This post began as a commentary on the dangers of bad agents and how they damage the careers of artists. But after reviewing it, even with the many qualifications that it wasn't a blanket statement about all agents, it still read like an angry diatribe bent on total condemnation. My fear is that it would have really enraged people and not been taken in the spirit of enlightenment for which it was intended. As I've stated in previous posts, it's one thing if my rage-filled ego hurts me, it's not okay if it hurts others by association.
So, instead, I offer an open love letter to agents and managers. A sharing of intimate thoughts, fears and vulnerabilities. A compassionate plea, exposing the needs and desires we artists crave from our representatives.
I will qualify that this snarking is inspired by my experiences with agents as a showrunner. I know what bad agents look like because I have a great point of contrast -- I am blessed that my agent, whom I've known for over 15 years, is everything an agent should be. This is as much a thank you to Nicole Clemens and ICM as it is a "wake the fuck up, douchebags" to some choice others.
Dear Beloved Entrusted,
I love thee, let me count the ways --
I love how your suits get better with every new client.
I love your almost haircut.
I love your luxury car that you let get dirty because that shit's not really important to you.
I love your varying degrees of smile.
I love the amazing energy of your rhetoric.
I love your ability to pull relevant Hollywood facts out of thin air.
I love how you deliver misinformation with ease and
I love how you promise me jobs that I know don't exist and then convince me that “I already have them.”
I love how you roll my call.
Mostly, I love how you make me feel special.
And you do. Your call is the call I wait for.
Please call me.
In the spirit of honesty, I’d like to share some of the things that challenge our special connection. I understand in any relationship, both parties have responsibility in each issue and I am certainly working on my part. I know as an artist, I am the damaged, drug-addicted, self-obsessed and highly erratic partner in this marriage. Or at least that’s what I’m told. But here are a few things I’d like you to consider… when you have a free moment, which I know is never.
I don’t love when I get a one-line role on a show and you release a statement to the trades saying that I've landed a multi-episode arc on a series. All that does is disappoint everyone -- fans, the show, critics, the reporter who believed you. It may cause some immediate buzz and put some quick money in our/your pocket, but ultimately it only damages my
relationship with writers and producers.
I don't love when you oversell my skill set. I appreciate your confidence in me and I know it comes from a place of truly wanting success for me, but once again, it may put some immediate cash toward my/your mortgage, but it only hurts me in the long run. You see if I show up for a job and I'm
under-skilled or inexperienced, I'm the one who suffers the pain and humiliation of feeling like my father was right -- I am a failure. Please don't do that. I know this town is filled with talent who suck and yet continually work, but honestly, at the end of the day, there’s nothing satisfying in failing upwards.
I don't love when you put our relationship on a time clock. It makes your love feel very conditional. I want to know that you trust in my talent and that you are in this for the long haul. It makes me sad that you don't return my calls after three of four failed auditions or pitch meetings. Art is not a trend and talent is not a phase. Subjecting them to the contingency of time makes me feel cheap and replaceable. It's like you have ten or twenty other artists just like me waiting to take my place. Which I know you don't, because what we have is special. So, I hand you my trust, I hang on your guidance, I give you a piece of me with every job.
I don’t love when you don’t take the time to really understand me as an artist. Know my passions, my injustices, my buttons. Know the things that make me tick. The things that I want to say, be and explore. That connection will focus our effort and can only create success. And just a heads up, a guest spot on “iCarly” will not satisfy my need to explore darker comedic characters.
I need you, baby. Without you, I am nothing but a nonunion afterthought. You need me. Without me, you are a high-end grocery store with no organic produce. Let’s work together. Let’s commit. Let’s push past the stereotype of meal ticket and parasite. Let’s set the world on fire and dance by the light of bubbling flesh. Be my rock and I’ll be your bitch.
You complete me.
Client # 435