My former assistant Crispy called me today to ask for help finding an entertainment lawyer to represent a new TV project he's working on. Crispy left the business over two years ago to become a pharmaceutical salesman. And by "pharmaceutical salesman" I mean "sales rep for a multinational conglomerate," not "crack dealing corner boy." And by "left the business" I mean "stopped earning minimum wage for the privilege of working in the film industry 80 hours a week and started working a normal 9 to 5 job so he actually has time to write the great American screenplay and afford to eat meat more than once every two weeks." Ironically, he actually gets more writing done as what The Daily Variety terms a "non-pro" than he ever did as a Hollywood denizen. We set a lunch so I can listen to his pitch for a half-hour comedy series he developing and hear what it's like to make a lot of money working just 40 hours a week.
Crispy asks me how I'm weathering the strike and I give him a brief audit of my life:
1. My house currently looks like a crime scene because I've been selling off my belongings piece by piece to pay for flashy things like property taxes and car insurance.
2. I am more than sure that several of my friends suspect that I have a drug problem because as the months go by, my house gets emptier and emptier as my definition of the term "necessary object" gets narrower and narrower. I'm sure the producers of "Intervention" will be calling me any day now to sign my junkie ass up.
3. My whole life is on sale. Today my friend Jane called to tell me that she recognized the Jadite dinner set that I'd posted anonymously on Craigslist as the one she'd given to me as a gift. That's not embarrassing or anything.
Lunch is on Crispy.
After we hang up, a horrible thought pops into my head:
"What constitutes working in the industry?" Like the old Crispy, if you add up all the 80 hour weeks I've worked at being a Hollywood producer in the last year, it works out that I'm earning less than minimum wage. If I haven't made a movie in over a year and have even stopped getting unemployment, can I really call myself a producer? At what point does my dream job just become a really expensive hobby?
I get Crispy a lawyer.