Friday, February 17, 2012

A Second Look at The Perks of Being a Hollywood +1

(Awards season is the perfect time to revisit this fun post by the very talented writer, teacher, and former Writing Bug blogger Trai Cartwright.)




One of the perks of working in Hollywood as a young person was, well, the perks. By which I mean, all the ancillary goodies that come with being a member of that wildly underpaid, highly ambitious brat pack, Young Hollywood. I could barely make rent when I first got started, but boy howdy, did I have a great lifestyle. House parties, wrap parties, premiere parties, tickets to free movies, charity concerts, Academy screeners (essentially free DVDs of award contenders), director’s panels, writers’ presentations, books based on the movie based on the book, holiday gift baskets because your boss likes white wine and it only had red wine… we had access to the glamorous life, and we got it all for free.

Most bosses in Hollywood were already bored to tears with the perks, but darn it, those party invites just keep coming. Especially when you had a development deal with a studio; they expect all their producers to come to all their premieres. A good boss passed on those invites and went home to hang out with his kids. Or, when a movie threw its wrap party, every single person who worked on it received an invite. Of course the only people who were important were the “above the line” personnel (the director, producers and biggest stars), but the folks who did clearances for legal or location scouted were invited to. And those folks got a +1.

I was forever a +1, and I was never without a +1. It was better for a young development executive to not have a significant other (as I didn’t at the time). That’s because you could barter your +1’s. For example, a friend of mine at Disney took me to the “Armageddon” wrap party where I got to see Bruce Willis and Jerry Bruckheimer sit on roped-off couches in the middle of the dance floor, creating a sort of VIP section that only the prettiest, youngest girls could access. And there seemed to be an inordinate amount of them for a wrap party.

Then the clock struck midnight and the stream of “talent” headed for the door. It was a mass exodus, a migration of the hottest starlets in Hollywood. The power players pleaded, but these girls were gone. Where? Why? My friend and I had to ask a junior studio executive for answers: the girls had been hired for three hours to make sure the stars didn’t have to spend their evening looking at the very average, very un-PYT crew. Now that the girls had been paid, they were off to their own parties.

In exchange for that very fun night, I made my Disney friend my +1 for the “Star Trek: Next Generation: First Contact” premiere. We both got weak in the knees when Jean Luc walked by at the after-party. They’d taken some space down the road from Grauman’s Chinese Theater and decked it out like a Borg ship. You read that right: the entire party was on a Borg ship. Even the wait staff was dressed as Borgs.

There were two highlights of that night: I got to stand right next to Alfre Woodard, who is a personal hero of mine. She’s almost unfathomably short, and just as gorgeous. The second was running in to a young man I’d gone on a single date with. He had turned out to be the kind of guy Hollywood is full of: only interested if you could help get their script read. When I told him I couldn’t (I was just the assistant to a talent agent at that time – not even a literary agent), he left after drinks.

By the time I attended that Star Trek party years later, I’d worked my way up to Director of Development. He’d worked his way up to serving me a drink at the bar.

Cheers!
Trai

3 comments:

Kay said...

What happens if the zombies or other creatures crashed the party?

(Seriously, what a nice come-up-pance.)

Kerrie said...

I love the idea of being a +1. Great stories--thanks for sharing.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I love great "in crowd" stories like this. It must be an awesome experience for a young person hoping to make it in the business.

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