can guess the clientele at each. While both attract different customers, there's one thing similar: 2 for 1's. 2 margaritas for the price of 1! Can you effing believe that? It's like we're back home in New Jersey or something. It's insane. I think 2 for 1's is actually Spanish for belligerence. There's no way you can put 2 of these bad boys back without becoming really wasted. All I can say to that is: we so deserve it.

While the ladies of Sex and the City had Cosmos and the ad execs of Mad Men have Tom Collins, us Hollywood Assistants have margaritas. While we're not fancy enough for gimlets yet not unrefined enough for Mike's Hard Lemonade, margaritas are the perfect compromise. I blame it on Los Angeles for making it so damn easy for us to drink these awesome concoctions so frequently. But really, they're the drink of our people. Because while we might be uptight and diligent minions at work, come weekend (or Happy Hour) with the help of a margarita or two we become ourselves: drunk yuppies just waiting to be rich enough to drink bellinis.

WHERE: Our absolutely favorite, El Carmen 8138 W 3rd St Los Angeles, CA 90048
COST: Around $9. Or $25 for a blender and $15 for a bottle of tequila for the at home version

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Grove


Hollywood Assistants like The Grove. After "The Great Quake" of 2008, we discussed amongst ourselves a meeting place for our friends should the end of the world appear imminent again. This place needed to be within walking distance, because lord knows that the amount of Two Buck Chuck we'd consume if the earth were to shake again would render us unable to drive anywhere. And it needed to have at least the bare necessities to help us put together a new world after an apocalyptic quake (or at least put together a substantial party after a minor shake). We had it narrowed down to Whole Foods and The Grove when the debate began.

If Whole Foods was the emergency meeting place and therefore the origin of our brave new world, we supposed the world would be organic, Utopian, overpriced and healthy. Sounds logical. But The Grove has a farmers' market, so that could sustain us, and several moderately priced restaurants, as most of us never cook. Whole Foods has that great pre-made food section, but The Grove has movies, and we need entertainment. Whole Foods has the vitamins and wine selection necessary to give us the strength to rebuild LA, but if the quake was substantial enough to result in looting, we’d much rather be by Nordstrom and the Apple store. As visions of iPhones danced in our heads, a winner was declared.

The Grove fills the gap in our life that was left when we moved away from the suburbs, and therefore the old school malls with Gaps, Food Courts, and Mall Rats. There are no Mall Rats at the Grove. It’s a bizarro version of the mall, really, because there are only a few stores, and they’re all outside. Outside! Damn, Los Angeles, you crazy. We find ourselves traversing between our affordable past and our out of reach future as we peruse the pricey offerings at the Todd Goldman Gallery while eating a Wetzels Pretzel, drinking Coffee Bean and carrying our most recent purchase: something we could almost afford at Nordstrom’s semi-annual sale.

Although it pales in comparison to the Arclight Theater, The Grove movie theater is still old school classic. Sure, it’s missing the assigned seating aspect that keeps us coming back and overpaying at the Arclight, but it has the ushers in those silly uniforms and ridiculous hats that make us feel better about our own jobs. They just look so miserable wearing a hat with a chin strap that it never fails to bring a smile to my face. You’re also bound to see at least one person you work with on a date with someone you had no idea they were dating, making for an entertaining AND informative outing.

We’re not sure if it can technically be considered part of The Grove, but The Farmer’s Market is yet another quirky draw to our Grove happy place. Where else, other than Super Wal-Mart, can one purchase fresh produce after buying a new outfit? Hidden within the labyrinth of produce and meat are the unexpected gems of Pinkberry, a bar (because grocery shopping is stressful), and a Starbucks. Any institution that has a Starbucks AND a Coffee Bean is top notch in our book. Now if only The Grove could open a Dunkin Donuts…

Whereas the Beverly Center has a greater variety of shopping, The Grove is still the preferred destination. It is the Disneyland to the Beverly Center’s Six Flags. Sure Six Flags has more rides, but Disneyland is cleaner, prettier and snows at Christmastime. Beverly Center is where one goes to shop. The Grove is where one goes to experience. You don’t even need to shop to love The Grove. We’ve spent hours watching the fountain vacillate to the tunes of crappy soft rock while writing on a bench. While finishing the great American coming of age novel at The Grove would be an ideal side effect, really we’re just hoping a few fellow (trust funded male) assistants will see us, sweep us off our feet for a slow dance in front of the fountain, and ask us to marry them because they was so inspired by their surroundings. Is it possible to have a wedding at The Grove…?

Snapping out of our Grove wedding fantasy for a moment, let’s take a moment to appreciate the role The Grove has played in transitioning many of us former north easterners or mid westerners into our first non-winter in LA. As the Christmas season approaches and we’re calling foul on the ironic takes on Santa in Hawaiian shorts lawn ornaments throughout our neighborhoods (We don’t care if it’s hot, Santa, put your daiquiri down, get your velvet suit on and pull yourself together, man!), The Grove brings us snow. Snow and a bizarre dance show with fake Rockettes and children dressed up as presents, all to familiar Christmas tunes, taking place between the iconic movie theater marquee and the aforementioned marriage fountain. We don’t know if it’s Faith Hill singing Christmas Carols, the dancing fountain or the chemically enhanced snow, or the memory of The Hills Season One Christmas Episode, but something about it every year brings a tear to our eyes. And it’s nightly! So anytime you need a winter fix to go along with your Wetzels Pretzel, The Grove is there for you.

In most of our minds, The Grove is an LA institution that has been here as long as the Hollywood sign. Apparently, it didn’t open until 2002. But that’s the great thing about The Grove – it’s our generation’s Hollywood sign. When we have friends visiting from out of town, that’s what we take them to see (“I swear, Tom Hanks shops at THIS Forever 21!”). It’s our tolerable tourist attraction, it’s our mall, it’s our playground, it’s our rock. So, if when the earth shakes again, swing by Whole Foods to pick up some wine and meet us by the Fountain. It may be the end of the world as we know it, but our guess is that the poor man’s Bellagio fountain will still be dancing to the tunes of Phil Collins, and that’s the basis on which we should rebuild LA.

WHERE: 189 The Grove Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90036
COST: Anywhere from the $3 parking fee (with validation) to a new iBook.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Open Bars

Hollywood Assistants like open bars. Operating under the same logic that causes me to carry that unattractive bag I was swagged back in 2007, we will drink a selection of thoroughly inconsumable cocktails, as long as they are free. Hpnotiq and Monster? What a bright color, I'll take one! X-rated and Vitamin Water? Sounds healthy, a round of that please. p.i.n.k. carbonated caffeinated vodka and Jolt? I can't think of a better way to jump start an evening. For a group of people who rarely order a cocktail without specifying a top shelf liquor that we can't afford, the open bar is the one time it's socially acceptable to drink – yikes is that Gold Schlager and HiC? – anything the bartender will pour. In our defense, if you saw our paychecks or knew our bosses, you'd understand us getting intoxicated off of free Hi-sChlagers.

Throughout the years, we've become experts in the world of open bars, and have separated them into categories, noting the pros and cons of each:

The Early Bird Special. The Early Bird Special is perhaps the most dangerous of all Hollywood Open Bars. An invite for an otherwise cash bar event will have that small line we all zoom in on "Cocktails compliments of [insert undrinkable liqueur here] from 9-10!" Though fashionably late was invented in California, we have never been fashionably late to an early bird special open bar. In fact we've never been just on time: we're typically circling around the block 10 minutes early until we see the check in table go up. Everyone knows by 9:30 that bar is going to be swamped, and by that time we better have a table full of drinks to last us through the night.

Pro: Great excuse to leave work early. Or...great excuse to make up a better excuse to leave work early.

Con: Oddly not that we drink less…because we sure don't. It's that we try to do all of our drinking for the night in that hour…and there is a HUGE difference between five drinks throughout a four hour party and five drinks the first hour of the four hour party. This knowledge conveniently slips our mind in that hour, and generally returns the next morning as we wake up somewhere next to someone with an equal appreciation of open bars and an equally raging hangover.

Good Behavior Bars: In a world where we mix business with booziness, we find ourselves straddling the fun/appropriate line far too often, especially at Good Behavior Bars. Commonly found in networking events, your boss's charity fundraiser or the local alumni receptions, the alcohol here is meant to act as a social lubricant and ice breaker, and not necessarily as a means to the end of your inhibitions. It's important to distinguish ahead of time if an open bar is, in fact, a good behavior bar, as it will ultimately affect the overall consumption strategy.

Pro: If done correctly, you can leave this open bar with a good buzz and an expanded network.

Con: We never do this correctly, and leave pretty wasted with depleted credibility.

The All Nighter. The Mecca of open bars brings us more glee than Christmas and Hanukkah combined. We've toasted couples who probably shouldn't be together because of the free champagne at their weddings. We've rallied behind charities for just about everything if saving the rainforest means knocking back free drinks. We might have found ourselves at a Republican fundraiser because the GOP knows how to party. Point is, even the crappiest event is delightful when you close your tab and the cost is free.

Pro: Have you been to an All Nighter?

Con: Have you woken up the morning after an All Nighter?

In a city with some form of gallery opening, restaurant tasting, movie premiere, product launch or networking event happening every night of the week, it's important to be versed in open bar etiquette. Here are a few rules we try to follow as we work our way through the world of free alcohol:

1. Just because the drink is free, doesn't mean the bartender is working any less hard. Always have a good number of small bills to tip the bartender for each drink. If the $1/drink tipping cost is adding up too much for you, you might have a problem and should avoid any and all open bars.

2. Never, ever, EVER order just one drink. I don't care if you're just ordering for yourself – you have two hands and you shouldn't wait for last call to use both of them.

3. Pace yourself. Even though some open bars are time prohibitive, the cost of the couple drinks you bought after the open bar was over is a small price to pay to avoid an open bar hangover.

4. Be cool. Even if it's your first open bar (what are you, an intern?), you want it to appear that you can – and do – go to an open bar event every night. While overconsumption is inevitable, just please try to avoid taking "to go" cups of open bar swag.

WHERE: la.openbar.com
COST: One raging Hypnotiq hangover.

Trader Joe's

Hollywood Assistants like Trader Joe’s. The economy blows, gas prices are ridiculously high, and you’re still trying to eek by on $8/hour. Sure, you’re above the poverty line, but you’re not really bringing home the bacon. It’s more like bringing home the ramen. Thankfully, there’s a grand emporium that was made for people like you.

If Whole Foods (*cough* Whole Paycheck) is Neiman Marcus, then Trader Joe’s is Target. With affordable prices and a wide and often delightfully surprising selection, TJ’s is one-stop shopping for the average Hollywood Assistant on a budget. And as if that’s not enough, TJ’s is chock full of options that even the biggest kitchen dummy can manage to cook. Guys, if you want to really impress a lady by making her dinner, forget the standard spaghetti and Ragu combo and head to the frozen food aisle. Pick up frozen tempura for the appetizer, goat cheese frozen pizza for the entree, a key lime pie for dessert and you’ll have her undying affection forever…or at least for tonight. But hey, this is Hollywood… you’re not looking for a commitment, right?

But, let’s be honest, the real reason most people go to TJ’s is for the wine selection. At the most basic level, you’ve got your Charles Shaw, aka Two Buck Chuck. It comes in five varietals: chardonnay, merlot, shiraz, cabernet, and sauvignon blanc. It actually retails for $1.99, making it one of the cheapest wine you’ll be able to find anywhere. My friend Chuck can be a little inconsistent… sometimes you get a great bottle and sometimes you get something less than stellar. But please, it’s not like my palate is exactly advanced. And you rarely taste the wine when you chug it.

If you want to really impress your friends, pick up another bottle of something a little nicer for your next game night, dinner party, or pre-game. If you remember to take off the price tag they’ll never have to know it’s from TJ’s. Personally I like to choose wines the way I choose my men: whoever looks the cutest is going home with me. But so many wines carried by Trader Joe’s have really cute labels, so sometimes I face an agonizing decision. Happily, at $4-$6 a bottle, I can justify buying 2…or 3… or 4 bottles.

So if your wallet is feeling especially tight while we’re riding out this latest economic bump and you're counting the days until the start of Obamanomics, stop in at Trader Joe’s. You’ll find lots of budget-friendly options to liven up your normal mac & cheese/Lean Cuisine/canned soup routine. And if money woes have really got you down, pick up a couple of bottles of vino and drink until you can’t remember that you’re in the red anymore.

WHERE: Various locations all over LA. Our personal fave is the one at 3rd & La Brea.
COST: Cheaper than Whole Foods.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Office Crushes

Hollywood Assistants like office crushes. Los Angeles is not very conducive to dating. When your choices for meeting possible suitors are Happy Ending and El Guapo, it becomes apparent that your dating life might need to take a backseat to your career. I mean that’s why we all moved to LA in the first place, right? Unfortunately somewhere along our trip west on route 40 we forgot about our love lives.

Enter office crushes. Nothing makes a day go by faster than having someone to crush on at work. After answering phone after phone and scheduling meeting after meeting, there’s something extraordinarily satisfying about seeing someone you like while you’re doing your menial job. It makes the mundane less mundane and the shitty less shitty. Being able to work in close proximity to that certain someone if just for a few minutes a day makes things at least a little better.

Sometimes office crushes turn into more. Nearly one in three people indulge in an interoffice romance (or so says some random internet article I found on the subject). We don’t know if this includes drunken make out sessions on the weekend, casual sex in the copy room before the bosses come in or an official relationship where you change your, omg!, relationship status on Facebook. I guess it could be a combination of all three. Although, all three can be treacherous. You don’t want to turn your office crush into the ex-boyfriend you hate. Or into the guy who gave you the clap. You also don’t want to become the ‘jealous’ one at work. To your coworker, it was just a hook up, to you, it was destiny. So unless you truly believe you’ve met the future mother or father of your children, you need to take an office romance with a grain of salt. The morning after a drunken hook up with your cubicle mate could be very, very awkward.

But really? Where else are you supposed to meet someone? Ralphs? People only meet people at grocery stores in the movies. LA Fitness? No one would ever want to date me after seeing me sweat. Blvd 3? I’d rather die alone. So therefore we really are sometimes forced to find love at the office; whether it be an innocent crush on the second assistant or a full blown affair with the guy from the mailroom. We’re young and therefore allowed for some hot and heavy office flirting. However, you need to be laid back and not stress about it. Because then it will get in the way of your work. And there’s nothing worse than being heartbroken AND jobless. Also, be selective when choosing who to crush on and who to go after. The last thing you want is the reputation of office bicycle.

WHERE: Offices all over the city
COST: Dignity, self-respect, but hey at least you're getting some

Friday, August 1, 2008

New York

Hollywood Assistants like New York. LA got you down? Tired of sitting in your car for 45 minutes every day to make a 3 mile commute? Terrified that last week’s earthquake was just the precursor to The Big One? Annoyed that every time you try to go shop at the Grove, you must contend with crowds of paparazzi tailing Posh Spice? (Well, it could be worse… The Hills could be shooting there today.)

Then cash in a vacation day or two and hightail it out east. Hollywood Assistants love getting in touch with the “real” world by spending a few days on the gritty streets of New York City. An amazing thing happens the moment you step foot on the sidewalks of NY: you remember you have legs. And that sometimes, legs are meant to be used for walking. In LA I drive to the Ralph’s across the street from my apartment. But in New York, I will gladly walk from Amsterdam & 81st to 34th & 1st Ave. The whole experience is so wondrous to me that I end up prancing down the street like Belle in the opening song from Beauty & the Beast. “Bonjour, good day, Hot Dog Vendor! Aren’t we having a lovely morning, bum?”

LA has its strengths, but NY unquestionably has us beat in a number of categories. First and foremost, you don’t have to drive there. I realize that this is the most obvious point ever. But as someone with a serious love/hate relationship with my car, being anywhere where we don’t have to worry about DD’s, DUI’s, and any other annoying car issue that also begins with a D is a huge plus. Cab, subway, bus, walking, whatever – no matter how many cocktails you down at happy hour, nobody is piloting themselves home. (Unless you have a friend who rides a bike…but that’s just weird.)

NY also has us beat when it comes to food. LA’s taco trucks, fresh seafood, and endless authentic Asian food outposts are all great, don’t get us wrong. But an H&H bagel on a Saturday morning is pretty close to heaven. Bagel Broker is a fine approximation, but even on their best day they don’t come close. Then there’s the pizza, hot dogs, falafel, etc., etc., etc. I’m in a food coma just thinking about it all.

And maybe it’s just me, but NY feels like it is 100x more social than LA. My friends who live in the city are NEVER home. Part of this is probably due to the fact that their bedrooms could fit in my bathtub. If my living space clocked in at under 200 square feet and I could easily walk to 500 bars, I would probably be out drinking martinis every night, too. So maybe I’m just a tad propagandized from growing up with Sex & the City and my current obsession with Gossip Girl. And perhaps I’m a little disappointed that my LA isn’t the same as the LA featured on Melrose Place, The Hills, or Entourage. But everything just seems so much prettier in NY. And real pretty… not like fake-LA pretty. NYC doesn’t have breast implants and hasn’t had a brow lift. NYC is a natural beauty.

But just when I’m packing my boxes and putting all of my furniture on Craig’s List, I remember how much easier it is to live in LA than NY on an assistant’s salary. And then I remember all of the freezing cold winters I suffered through in college and how I swore, as God is my witness, I would never wear a down coat again. LA can be annoying, but come on…. When it’s 75 and sunny on February 1st, what else can you possibly have to complain about? So I’m not shelving NY forever. Just until I reach the point in my career when I can afford a fabulous apartment and an amazing outerwear wardrobe. Until that day, LA will do.

WHERE: 3000 miles away
COST: $350-$400 roundtrip, if you can get a good fare.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lifers

Hollywood Assistants like lifers. Career assistants are a staple of any major entertainment powerhouse. Most major “name” execs have one and would be lost without them. Lifers are old school and usually make regular assistants look like lazy schlubs. They have excellent phone manners, can type a pristine letter (and on a typewriter, to boot), and know the correct way to set a meeting. (In case you’re wondering, that would be getting avails from the most powerful person first.)

Lifers can sometimes be a little… how should we put this… cantankerous? Their patience is worn thin due to many years of babysitting people who really should be able to do certain things for themselves. They aren’t ever going to agree to getting drinks with you, and even asking them is a rookie mistake and an automatic red flag that you are greener than the Jolly Green Giant. And they definitely aren’t going to make chit-chat with you. They might shoot the shit with your boss (after all, they’ve been dealing with each other for years) – but they for sure aren’t going to do the same with you. You are interchangeable as far as they’re concerned. They might not even expend the energy to learn your name because they know a new you will be coming along in 12 months.

But lifers are incredible resources and depthless fonts of knowledge. They are walking history books for a company. They can tell you all you need to know about past deals, projects, clients, materials, etc. They know all of the gossip on the execs, so if you ever get in good with one, you can get some really great dirt out of them. And they are well-connected. They’re buddy-buddy with the maitre-d at every major restaurant in town and can help you get a Friday 8:00 reservation for your junior agent boss who wants to impress his current ingénue girlfriend. In addition, the lifer network is expansive, so they’re often the first to hear when a really great desk opens up. If they really like you, they might even make a personal recommendation on your behalf (and trust us, their opinion means a lot.) And best of all, their cabinets are chock full of screeners, so they can be like your own personal Netflix (their boss is a member of the Academy, but is helpless when it comes to technology so he rarely takes the DVDs home).

Lifers can be tough nuts to crack, but getting on their good side can prove to be an invaluable experience for the average Hollywood assistant. They’re like a delicious crab leg dinner at Red Lobster. Sure, it’s a pain in the ass to get through the tough shells and you might even hurt yourself in the process. But once you hit the meat, all your hard work pays off and you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.

WHERE: Outside the really big office… you know the one. It probably has its own bathroom.
COST: Patience and perseverance.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Earthquakes

Hollywood Assistants like earthquakes. Well, maybe like is the wrong word. Fascinated is more accurate because anything that disrupts a Tuesday and puts the office in a tailspin is okay with us.

Being from the suburbs of New York we would be let out of school the minute there was any sign of snow. Now I live in LA and the earth just FUCKING MOVED and yet I have not been sent home. While our bosses panic about their kids, dogs, spouses and homes, I sit in my office worried that my Ikea furniture might not have survived the quake of '08 (I really should have followed those instructions better!).

Hollywood Assistants stay strong. We’re assuming everyone is safe because of the overwhelming Facebook and Gchat status messages. Told you they were good for something.

Be prepared: http://www.fema.gov/hazard/earthquake/eq_during.shtm

LOCATION: From Chino (Ryan is safe!) to Santa Monica, Santa Barbara (is the wine ok??) to San Diego
COST: What doesn't kill us only makes us stronger, right?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Facebook

Hollywood Assistants like Facebook. This one is an obvious one. And one we probably should have done a long time ago. But really, we Hollywood Assistants don't just like Facebook, we are addicted to it. The day is a waste if we don't acquire at least one new friend or get sent an application request. Helping your boss sell a script to Universal is horseplay compared to the extremely hard work that goes in to beating your college roommate at Scrabulous.

Facebook is awesome for us Hollywood Assistants for many reasons. One reason: stalking. Another reason: stalking. And finally: stalking. Fine, maybe it's not actually stalking per se, but what else do you call looking at your office crush's pictures from Cabo? Or constantly checking the relationship status of the guy you made out with at the JHRTS holiday party? One of my favorite activities is looking up people I talk to on a daily basis for work. It's always nice to put a face and favorite quote to a voice. Never would I have thought that the assistant I set up a notes call with at Dreamworks loved all things Harry Potter and was looking for Random Play!

Facebook is really changing the way we Hollywood Assistants are living our lives. We're constantly checking our profiles for new wall comments and making sure only flattering pictures get tagged. There's nothing wore than an ugly picture of you drunk on the floor of St. Nick's hitting the world wide web. That shit'll haunt you for life.

It's fair to say all our lives were shook upside down when our bosses signed up for Facebook. How did the playground for Hollywood Assistants suddenly turn into supervised recess? Soon we were forced to remove "slave" from our work info and put the show we work on as our favorite television program. Or worse, we went unsearchable. To me going unsearchable is a cop out. You're not elusive or cool. You're literally just an unclickable question mark. If you really want certain people not to see your profile go private or my favorite: limit profile! You can block certain people from seeing your inappropriate “about me” section or the super embarrassing groups you belong to (an entire group dedicated to people who share your first name, way cool). It's fool proof. Also, Facebook really is the only respectable networking site online. Friendster? So 2003. MySpace? OMG. I went on MySpace the other day and it was like going to the old mall after the new mall opened up in town. It was still breathing but just barely.

There's never a reason to be bored with Facebook. It allows for hours and hours of stalking fun. From stalking old high school friends you lost touch with or messaging with your college BFFs to plan a reunion or browsing your newest crush’s photos trying to decipher if the girl in all his pictures is a friend or lover, Facebook knows no limits. But just be careful though because while Facebook provides endless amounts of fun you’re only just a click away. And really, we're judging your activities and favorite music.


WHERE: http://www.facebook.com - don't lie it's your homepage
COST: Free or years of therapy when you learn the love of your life went from "single" to "in a relationship"