Went to one of John DeSimio’s parties recently. A stylish bon vivant, former publicity executive, John’s frequent hostings attract a diverse and brainy crowd of mainly industry types. This was a couple of weeks after Ronni Chasen’s funeral and Ronni was still the introductory topic of conversation. Her memorial was a tribute not only to one of the legends of the publicity business but – as most Hollywood events are – a celebration of this small community. Everyone was warmed in the retelling of tales about our late colleague.
Then the topic changed – as most Hollywood conversations do – to the state of the business. Everyone was also warmed by this exchange.
Misery loves company?
Gatherings like John’s normally produce good networking, good gossip and just good fun – for those who can follow the alphabet soup of names floating in anecdotes and updates. Not a lot of star names; these are working people – writers, publicists, journalists – who mainly talk about insider stuff: which projects have gone into turnaround, who’s changed studio’s, where so-and-so is traveling. But in the past two years, these kinds of conversations have become something akin to the bon homme in a bomb shelter. It’s been another terrible year for the movies – work wise and otherwise. We all know it and we all need to talk about it.
In fact, talking about it is helping some of us get through these lean mean times in the movie biz.
The film community isn’t a myth – and it’s not all about schadenfreud. At least not always. Everyone to some degree has felt the pinch of the movie industry downsizing. Even many of us who’ve been lucky enough to work regularly have taken body blows to our confidence that there’ll always be work. One can feel the eerie quiet before the next bombardment.
Gatherings like these – in times like these - expose the softer side of Sammy Glick: people trying to think of ways to help their underemployed colleagues. Like a fighting unit in which some seek heroics while others are just trying to stay alive, the film community is a fractious, bumptious bunch of Me-Firsters – until the battle begins and we see our comrades fall. It’s a common fate that unites us – whether in grief or economic hard times. Even when we look around at the devastation of downsized staffs and dumbed-down films, we have a take-away: we are a community., helping our friends find work, mourning our collective losses, consoling one another and mapping out ways to fix what’s broken.
So, thanks again Ronni for reminding us we’re part of a little village the rest of the world calls Hollywood; thanks John for giving some of us a place to come together. Here’s hoping 2011 brings peace and prosperity and that we carry with us the big lesson of 2009 and 2010: We are family. Sing it with me now.
And Happy New Year to all.
Anything and Everything that has Nothing to Do with the Movies
Sometimes, we go to a movie to get away from the world and sometimes we go to see what’s going on in the world. This blog will offer comments on the world, the movies and their occasional overlap.