there is no there, there
My next agent was a sketchy guy out in the valley named Michael Z. who had just "moved on from a bigger agency to start out on his own." I soon discovered that he left Agency X (can't remember the name, dammit) because SAG had shut them down when it was learned they were spending clients paychecks. After learning this, and feeling uneasy about a few other things ("I need you to get a beeper. Oh, by the way , my friend runs a beeper company. Heres his card."), I went into his office to have a little talk. This was early in our "relationship" (theyre called relationships out here, folks) and though Im a straight-forward, hard-hitting kind of guy generally, Im a big stinkin coward when it comes to dealing with Industry Type Folk. However, I decided to lay it out on the table and make sure I wasnt getting involved with another waste-o-time agent. So I siddown and launch into a 15 minute monologue about all my feelings of unease and how my last agent was such a waste of time blah blah highly trained actor blah blah New York blah blah blah my instincts tell me youre a scumbag blah blah blah poor me blah blah blah blah. Michael Z. explains away each one of my speaking points: blah blah I was not named in the SAG action blah blah trying to help out my beeper-sellin friend blah blah but if it makes you uncomfortable blah blah really excited about working with you blah blah blah. And then he says, "And Im really glad you were man enough to come talk to me about these issues and I really feel that this is going to strengthen our relationship." I walked out of that office feeling great. Feeling like Id conquered my irrational fear of Those With Titles and Offices and (yeah, maybe they are but still ) Imaginary Associates and Cell Phones and Lunch Dates. Feeling like I had strengthened my relationship with my agent. Imagining us having a celebratory beer at the Formosa after my pilot got picked up. This was going to be great! He could help me choose projects and fend off over-anxious writers for Details and Maxim. Quietly drive me to rehab in the desert after I gonzo my Testarossa into Ben Stillers swimming pool after doing 8 pounds of cocaine and tell Variety Ive "developed a slight reliance on pain medication" after I slipped a disk while rescuing those four Mexican kids from the Los Angeles River last month. I imagined us, mere notches away from each other on Premieres Hollywood Power List and playing practical jokes on Ron Howard after he fails to get an Oscar Nomination for EdTV. In short, I felt great. I finally had an agent who respected and believed in me.
I never heard from him again. Id since moved on to another agent when I wrote the below letter (which I never sent).
This letter is to inform you that I will no longer be your client as I am signing with another agency.
I would like to point out how completely disappointed I am with you. In one of our initial meetings during which I expressed my reservations about you referring me to friends for photographs and even a pager(!), you mentioned that you thought my frankness would give us a closer relationship and that I was a "mensche" (your word, mind you) for not being afraid to be blunt. Well Michael, I dont feel youve been a man, or have treated me in a respectful, let alone up front manner. In the many months Ive been with your agency, Ive received 1 (ONE) audition. That my friend is unacceptable. I asked you early on not to waste my time if you didnt plan on sending me out. Well, you fucking wasted a lot of my time.
Incidentally, the photography session you sent me on to your "friends" was one of the single worst experiences of my professional life, and the resultant photographs were hideous. I will do my best to keep my entire theatre company (over 700 members) away from not only your friend but from your agency as well.
I know an agent gives no guarantee, but at the very least you should have been as up front with me as Ive been with you. And since you havent asked for new pictures once since I came to you, theres no way you were sending my headshots out at the "extremely high" rate you promised.
Thanks for very little.
PS: In this town they say burning your bridges is a bad idea, but you are one bridge Im happy to torch.
Well well well. I was a bit angry, wasnt I. Damn. However, I do feel strongly about the rights of artists (yes, I consider myself an artist. Piss off!) and the number of people trying to rip struggling actors (and writers, and musicians, and painters, Im sure) off, is staggering. Youd think, "bigger fish", but no. They prey on the defenseless and sad and lost. Jenny arriving from SW Missouri State on Greyhound has enough problems already - insecurity, sanity issues, a massive need for attention - that she doesnt need some dickhead former insurance salesman charging her 300 bucks for a "career counseling session" that consists of handing her a list of SAG agents and offering to get her a meeting at New Line in exchange for a half-hour of energetic fellatio. At the same time, I generally hate actors and find them to be whiney, self-obsessed, and nauseatingly dull.
Such is the paradox-ridden hell I live in.
(More on my career foibles in LA to come. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But soon enough...)