As anyone who has studied Hollywood knows, the son-in-law rises, the assistant despises. But when they’re Princeton graduates-the pool that Scary Movie 3 screenwriter Craig Mazin, Princeton class of 1992, decided to hire from-they may have a better shot. On May 29, the Princeton University alumni listserve “Princeton-in-Hollywood” posted the following notice:
“I am looking for a PERSONAL ASSISTANT. Starting NOW.” Mr. Mazin’s note, which described his deal with Miramax and its sister company, Dimension, continued: “I am contracted to work for them exclusively for a one year term that begins when I turn in a first draft of what will surely be the very exciting ‘Scary Movie 4′ script.” Scary Movie 3 , he wrote, is still shooting. Mr. Mazin added that the term of his contract won’t “begin until (I’m estimating) Nov. 1. That effectively makes my term deal for 1.5 years.
“So … I’m looking for someone to assist me during this deal period.” Candidates would commit for at least a year and endure a two-week trial period, with tasks that include “everything from the worthless and mundane (lunches, personal errands, clerical matters both professional and personal, and various other annoying tasks with which I don’t want to deal)” to the “vocationally valuable”-which Mr. Mazin defined as “listening in on calls with directors, producers, studio execs and studio chairmen”-to “educational” script reading, research, “listening to me blather about writing, learning how Hollywood works, so on and so on.”
Mr. Mazin placed himself in a great Hollywood tradition: “My assistant is going to be doing the things that I’ve been doing for myself but no longer desire to.” He also assured potential job seekers that “I am not a Scott Rudin screaming-fit freak. In fact, I’m quite pleasant. Just ask any of the three or four people who still think they’re my friends.” He added: “Forgetting things is not allowed. Missing the point is not allowed. Presenting me with problems without also providing possible solutions is not allowed. I need a fast thinker, a fast typer, a fast writer and a fast reader.” He stipulated that applicants must have “excellent social skills,” a sense of humor, “a large vocabulary, articulate speech and impeccable grammar.”
“If you can’t get through a sentence without saying ‘like,’ or ‘you know,’ or ‘and I’m all …, ‘ then please don’t apply,” he wrote.
“This job will ultimately provide great experience to anyone who aspires to either be a screenwriter or ever work with one.”
That takes in most of California. Meanwhile, Mr. Mazin added a self-effacing coda: “While I’m not exactly [ Gangs of New York and Jack the Bear screenwriter] Steven Zaillian, working with me will provide experience working with managers from Brillstein-Grey, agents from UTA, and executives at Miramax and Dimension. This includes Bob (all the time) and Harvey (infrequently) Weinstein, as well as the co-presidents of Dimension and a slew of other important and impatient people. Those who wince at the thought of having to deal with people like this should not apply. Those who suspect they are incapable of confident diplomacy and discretion around people like this should not apply. Those who are less concerned with Hollywood fantasies than they are with Hollywood realities should jump at this chance. God knows I would have. I do think of this position as one in which I can mentor someone as well as make them get me lunch. In addition to money, I would like to provide tutelage and connections.”
For this, Mr. Mazin was offering $28,000-$33,000 a year, depending on experience, and no benefits. “Race, gender, physical appearance or sexuality will not be a factor” in hiring, he said, but applicants must “shower every day and use deodorant.”
Reached by e-mail, Mr. Mazin conceded that “there are chapters in the Bible shorter than my posting. Hey, writers write. :)”
So do screenwriters.
Hamptons With A Vengeance
Coming up empty in East Hampton? Fed up with the L.I.E.? Concerned about snooping paparazzi, angst-ridden about the police crashing your “white” party, nervous about finding tie-down space at East Hampton Airport, frightened that somehow the Hummer just doesn’t command the proper respect in the parking lot at Citarella’s?
Not to worry. Just rent some dock space: The World War II aircraft carrier H.M.S. Vengeance is for sale. Hello, Mort! Want to sail on over in your stinkpot? I’ve got a little surprise for you.
The Vengeance boasts a 690-foot flight deck-almost enough room for Lizzie to park-three radar systems, a 330-by-52-foot below-decks hangar area for your partying pleasure and sleeping quarters for 1,300. Can you think of a better way to entice the Spielbergs to visit? Steven … remember 1941 ? Let’s relive it!
The price: $4.5 million, as is. The Vengeance was recently decommissioned from the Brazilian Navy, and it’s waiting for pick-up at the docks in Rio. With a much bigger kitchen than that crummy artist’s cottage on Georgica you almost bought. And far cheaper than chicken salad, of equal tonnage, at the Barefoot Contessa.
For more information, call Darryl Henry or Brian Mose, at French Creek Boat Sales Ltd., 250-248-0010, or visit their Web site, http://www.frenchcreekboatsales.com. (Hint: look under “specialty listings.”)
Let’s face it: You need it. You want it. And no one-man, woman or maître d’-is going to screw with you when you drop anchor in this baby at Sagaponack. It’ll make Della Femina give you the respect he always should have.
Toby Young: Losing and Alienating, Round 2
British author Toby Young, who boss-bashed Graydon Carter, Tina Brown and Harry Evans in How to Lose Friends and Alienate People , is heading back to New York with the stage version of his book. Since his downward spiral through the Manhattan media world, from editing at Vanity Fair to writing about interactive sex toys, Mr. Young has lived in London for the past three years, while his memoir has lived on at the Soho Theatre, in a one-man play starring Jack Davenport, star of the popular British sitcom Coupling . Encouraged by his show’s successful three-week run in London, Mr. Young is looking for a bold young actor to impersonate himself, Mr. Carter, Ms. Brown, Mr. Evans and the other Condé Nast employees he calls “celebrity-mad sycophants” in an Off Broadway show.
“There are a number of characters in the Brit Pack who would be ideal,” Mr. Young said of the prospective star, before listing Alan Cumming, Ewan McGregor and Paul Bettany as good candidates. The show will be staged by its London producer, Olivia Wingate, but Mr. Davenport probably won’t be crossing the Atlantic. Mr. Young said that when Mr. Carter was asked who would play him in a film version of the book, he said he didn’t know, but that Verne Troyer-Mini-Me in the Austin Powers movies-should play Mr. Young. “I guess he didn’t realize that the actor would be playing him, too!” laughed Mr. Young. “It’s a one-man show!”
When asked how New Yorkers would respond to the scathing satire, Mr. Young said he thought the reaction would be similar to the one prompted by his book. “I was worried it would provoke a negative reaction,” he said, “because it would be seen as an anti-American book-a snobby Brit poking fun at the Americans. But in America, it was seen as an attack on a small coterie of the New York media elite.” As for finding an actor brave enough to ridicule the head of Vanity Fair , he said: “I was saying to Jack [Davenport] that if you do impersonate Graydon on the London stage, you’ll be blacklisted by Vanity Fair , and he said, ‘If Graydon can’t laugh at himself, then fuck him.’ But maybe Americans will be more cautious.”
Only the Strong Promote
Making a documentary about some of the hardest-working entertainers in show business has a built-in promotional value. Just ask Marshall Thompson, leader of the sartorially splendid Chi-Lites. The Chicago-based R&B group, which had hits in the 70′s with “Oh Girl” and “Have You Seen Her,” is one of the soul legends depicted in Only the Strong Survive , the documentary directed by Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker and produced by Fox 411 reporter Roger Friedman and Frazer Pennebaker (D.A.’s son). “It’s pretty exciting right now,” Mr. Thompson said by phone of the movie, which also features Stax recording legends Rufus Thomas, his daughter Carla Thomas, Sam Moore and Wilson Pickett. “I’m promoting it a lot at all of our concerts.” Though Mr. Thompson is 60 and the Chi-Lites have been together for more than 40 years, the group, he said, still performs on weekends eight months out of the year. That’s not counting the year he spent behind bars after pleading guilty to extortion conspiracy in July 2001. Mr. Thompson was among a group of former suburban Chicago police officials-including Dixmoor Park district chief James Parks-who admitted to soliciting $1,500 to $2,500 bribes in return for police credentials that entitled the holders to flash a badge and carry a gun-even though the prospective lawmen were mostly local businessmen who worked in tough neighborhoods.
“I don’t want to go too much into that,” Mr. Thompson said. “I was part of helping the police force, and I got caught up with the chief of police. He was doing his thing-and actually, we didn’t know,” he told The Transom. But Mr. Thompson added: “I’m moving forward.” Indeed, his little stretch in the pokey hasn’t seemed to affect the band’s livelihood at all. “All our concerts are sold out 43 years later,” he said.
Make that 43 years and 150 outfits-Elton John doesn’t have anything on the Chi-Lites. When Mr. Thompson flew to New York for the film’s April 29 premiere, he admitted that a “wagon” had to be hired to bring his wardrobe from the airport to the hotel. “But then, we were heading out on tour from there,” he said. He added that all of his stage wear is custom-made, “from the shoes” on up to the lime-green fedora that he favors. Mr. Thompson said the group’s hats are designed by Baker’s and their suits by Mr. K in Chicago. “He’s a very unusual guy-you won’t see his clothes nowhere,” said Mr. Thompson, speaking of Mr. K. But “when you got a certain style, you’ve got to keep your image up.”
The Transom Also Hears …
Last week was old-home week for Paige Powell. The former associate publisher of Interview magazine and longtime friend of Andy returned to New York from her current environs of Portland, Ore., for a rigorous run of dinners and parties in her honor. On Wednesday, May 28, her friends at Paper magazine, David Hershkovits and Kim Hastreiter, were the hosts of a dinner at Spring Street Restaurant. The group included photographer William Wegman, Blondie singer Deborah Harry, fashion designer Nicole Miller, hip-hop pioneer Fred (Fab Five Freddy) Braithwaite, actor/director Vincent Gallo, hotelier Andre Balazs, Warhol Diaries editor Pat Hackett and author Tama Janowitz-most of whom were regulars at the dinner parties that Ms. Powell threw back in the 80′s and 90′s, when she was one of downtown’s great social catalysts. Or, as Ms. Janowitz put it in her toast to Ms. Powell: “She’s the closest thing to Holly Golightly that New York has ever seen.” Too bad she’s not closer to New York.
Tout le monde showed up at the Museum of Modern Art’s 35th Annual Party in the Garden at the Altman Building to honor former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani on June 2, but none of them seemed to know why. Three years ago, more than one of the same art-worldlings couldn’t denounce Mr. Giuliani bitterly enough when he tried to revoke funding for the Brooklyn Museum of Art exhibition Sensation -you may recall the Virgin Mary made with elephant dung-then formed a “decency commission” to judge what type of art should be publicly financed.
But when The Transom asked the Ungaro-dressed, Manolo Blahnik–shod, Nars-faced guests emerging from dinner at the Metropolitan Pavilion on West 18th Street, they couldn’t think of why the art world was fêting the very man it had once accused of censoring freedom of expression. When socialite Carroll Petrie was asked why Mr. Giuliani was the evening’s honoree, she smiled, shrugged and walked away. Caroline Kennedy couldn’t put her finger on it, either-as she left the dinner in a beige blazer on the arm of her husband, Edwin Schlossberg, she said, “Uh, I guess … because he really helped the expansion?” Art collector Peter Brant and Larry Gagosian, recently charged with forming a company called Contemporary Art Holdings to avoid $26.5 million in sales tax, were also in attendance. Mr. Brant, with his wife Stephanie Seymour, wouldn’t hazard a guess: “I don’t know,” he said. “I’m not addressing this.”
Whitney chairman Leonard Lauder, however, stepped up to bat: “He gave a great contribution to MoMA, and no administration has ever done that in the past, and he deserves every honor in the world.” What happened to the days when the word “Giuliani” sent shudders down every curator’s spine? “That’s ancient history,” said Mr. Lauder. “That belongs with the pyramids.”
Apparently, Mr. Gagosian and art dealer Mary Boone had forgotten their previous spats with the Giuliani administration. While, at the end of his term, Mr. Giuliani authorized the city to donate $65 million to the MoMA, during most of his tenure he had alienated arts groups by proposing deep budget cuts for cultural institutions. Ms. Boone had been arrested at the height of Mr. Giuliani’s anti-art kick in 1999 for handing out bullets at a show by Tom Sachs, a sculptor who made his own guns. At the 2000 Whitney Biennial, the Whitney board, led by Mr. Lauder, commissioned German artist Hans Haacke to contribute a piece called Sanitation , a none-too-veiled reference to the infamous Sensation exhibit that had provoked Mr. Giuliani’s ire. The piece was a structure of garbage cans, replete with recordings of storm troopers and quotations from Mr. Giuliani written in Hitler’s typeface, Faktur.
Mr. Giuliani himself seemed baffled by the evening. He and his new bride, Judith N. Giuliani, were two of the first to leave the dinner. When The Transom asked him if he was surprised to be receiving the honor, he hesitated for a minute, then said: “No, I think it’s wonderful.”
In an error that only Charles Dickens would appreciate, the catering and events company Great Performances was misidentified as “Great Expectations” in The Transom’s account of Mr. and Mrs. Rudy Giuliani’s wedding reception, which appeared in the June 2 issue of The Observer . The name of the orchestra that played at the couple’s reception-the Bob Hardwick Sound-was also inadvertently omitted from the piece. Although Mr. Hardwick himself was not present at the Giuliani soirée -he was in Bermuda performing at the wedding of another former Giuliani policy adviser, Margaret Smith-he said his orchestra deserved a pat on the back, in part because they were informed at 10 a.m. on the day of Mr. and Mrs. Giuliani’s wedding that the couple wanted their first dance to take place to Sarah Brightman’s “Deliver Me.” Mr. Hardwick said the orchestra tracked down a copy of the song and learned it in time for the reception later that evening.