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The Sharks Vs. The Dolphins

Part of: Guest Bloggers , Hollywood

Assistant/Atlas' Breakfast : 4 Cups of Coffee, 1 Bottle of Gatorade (melon), 1 Packet of Glazed Donut Holes, 5 cigarettes (Parliament Lights).

I'm so excited to be doing a guest blog for the illustrious blogebrity of my heart, Tiffany A. Stone. I've admired Tiffany since I started blogging a few months back and this guest blog does constitute the fulfillment of yet another blog dream. Since Tiffany requested an insider-ish story, I thought I'd talk about my recent visit to two of the Big agencies here in Ho'wood.

The two thinly-veiled agencies represent what I see as the not-too-wide ends of the spectrum of Ho'wood Big Agencies in terms of typical Ari Gold-like behavior. The first is the home of the Sharks, infamous agent poachers and accused of the most assholish monkey business in the biz. Then there's the agency I'll call the Dolphins. While certainly never accused of being actually creative by any means, they do have a less sharky/more nurturing attitude, considering they're a horrible faceless evil corporation.

When I arrived at the underground valet spot for Shark Agency, the thirty-something Latino valet was just bringing up a Lexus SUV for a forty-something white guy suit with a cell attached to his ear. The last thing he said before shutting his door was: "So he'd be playing a superhero/Jesus sort of character?"

I felt obligated to say that I stepped out of my small, badly-in-need-of-a-wash American family sedan, handing him the keys,"Um, sorry my car isn't. . .uh, as nice as the ones you usually drive."

The valet looked me in the eye and said, "Hey that's okay" with a nice flicker of a smile.

When I entered the easier-to-find parking garage of Dolphin Agency, I managed to take a wrong turn and circle the garage before I found the valet point. The chatty-with-each-other valets were accusatory: "Are you here for a job interview?" Since I was, I took the elevator to the lobby under their sneers.

Fun fact: I didn't learn until later that my car still had a Shark Agency valet tag under my windshield wipers. So, suck it, Dolphin.

At the Shark Agency, I was reasonably wowed by the lobby. Granted, the lack of indoor fountains was depressing, but hey, cool Pop Art.

The Dolphin lobby is a glorified hallway. And there's seating for like, what, six people? Shark Agency has comfortable seats for at least fifteen, plus loads of extra space.

The Shark Agency's receptionists were definitely preferable to the Dolphin set-up. They were nice and seemed charmed by my cool tie and nice suit jacket and my explanation for my early arrival-- "I planned for traffic, but traffic was just. . . amazing." They pointed me toward coffee, offered me a seat, were nice when I asked where the bathroom was, etc.

The first Dolphin receptionist I talked to was reasonably nice, though her Uhura-like phone headgear made it hard to know if she was talking to me or to her phones. But I took my seat among other interviewees. Here, too, was a difference. The only, literally only people to be kept waiting at either place were assistant candidates.

Sitting at the Shark Agency, I noticed a proliferation of non-threateningly attractive people trotting about. They were the baby sharks who sprinkled their days with strategic office-related chatting and talking on cell phones incessantly. There were also a few actors waiting for their agents.

While I waited at Dolphin, two white guy's from the mailroom aka assistant's-in-training replaced the regular receptionists and looked overwhelmed. So the guy I gave my completed application to looked harried and said he'd notify HR I was here. I watched laid-back cuspy-thirty-somethings use the phrase "Dude, seriously" while waiting for the elevator. Ugh, and they only had "The Hollywood Reporter" and a few issues of "Premiere" in the lobby. What self-respecting superagency doesn't have "Variety?"

The other assistants waiting for interviews at both places were hot young women in business suits. At Shark, they surreptitiously measured up the competition, so I just puffed up my model lips, clenched my jaw, stared vacantly back and ate them alive in my head. The ones at Dolphin didn't seem angry or aggressive, just kinda. . .nice. But in that kinda boring, average way. One actually attempted a conversation with me in the lobby just before my interview. I tried not to be seen talking to her, but the HR guy saw me blowing her off. Which I guess was bad, but she started it. This interviewee was wearing huge magenta hoop earrings and a shiny light pink top. And bad hair--really bad hair. She made me feel good about my job prospects, though, overall.

The interviews themselves were a revelation for my Sharks Vs. Dolphins theory. Sharks HR has no window. I would guess that most of the offices at Sharks don't have windows (except VIPs, of course). They want their office monkeys clinging to their phones in a desperate attempt to make sure the world is still there around them.

But at Dolphin, you can just look out the window for proof of the world's existence. Am I making the differences clear enough?

The interviews couldn't have been more different. The Sharks HR interview is an introduction to HollyHell. Let's just say that the word(s) "thick-skinned" was/were used at least five times. The interview was mostly me nodding, then remembering to stop nodding at some points, only to nod again vigorously when HR honcho launched into a new point.

The Dolphin HR interview, that was much more all about me. It was "what I would like from Dolphin" and "what I wanted to do here". In the Dolphin HR meeting, I never heard "thick-skinned" once. Not once. That's when I started to worry.

Look, I know what I'm getting into by swimming in the Ho'wood assistant ocean. And I know I'm not supposed to end sentences with a preposition. But the thing is, I don't want to work for either of you, Sharks or Dolphins. Not only is your pay not that good, but I'm not sure you're what I'm looking for in terms of sanity-to-productivity ratio. I prefer something more balanced.

Oh, I'll have those second meetings with you, Sharks and Dolphins. After all, I could find a cool blue whale of pop culture goodness for a boss in one of the agencies, but ultimately I want a non-crazy and a non-lazy boss. Hell, give me Entourage's Ari Gold, I can handle someone who just needs someone to be on top of their sh*t. After all, I'm an assistant, I can handle just about anything. But remember, I am a person, too. And there's only so much I--and I pray "we"--will stand for. So, behave, please, bosses. We'll be better assistants if you let us be human beings, I promise. Thanks.

Yours Truly,


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