Deadline founder and former editor-in-chief Nikki Finke is up and running with Hollywood Dementia, a new website devoted to fiction showbiz stories written by Hollywood insiders. She tells me the site gets off the ground today with offerings from Hollywood lawyer Bertram Fields, David Letterman’s head writer Bill Scheft, Antonia Bogdanovich (daughter of Peter Bogdanovich and Polly Platt), and TV and feature writers Peter Lefcourt, Cynthia Mort, Jay Abramowitz & Tom Musca. Here’s a taste of Finke’s own fiction work. It’s bracing and not for the faint of heart, but were you expecting subtlety from her? There’s a link at the end if you care to give her site a try. She’s opening with a paywall, charging $1 a story so she can pay her contributors.
By Nikki Finke
The men who run Mendelson Management wanted the women to just shut up and do their crappy jobs. That’s when the sh*t hit the fan.
A handful of women managers working at the same management firm controlled a growing group of hot young talent that Hollywood was just beginning to beg for. The women had signed these actors and actresses at the beginning of their careers and choreographed their every move up the ladder until huge salaries and successful features were just within their grasps. That was the Mendelson Management way: to nurture talent. Unfortunately, what was not the Mendelson way was to nurture women managers.
The transformation of these female millennials from salaried employees to star managers occurred so subtly that it escaped the notice of the firm’s middle-aged partners who instead kept their eyes more firmly affixed on the bottom line as well as on their own fat asses. The result was that Mendelson was the worst by far of the major management companies which indulged in that gambit which male-dominated Hollywood plays to subordinate women: institutionalized sexism.
Mendelson had never had a female partner. There had never even been a woman in its training program. Instead, almost every woman manager had started at the company as a secretary and risen in spite of the prevailing system. That created a kind of girl posse. Instead of the female frenemies common to Hollywood studios or networks or agencies, the Mendelson women were BFFs and truly liked one another. They even worked as a team, sharing and pairing on certain clients to the extent that it became hard for Hollywood to tell exactly whose client was whose. But as their clients became celebs, so, too, did these female managers.
The women had personality traits in common. They were relentless and obnoxious, to the point that Hollywood complained they were bitches on platform heels. But those same qualities also made them great managers. None of them had grown up with money or connections. Nor could they rely on their looks. They were mostly short and rather plain. Indeed their mentor once ordered the only near-beauty among them to cut her long wavy auburn hair. (“Because if you’re dealing with a man, he’s not going to know whether to fu*k you or sign you as his manager. And if it’s a woman, she’s not going to want you near her husband or boyfriend. So cut your hair.”)
The Mendelson women made up for in swagg what they lacked in looks or stature. None of them had children and only a few bothered with a lover or spouse. They also shrugged off all those rumors, like they had secured their clients by giving toe-curling blow jobs or expertly eating pu**y. (Actually, that was true of only two of them.) No, what really made the females fume was seeing their male counterparts who had started at the firm at the same time — punks or putzes all — rise faster and get paid more.
Those few times when the female managers complained about their inferior treatment by The Prick Club as the women called it, the Mendelson Powers That Be would shrug and throw shade. “She’s on the rag.” “She’s a ballbuster.” “She’s a c*nt.” And so on.
The women’s situation at Mendelson was deteriorating. A partner asked one of the women to go over to a major actor’s house she didn’t even rep and help him get ready for a location shoot. “Pack for him,” the boss suggested. “Help him relax. Let him f*ck you in the ass.” Another female manager who asked to move into the office being vacated by a male exec was told, “We’re saving that office for somebody more important. Besides, it’s not like you need a casting couch.” When a straight female manager took out a mortgage on her first home, a partner stopped her in the hallway to ask, “A woman living alone in a house? What happens if the toilet overflows? Your lesbian lover fixes it?” To which she shot back, “Probably the same thing that happens when a man lives there: sell the sh*thouse.”
There was the time a female manager was considering a role as a hooker for a young actress when a deal sticking point became the nudity clause.
“She doesn’t want to do any nudity,” the manager told a partner, her client at her side listening to the conversation.
“But it’s a hooker,” he pointed out.
“I don’t care if it’s a hooker,” she replied. “She won’t do nudity.”
“Baby, let me tell you,” the partner said in his best pimp voice, turning to address the teenager. “If my wife had your body, she’d be shopping nude in Gelson’s. What’s a little beaver now and then?”
And a female manager never forgot taking a meeting in a partner’s office which had just been completely redecorated in all beige. When the confab broke up, the female manager’s face looked pained.
“Is there something wrong with you?” the partner snapped.
“No,” the woman said weakly. “I just want to sit on this couch a little longer.”
“You can’t. I have a confidential conference call,” he replied.
When she still didn’t move, he grew suspicious and then noticed a spreading red stain on the sofa beneath her skirt. The woman had started her period. “Oh my god,” the partner screamed. “That’s DISGUSTING! And all over my new couch!” To further mortify the woman, he promptly told what had happened to his partners and everyone else within earshot.
Incident after incident, ad nauseam.
Fed up with the bitches bitching, the Mendelson Powers That Be decided that the only way to deal with it was to pit woman against woman. Or as they described it to one another, cow against cow. So they decided what was needed was a little culling of the herd.
To read further, give Nikki’s site a try.