Go To Your Room

"To Kill a Mockingbird"

Yesterday afternoon, I terminated my relationship with an important client. It was a very difficult decision to make, but it became an inevitability. It wasn’t because he wasn’t talented, employable, or recognizable. On the contrary, he was all of those things and more. I ultimately ended our working relationship due to his uncontrollably bad behavior. I had great hopes for the next stage in his career and I had worked tirelessly to help him achieve his goals. But now, as I sit here sifting through the rubble of this disaster…I’m completely exhausted from weeks of negotiating on this client’s behalf, which have now gone to waste. And, I am disheartened by my failure to recognize and aid a client who was on a downward spiral of his own doing.

There is a lesson here and I’m still trying to figure out what it is. Many questions keep coming to mind – What steps can I take to prevent my sons from becoming men who are not ruled nor ruined by their own demons? How do I impress upon them that their actions (both good and bad) will not only affect them, but greatly impact those around them? And, how do I instill enough confidence in them so that they never have to rely on their vices for strength?

I’ve tried to show Justin “right” from “wrong”, encouraged him to demonstrate acts of kindness and compassion, and I’ve demanded that Justin show respect to all those around him. Whenever Justin has misbehaved, he has been reprimanded. Even at this young age, he understands that his actions had consequences. If he did something wrong, he got sent to his room. Yet, the more I think about it, the more I realize that I don’t have the answers I’m looking for.

So, here is a note for “Future Garrett” and “Future Justin”:

Boys – Sometimes life is going to be harder than you expected it to be. It’s at those moments when you will be judged by your actions. It’s easy to be “good” when everything is going well and it’s very easy to be “bad” when the dark clouds come and nothing is going the way you expected. There will be moments when you want to run away from your problems and there will be other times when you may want to seek solace where it should not be sought. I promise you that if you stay true to your word, put your faith and trust in those people who love and support you, and stay honest  – you will never be judged poorly.

As for my former client…he is not my child. I cannot “ground” him or send him to his room without supper. I can simply say, “thank you.” Without his actions, I would not have begun to think about how to shape my boys into honorable men.

There’s No Business like Show Business

Over the past 16 years, I’ve been battered, bruised, beaten, fired, ignored, screamed at, fired again, hung up on, lied to, lied about, cursed at, had things thrown at my head, been threatened, been forced to perform an illegal (or at the very least, “morally ambiguous”) activity or two, and been left for dead by an industry that I loved. And still, after all of that, I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones. I’m still here. There are people who still trust my guidance and wisdom and somehow, I keep getting up after being knocked down. This is the true definition of “unrequited love.”

By day, I am a Hollywood Talent Manager and I am currently responsible for the careers of 25 talented, (mostly) recognizable, and (mostly) employed actors. I read scripts, make submissions, pitch clients for projects, call executives, negotiate deals, and try to stay “in the know.” At any given moment, you may see one of my clients on your favorite television shows or in a great movie. As Jerry Maguire said, “I’m the guy you don’t usually see. I’m the guy behind the scenes.”

However, I do my best to leave Hollywood at my doorstep at night before I walk into the house. I do it for a number of reasons, but most importantly – I want to keep it away from my kids as long as I can. I’ve done such a good job of this that I’m not really sure if they know what I do. All Justin knows is that I go to an office, talk to people on the phone all day and then sometimes I yell at them.

While I love what I do and I’m proud of all that I’ve accomplished, this is not what I want for Justin and Garrett. I want them to refer to the seasons as Summer, Spring, Winter, and Fall and not, Pilot Season, Development Season, Episodic Season, etc. I don’t want them to know what a Kardashian is or think that there is any legitimate value in “fame.” Several years ago, I heard Mister Rogers speak at an awards gala full of entertainment industry executives. The first words out of his mouth were, “Boys and Girls……Fame is a 4-letter word.”

But as of yesterday morning, I came to the realization that Justin knew way more than I thought he did. On the way to school, Justin said the following: (I took notes while driving.)

“Daddy. I want to see “Men in Black 3” because it looks funny with the eyes in the soup in the commercial and it opened this weekend, but I don’t want to see the “Pirates: Band of Misfits” movie. It looks dumb. Can we take Alex and Alina to see “Brave”? It’s from Pixar and it opens June 22nd. They made “Cars” and “Cars 2” and “Toy Story 3.” It should be really good. And, Burger King is going to have “Brave” toys in their kids’ meal. And, I want to see “The Avengers” because I like Iron Man and I think the Hulk is funny, but I don’t like the girl. I think all my friends will like it too. And, I want to see “Madagascar 3” on June 8th, but I don’t want to see it in 3-D and it’s from Dreamworks, but I don’t want to see the little boy fall off the moon in the beginning. And, daddy? Does “Pro-me-the-us” have aliens in it? It looks scary. And, when does “Despicable Me 2” come out? Will it have the girl from “iCarly?” “John Carter” looks stupid. I don’t ever want to see that. “Battleship” looks loud. And, it looks like “Transformers.” Is it the same thing? Can we go and see “The Fresh Beat Band” live in concert? They are going to be in Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Boston, and Los Angeles. Can I have your phone? I want to see “Pocoyo” on Netflix.”

Let me be crystal clear – I’ve been in a lot of meetings over the years with many, many influential and well respected agents, managers, producers, and studio executives. And, hands down, Justin (a five year old) said more intelligent, insightful, and accurate things about the entertainment industry in that one rant than I’ve ever heard from some of the highest paid executives I’ve dealt with. I’ve never been so horrified and proud at the same time.

What a Family Guy Says vs. What a Single Guy Hears

I often try my best not to take business calls in the morning before I drop the kids off at school. The kids are too loud….I can only concentrate on one thing at a time….and, I like having those final moments of “family” before all hell breaks loose professionally. However, there are times when someone I’ve been trying to reach finally returns my call and it happens to be before 9am. Regardless as to what is going on around me, I need to take that call.

A week and a half ago, a Business Affairs Executive called me to make an offer for one of my clients to test on a television pilot. We traded calls back and forth a few times and then we finally connected at 8:45 in the morning, when I was still in the car with the kids. I’ve dealt with him on a number of occasions. He is single, very dry, straight-forward, lacking in humor, and a tough opponent. I knew this call was going to be difficult and I was prepared.

After 10 minutes of a “heated” discussion, I informed him that I was sitting in a parking lot and needed to drop the kids off at school. I told him that it would only take a few minutes and then I would call him back. He stammered a little and then said ok.

When I returned his call, the first words out of his mouth were, “How’d it go in there?” I paused and said, “Fine. Thanks for asking.” He responded, “I’ve never had someone pause a negotiation to take a shit before. That’s a first.” I had no idea what he was talking about. I asked, “Take a shit? What are you talking about?” He said, “You just told me that you needed to ‘drop the kids off at the pool.’”

I erupted in laughter. I explained, “No, no, no!! I had to drop my children off AT SCHOOL! You know – a building with teachers and books!!!” Once he realized his mistake, he laughed….and then he proceeded to crush my hopes and dreams of getting my client a raise from his quote.

You win some, you poop some.

You May Be Right….I May Be Crazy….

It’s not easy to admit to a five year old that he was right and I was wrong. In my defense, it was 6:45am on a Sunday morning; I did not get a lot of sleep; and honestly….I didn’t believe him.

After giving Garrett his morning bottle, I placed him in his “nap nanny” on the floor of the living room and made sure that he was happy. I decided to shut my eyes for a few minutes in an attempt to catch up on Sunday morning sleep that I was sorely missing.

In an excited and slightly panicked tone, Justin rushed over to me while holding his plastic sword and sheath. He handed me the sheath and told me that his “gold” was at the bottom and he could not get it out. I shook the case and smacked it on the floor a few time. Nothing came out and there were no rattling sounds. I handed it back to Justin and told him that he was mistaken – there was nothing in there. He replied “Yes, there is daddy. Get it!” I looked again, but didn’t see anything.

He grabbed the sheath from me and stormed off. Two seconds later, he returned with the sheath and a flashlight. “Here, daddy! Look!” He flicked on the flashlight and (for the third time) I looked for his gold. I saw nothing…just blackness. The following conversation then took place:

Me: There is nothing down there.

Justin: Yes there is. Look again.

Me: Justin, there is nothing down there. I’ve looked.

Justin: Look again!! Look again!!!

Me: I swear to you on all that is holy…there is no gold down there.

(In the meantime, Garrett was in his special seat babbling at the two of us like he was also a part of this conversation.)

Justin: DADDY!! It’s down there! Get it now!!!

Me: Don’t yell at me. There is nothing there!!

Justin: DADDDDYYYY!!!! Don’t make me give you a time out!!!!!!!

Me: Justin, relax and go ask mommy.

(Ok, this was a “jerk” move on my part. This was my way of getting Justin to wake up mommy. I figured that if I had to be up to endure this – so did she!) Justin marched off to the bedroom and I heard him having a conversation with GWE, but could not make out the details. I was later told by GWE that Justin woke her up by shining the flashlight directly into her eyes. She was dreaming at the time and thought the police were out to get her!

Dejected, Justin returned to the living room and began to chant “Daddy sucks! Daddy sucks! Daddy sucks.” In a moment of exhaustion from lack of sleep and frustration from hearing how badly I sucked on a Sunday morning, I turned to Justin and barked, “Put the sword in the case. There is nothing blocking it! It will go all the way in!!” He angrily grabbed the sword and jammed it into the sheath. And……it only went halfway in. “SEE DADDY!! I TOLD YOU!!!!!!”

I looked at him and the sword in disbelief. There actually was something stuck. I took the case, banged it on the floor once, and out popped a silver dollar. He was right!!!! What made this much worse is that he knew he was right and now that he knew that I knew he was right, so he decided to rub it in my face.


I smiled, waited until he was done, looked him in the eyes, and then asked one direct question: “Justin – where did you get the silver dollar?” We both knew the answer. He stole it from my nightstand. At that moment, he froze and realized “oh shit.”


Boy – I’m Gonna Make You Squeal like a Pig!

As you may remember, Justin had an accident involving a treadmill, a box of winter clothes, and an idiot parent who was only three feet away. (If not, you can read about it here.) This story has taken an unexpected twist in the past 24 hours. It turns out that the “accident” was only the second most traumatic event Justin experienced this week. What has turned out to be far more psychologically damaging to both Justin and I was the process know as “Band Aid Removal.”

Justin has one large band aid on his elbow and another large one on his thigh. Both needed to be removed yesterday before I could give him a shower. A few times over the course of the evening, I casually mentioned to Justin that we needed to take his bandages off, but it wasn’t until I got off the sofa that he realized what was about to happen. He immediately ran off and I discovered him hiding under his bed.

I ended up closing his bedroom door just to make sure that he couldn’t escape and I began to negotiate with him. He was having none of that. Justin kept telling me “It’s gonna hurt. It’s gonna hurt.” and I kept assuring him that I would rip the Band Aids off quickly to minimize the pain. I then pointed to the ceiling with one hand, tried the “Hey – look over there” method, and then attempted to rip off the Band Aid with the other hand while he wasn’t looking. That failed and Justin yelled “NO DADDY, NOOOOOOO” while squishing himself into the corner of his room to get away from me.

I then tried again to coax him out with promises of toys and stories of how I had much bigger boo boos when I was a little boy, but he kept flailing his arm to try and get me to go away. (All of this while crying, mind you.) In a flash, I quickly grabbed his floundering arm, yanked him forward onto the bed, and attacked the Band Aid again. Justin was screaming bloody murder and began punching me in the face with his free elbow. I took blow after blow to the head while trying to get the corner of the Band Aid to lift off of his skin – but the damn thing was stuck! Finally, after pinning Justin down like an out-of-control prisoner on death row, I was able to tear off the Band Aid! Justin screamed as if I had just ripped his whole leg off. With all of his strength, he pushed me away and scampered back to his corner – all the while screaming “AAAAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGHHHHHH.”

There we were – Justin on one side of the room crying and nursing his wound and me in the other corner of the room trying to consol myself after “attacking” Justin. I kept telling myself that they had to come off or his bruises would have gotten infected. The two of us were in shock and breathing heavily like warriors coming off the battlefield.

GWE peeked her head inside and told us to keep it down or someone was going to call Social Services. And then she said, “Oh, and don’t forget about the other Band Aid.” Justin and I looked at each other and thought the same thing – “SHIT!”

Justin made a run for the door. I grabbed him by the leg as he was halfway out and I took him down to the ground in the hallway. Once again, I pounced on top of him as he screamed “GET OFF DADDY, GET OFF,” but I just couldn’t. I had to get that last Band Aid off! He screamed and kicked and I kept trying to find the edge of the bandage. With the heel of his foot, he blasted me in the forehead twice – but I would not give up! Finally, I heard RRRRRIIIPPPPP! I had it! I had the Band Aid in my hand.

With tears rolling down his cheeks, he scooted away from me, looked at me with distain and said. “I don’t like you daddy. You’re not my best friend anymore!!” And with that he stormed off looking for mommy.

I laid on the ground for an extra minute or two thinking – “I am such an asshole. He is never going to trust me again.”

Ten minutes later, he was fine. I was still an asshole.

The Negotiator

While on vacation a few weeks ago, Justin tried to negotiate how many bites of green bean casserole he would have to eat before he could have potato chips.

For those of you who actually know me, you know that I am a highly trained, well-seasoned representative and negotiator for actors and actresses in Hollywood. I have negotiated deals that would have made lesser men wet themselves, leave the business, and move back across the country to live with their parents. I think I can handle a 4 year old.

Lesson one – make sure you know how to count before you enter into a negotiation with me!

Here was the negotiation – Me: 3, Him: 2, Me: 3, Him: 1, Me: 4, Him: 3, Me: ok, 3. Him: no way daddy (pause) 4? Me: ok, you win. 4!