Hollywood Assistant Horror Stories

Today is Administrative Professionals Day, which means many millennials in entry level-ish jobs will be opening the gifts they bought for themselves. Or, if you have a nice boss, you’ll actually have a thoughtful present that shows real recognition of your dedication to work. Either way, if you’ve ever had to work for someone else, this day is for you.

But we know that not all bosses can be like idyllic Leslie Knope and genuinely care about you and your wants, needs, hopes and dreams. Sometimes, you’re forced to work for a Miranda Priestly, who is utterly horrific. Luckily, I’ve never worked as an assistant, because frankly, I don’t think I’m cut out for it. But bless those who do. Especially in Los Angeles.

Working as an assistant in Hollywood is a whole different ball game than most places (save for maybe like NYC), in that the percentage of bosses who think they are superior than everyone else is way higher than say, Des Moines, Iowa. There are a lot of power players in the industry, not just actors and directors, but writers and publicists and agents and studio execs who all think their to-do list is much more important than everyone else’s. It’s all the familiar phones, scheduling, lying about where your boss is, but 10 times worse.

To those that have given their lives to the every beck and call of IRL horrible bosses – we salute you. Here are just a few horror stories from assistants who prove that working in Hollywood can sometimes be the actual worst.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

“I broke up with a very prominent actor boyfriend of hers. She said, “Oh, we’re done making a movie together; it’s not really going to work; I’m sort of seeing somebody else. Could you just tell him to back off and leave me alone?” And she said this over the phone, over Christmas. She told me, “Accept the date on my behalf. Take the date. Go instead of me.” So, that’s what I did. You would think sending a text is the worst — no. Sending your assistant to break up with him is the worst. He had no idea it was coming, either, which was sad. Because when I was talking to him on the phone before, he was like, “Great! She said yes! Tell her I’ll see her here; I’ll order us her favorite wine,” and I was just like, “Okay!” Ugh. I felt horrible for him. I was like, “You do not deserve this.” That breakup was two weeks into the job. That was my initiation — Oh my God, this is what I’m doing?” {x}

 Gifting On A Dime

“She once had me buy some luggage for her makeup artist, two bags for $5000, and yet for her best friend’s birthday she told me to find a used bike on Craigslist for under $100,” he said of a multi-million dollar actress… He also said that the actress’ mom needed a new TV, but instead of buying a new one she had him dust off an old TV that was missing a remote in her garage and drive it over to Mom’s house. Yes money mattered to her. She seemed to want to flash it with inconsequential people, but with family and friends she was extremely frugal.” {x}

We All Hate Waiting For The Cable Guy

I once had to go over to one of my boss’s condos at 8 a.m. on a Saturday to wait for the cable guy, because she didn’t want to stay inside her own home for four hours. {x}

Literal Shit

An assistant once had to pick up a stool sample from her boss’s dog and deliver it to the vet. {x}

You Gotta Have Balls To Do That

An assistant to a film and TV director received a call from his boss around 9:30 on a Saturday, requiring 200 tennis balls before noon, so he could teach his girlfriend tennis -and he needed to get the balls for a cost of about $10. “There’s gotta be a way.” The assistant ran around town, finding those ways, not all of them necessarily legal. “I hopped the fence at a country club with a basket I picked up at the grocery store and picked up like 30 orphan balls, I got chased by the tennis coach. Then I called a buddy who was a member at a country club, who knew a crooked groundskeeper, who sells balls he steals from the country club. I drove like 30 minutes and did this sketchy tennis ball transaction in his alley like I was buying a pound of cocaine and I had to haggle him down.” {x}

How About “Ass”?

The time an agent told me to never use the word “as” again. That was… frightening. {x}

There’s An Undo Button For That

A Talent Agent assistant was sending an audition confirmation to Actress A and had to CC her “Group”, which consisted of any relevant managers, agents, etc. But he accidentally selected the Actress B’s “Group.” So Actress A saw that Actress B was going to get the same audition. And Actress A called the agent and ripped him for sending other competing clients against her for the same role… and the agent eviscerated the assistant all night for being a “fucking idiot.” Called him repeatedly all night, insulting him, threatening to fire him, etc… The assistant just apologized and took the beating. He thought he lost his job, but he showed up the next morning and there was his agent, waiting for him in his office, with an agenda of stuff to take care of. They didn’t talk about it again. {x}

The cow as white as milk, The cape as red as blood, The hair as yellow as corn, The slipper as pure as gold

One assistant recalls having to keep a special healing mushroom alive by soaking it in goat’s milk as it grew to new and alarming sizes, and later reserving that mushroomy goat milk for her boss to drink (she never did drink it). {x}

You Butter Believe It

I was once screamed at by my boss because the butter that arrived with his side of bread was too melted. “You need to check this before you give it to me!” he yelled, which is how I found myself gingerly squeezing individually-wrapped tablespoons of butter on a near-daily basis to make sure they were the correct temperature. {x}

An Oscar-winning Delivery

One assistant worked for an award-winning cinematographer and his family for several years. “I had developed a very tight bond with them and we considered each other family. The couple asked if I would film the birth of their child. They said I was the only person they trusted enough to handle this task. While I was terrified at the thought of filming such a personal and unfamiliar event, I was honored to have been asked. It was requested that I watch several hours of birthing videos so I would know what to expect during the birth. Each day, I watched hour-long videos of women going through labor and the delivery of their babies. Video after video, I watched as these women were screaming and cursing and looking as if they were being tortured. What had I gotten myself into?”

”Inside the delivery room, I was introduced to the doctor and knew that I was going to have to be very creative to get the perfect shot and capture the whole event. I found the perfect place to stand, the overhead light was in the perfect spot. Just as things were getting good and the baby was crowning, the doctor moved to a different position, moving the overhead light with him. Knowing that my boss was expecting a perfect video, I quickly apologized to the doctor and moved the light to where it was best for my camera angle. There was an excellent chance that my boss and his wife would have been outraged that I would get in the way of the doctor, but instead, my boss, the cinematographer, gave me a high-five and said… ‘YES! That’s why I knew you were perfect for the job!’

”I never watched that video, but I’m told that it was wonderfully shot and perfectly lit.” {x}



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