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The Mailroom: Hollywood History from the Bottom Up by [Rensin, David]
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The Mailroom: Hollywood History from the Bottom Up Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Length: 464 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Rensin (coauthor, Don't Stand Too Close to a Naked Man) captures the ambition, manipulative plotting and hustler mentality of a few Hollywood mailroom employees in this series of raunchy, realistic interviews with some top agents who started out in the mailroom. As with any entry-level gig, "the hours are long, the pay... abysmal." Star mailroom grads from the William Morris Agency, Creative Artists Agency, ICM and others voice conflicting views, making Rensin's book an uncompromisingly truthful tell-all of what it takes to make it in the movie biz. William Morris's Norman Brokaw recalls, "I made it a point to develop relationships early on," while Bernie Brillstein's a bit more blunt: "I kissed ass." Most of the agents admit opening up private correspondence and packages, insisting, "everybody did it." Rensin also exposes affairs with secretaries to learn company secrets, fights over use of phones that led to wrestling matches, and homophobia. Sam Haskell, William Morris's worldwide head of television, offers a different take: "Your primary power is your character and your integrity." Rensin furnishes fresh anecdotes about an embarrassed novice who didn't recognize Judy Garland, or another who believed in Marilyn Monroe despite a casting specialist calling her "just another blonde." Clashing views of Mike Ovitz, from "a superb leader" to someone who preferred "style over content" and to whom "appearances were everything," help explain Ovitz's meteoric rise and massive collapse. Most notably, Rensin shows that the road from mailroom to mogul is a rough one. The stories are amusing, intriguing and sometimes horrifying, but Rensin, to his credit, never dilutes sordid details.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Rensin's upward-mobility saga suggests that aspiring Hollywood conquistadors should start in the mailroom of a talent agency instead of hanging around soda fountains in tight sweaters, waiting to be discovered, or essaying other such fabled, fame-and-fortune-seeking ploys. Focusing on the cesspools of power behind the stars--the William Morris Agency, Creative Artists Agency, and lesser stokers of the dream machine--Rensin outlines the path to real power in filmdom by relaying the personal stories and reminiscences of the back-channel operatives who wield it. He reveals no shortages of backbiting, antisocial behavior, and power politics in the mailroom, though the place lacks the glamour usually gleaned to gild such showbiz exposes. Do readers dig the dirt on the David Geffens and Barry Dillers of the world as much as that on the Winona Ryders and Mickey Rourkes? Well, if they're money minded, they ought to. The goods Rensin's got on the likes of Michael Ovitz makes his ilk as exciting as the stars an Ovitz lucratively manipulates. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 1282 KB
  • Print Length: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (December 18, 2007)
  • Publication Date: December 18, 2007
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000XU8DBU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,494 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I'm a former talent agency trainee. I worked at one of the majors. This book tells it like it is, and I wish this book was published before my talent agency stint. If you have ever seen the show "Survivor", you can get an idea of what it's like to climb the agency, or Hollywood ladder. There are very few spots, and there many people clambering for those spots. And those people who want it the most will do whatever it takes. It's very cutthroat. An agency with 100 agents, has 100 assistants, all of whom want to be agents. Maybe 10 of them will make it. Family members of Hollywood VIP's most probably WILL get promoted to agents (but after that it's still sink or swim..you'll read the story of Peter Guber's daughter in this book...she sunk). Same goes for Harvard grads...deep Harvard connections in Hollywood. Many trainees quit. The attrition rate is huge. It's a crazy business, and nearly impossible to have a balanced life as a trainee (or agent, or for anyone else in Hollywood). It's no walk in the park for new agents either. They start with a tiny salary (although more than a trainee)and must perform or they're out.

Before going to Hollywood, be real with yourself and determine if you're cut out for it. This book gives you a good glimpse into those who make it. Unless you are highly extroverted, and an extremely high energy person, than don't choose this career. If you are a person who needs downtime to collect their thoughts, than don't choose this career. If you are a person who needs their 8 hours of sleep a night, than don't choose this career (you may never sleep again!). If you aren't a highly social person, than don't choose this career (i.e. does your phone ring off the hook in your personal life?). Are you politically savvy, or do you put your foot in your mouth?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love entertainment business books and this one does not disappoint. Unless you're in the biz, which I'm not, almost all of the names will be unfamiliar. This book has no story. It's a known fact that a way into the entertainment industry is to work in an agency's mailroom, eat sh*t, and hope for your break. This book is a series of interviews with the former mailroom attendees on the good, the bad, and the mental make-up of the wannabes struggling to get out of "mailroom jail". It's funny, informative, and one of those books you can't put down.
Many industries have a proving ground. In investment banking we put them on as a trading or sales assistant hoping they will pick up the lingo and learn on the fly. But the agency mailroom seems to be about feeding egos of senior agent's with much more screaming, yelling and attention paid to personal chores. They do mention many of the nice agents as well as the agents who were best at teaching the mailroom guys. My favorite stories are about CAA because it is next door to my favorite hotel the Peninsula and because of the Mike Ovitz aura. Mike doesn't come off particularly well in the book but partner Ron Meyer does come off as a particularly sharp and nice guy.
The positives and negatives of the mailroom run from taking your bosses stool sample in the doctor to having nude actresses answer the door. I also enjoyed the stories of the CAA mailroom which had a particularly high level of paranoia. I had met media mogul and former agent, Mike Medavoy so it was interesting seeing his son's quotes who was eventually fired due to information leaked to his father.
If you have any interest in the business side of Hollywood, you'll like this book. Other books of interest would be "Wannabe" about an MBA's attempt to succeed at the low levels of Hollywood, and Lynda Obst's book "Hello, He Lied" about her journey from journalist to producer.
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By A Customer on February 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I haven't even finished reading this book and already I love it. I know Hollywood isn't like any place else in America, and this just makes what it's like to start at the bottom in Tinseltown all the more fascinating. At the same time, these kids who went through the mailroom share much with all of us. Everyone has to start somewhere, and in the end the experience isn't all that different.
You won't believe some of the crazy stuff these kids had to endure and survive while learning how to play the game. I love the story about delivering the, uh, stool sample. And the one about how David Geffen kept from getting fired by faking a letter from UCLA saying he graduated. And the ones about hoping to deliver stuff to pretty young actresses, or crashing the company cars out of total frustration. It's endless. And mind-boggling. And really frank. A history of Hollywood also comes through. In the beginning, behind-the-scenes people got into show biz for the glamour, to rub elbows with the stars and be dazzled; then it became about the power and money and business. Or maybe it was always like that, only the perks became accessible to more than just the top layer, which is why Harvard law grads and Wharton MBAs began to forgo huge corporate salaries to push a mail cart for $400 a week -- or less. The Mailroom paints a stunning picture of ambition -- with lots of humor and humanity -- and best of all, the author just lets the people speak for themselves in this oral history. It's truly a book that shows instead of tells.
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