Susanna Salk


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Hollywood Assistant
Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

“Josh Land is like a teddy bear with fangs,” Ray handed me cappuccino and escorted me up from Human Resources to my first day on the job back in 1992 at the biggest movie agency in the world. My new boss was one of its senior agents and Ray was a seasoned assistant at the desk right next to the one where I’d be sitting. I tried to take a sip of the cappuccino but Ray stopped me. “Not for you. For him.” He pointed upstairs. We were standing in the cavernous, sun drenched atrium accented with Mies van der Rohe and Cy Towmblys. Dangling above, twirling in the air conditioned breeze was an enormous Calder mobile. The perfect Los Angeles blue sky blanketed the domed glass roof. “Take it all in,” Ray paused.“Because until you leave here, this is the last time you’ll be standing still.” Then we sprinted up the ramped hallway towards the second floor. “My friend Mary over in TV got a urinary track infection because she didn’t have time to pee.” We passed a ladies room door as an assistant was coming out, wiping her eyes with a paper towel. Ray continued past the glass conference rooms, without breaking his stride. “Treat Josh the right way and he’s all hugs. A slip up and he’ll leave you to bleed on the sidewalk while he leaves early to pick his twin girls up from ballet.” “So what does he do again?” I asked, trying not to eye the celebrities- their smaller real life selves- strolling past me like travelers on an airport walk way. “He’s the creative think tank for the agency. They bring him in on the meetings with the older stars who they can’t find work for anymore but love having on their roster. He charms them, sends them scripts that’ll never get made. Only agent in Hollywood who wears bow ties.” We arrived at what was clearly my destination: an empty desk with a computer outside a giant office, its door closed. All the lines on the phone were ringing. I thought about my old office and assistant in the magazine business who I had left behind in the New York. “We basically pay you nothing,” Arlene in Human Resources had told me before handing me off to Josh. “But you’ll learn everything.” A small stickie was on the computer screen with the message: DONT WORK HERE