How to Succeed in Hollywood ©


By Bruce Edwin: Producer / Talent Manager

Every one knows that Hollywood is different than the rest of the world. And when I say Hollywood, I mean not only the city proper, but also living and working in the entertainment industry. Like any industry, Hollywood has its own buzz words for its business of motion picture, words that are relevant only to those other people in the same business who know what those words mean. Just as some may not know a lot of geek speak when it comes to computer techie talk, so too may many not know what words are being thrown around by those in the ‘biz’ and what they mean.

If you are going to have a career in Hollywood, you have to know the language. The best thing to do is to pick one or both of the main trade publications that are a must read in this business to help get that part down, study your Yiddish, and read this article here each issue. I give you here some basic phrases and words that you should know the meanings of, if you are going to operate smoothly in this town. This list is endless. You can never know every thing in this business. You can only know too little. So get ready to do your homework.

Breakdowns: few line or so job description issued by casting or the producer or director or production company, describing the acting role available, including detail of character name, age range, gender, character description, when casting, when shooting, union status, production company, CD, etc.

Baby: These days, even straight men may call other straight men baby in this town. Usually, it is reserved for talk between different genders, as in “Baby, you’ve got what it takes.”

The business: The motion picture and entertainment business. Also called ‘the biz.’

Catch 22: Hollywood is full of these. This means that some one needs a certain condition met to get another condition fulfilled, and that one can’t condition that other thing fulfilled without the first thing being fulfilled. One can’t get one without the other, yet at least one of the things is needed.

CD: Casting Director

Eagle: Legal eagle, attorney

EP: Executive Producer. May stand alone on the team, or be on production team with one or numerous other EP’s in which case they may be Co-EP’s.

Exclusive: An exclusive deal or contract. One party is bound to work only or be represented (repped) only by one other party in a certain area.

The Eye: CBS studios

The Fox: 20th Century Fox Studios

The Frog: Warner Brothers Studios

Girl: Any female in the business that is, or looks, under 30.

Honey: It is common in the music, fashion, and film biz for executives (execs) to call other business associates honey, sweetheart, or any other number of sweet-talk words generally reserved for lovers. Usually this is isolated to members of the opposite sex, or gays to those who are gay friendly. It is also not isolated to men only. Many female professionals regularly use this language too. One female agent I once knew, used to call every body she liked ‘schnooky putz.’

Honeywagon: the porta-potties on a backlot or set. I once pointed out to a talent what direction the honeywagons were, and she proceeded to rub her tummy and tell me “Mmmm! Good, thank you, I’m hungry!” Don’t make that same mistake! It pays to know your honey from your honey wagon, right babe?

ND NC: A Non disclosure, Non Circumvent agreement. Also called a confidentiality agreement. A legal doc stipulating that two parties will not cut each other out of a deal when working together, and will keep each other a part of new deals if one party introduces the other party to some one.

Non-Exclusive: A more open, casual agreement in which one party is free to be represented by more than one entity as stipulated.

Par: Paramount Pictures

The Peacock: NBC Studios

Rep: Representation. Usually an agent, manager, or attorney.

They’re SAG: If spoken about an agent, this means that they are franchised with the Screen Actors Guild. If spoken about a talent (actor), this means that they are an active, dues paying member of the Screen Actors Guild.

Sides: lines that an actor has to memorize

Town: Los Angeles, California, the second largest city by population in the United States of America. Hollywood proper.

The U: Universal Studios

UPM: Unit Production manager, also called the showrunner, and sometimes the line producer. May also be the EP.

We’re all going to go to bed together: This does not mean what you might think. It does not mean sleeping with one person, or even a group of people. Instead, it is Hollywood’s way of saying, we are all talking about doing a serious business deal together, with heavy, legally binding contracts. Also referred to as ‘getting married.’ Common among producers.

We’re getting married: Similar to going to bed together, this means that two parties are signing heavy legally binding documents (docs), and may be ‘joined at the hip’ legally for a number of years, or with lifetimes residuals on a film, even for life, like a marriage. A group marriage involves the same with more than two people.

Let's do a sleepover: A sleepover simply means lets test the waters slowly in working together, to see if going to bed together (doing a deal) and getting married (a lifetime deal) is a good idea.

What do you want me to do for you? What can you do for me? I called some big shot in town once, and this was the first thing out of his mouth. Be prepared to answer this question with any one you go in to a meeting in person or on the phone with. It is after all, the only thing most any one really cares about, and every one is trying to get to in other words.

We ME: William Morris Endeavor Entertainment

© 2009, The Hollywood Sentinel.