Post by Trai Cartwright
First off, we say Happy Holidays, not Merry Christmas. I hope I don’t have to explain why.
Plans for the holiday begin mid-November. The boss is getting ready to disappear for three weeks to some trendy all-inclusive resort (no one but assistants and salary workers are in the office from Dec. 20 to Jan. 3rd. Period.). Holiday cards must be ordered and address lists updated, an astonishingly time-consuming process when you’ve got 400 (or 1,200) cards to send out. And don’t talk to me about the ordering of gift baskets. The gift basket industry goes supernova in LA for the holidays. Who you are on the ladder of Hollywood is determined by the size of the gift basket you receive, sure, but also the ones you give. And for the serious players, we’re talking Tiffany and live trees.
Does anyone eat the peanut brittle, the exotic Scandanavian caviar spreads, the black pepper crackers from England? You bet – the assistants do. Just like all the other perks in the film industry, the longer you’ve been around, the less enamored you are by the trappings. The trickle-down theory goes into effect, and the low man on the totem pole is suddenly the richest person in town – oh, if chocolate-covered espresso beans and robust red wines from Australia were currency.
And that’s just the stuff that gets passed from office to office. Let me tell you about the parties.
Of course there’s the private parties, and those are great, those are fun, those are sometimes illegal, but it was the studio parties that I always looked forward to. Every studio shuts down their “back lot” (where the building facades that look like NYC / ancient Greece / The OK Corral live), decorates it like a huge festival and then welcomes their hundreds of employees +1s for a night of welcome (and free) celebration.
Of course there’s food and drink every three feet, but there’s more, more more.
I’ve been on the Universal back lot when strolling choirs, each with a different theme, sang on every corner. The best was the 50-person gospel choir who assembled on the very stairs where Marty McFly sparked up his time-machine off the City Hall clock. We all gathered on the astro-turf town square and let the soulful sounds melt away our jaded, hipster attitudes.
I’ve been on the Fox lot when they had bands in four different tents, a sushi and a stir-fry and a pasta bar. Not to mention the faux casino gaming; it was the only time the executives found themselves laying down their big Fox “bucks” next to the maintenance engineers. Guess who usually won? Turns out janitors can play 21 like nobody’s business.
And forget about Disney: they just shut down Disneyland for their employees. Sweet were the holidays when I’d ride the Indiana Jones ride over and over and over again --no line to wait in. Just me and my Disney pals, eating free churros and waiting for the fireworks to explode over the snow they trucked in just for Main Street.
It’s the land of fantasy, folks, and we carried on at the holidays like you’d expect us to. We gave incredibly because, yes, it gave us joy, but also because it didn’t hurt (most of the gifts were expensed). We accepted with glee, too. Because who doesn’t love free pasta bars and peanut brittle, the sound of funk-ified holiday songs cranking out of a live band’s amplifiers on 11, the feel of fake snow under your stilettos, and raising a glass with all my magic-making movie friends, each of us aglow with genuine holiday cheer?
What was the best holiday party you’ve ever been to?