Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The gifts you can't return


WITH AN UPDATE FIRST:

Craig's list flagged Annie's brother ad so I'm posting it here for fun.


Hello,
I'm quite upset with my current older brother. He isn't making any time for me, and is forcing me to spend three weeks with our crazy parents all by myself. Therefore, I'm looking for a new brother. He should have a sense of humor, and must be able to fix things. My new brother needs to be overprotective and skeptical of anybody I date. It would help if you came complete with your own shotgun. Must be ok with being adopted--I don't want to have to pay for therapy later. Also, since I seem to have a large number of gay friends, it wouldn't hurt if you were homosexual. Let me know if you think you have what it takes to be my big brother.

Okay, now to today's post:

One clear sign that it’s Christmas in LA is that you see more TV show jackets. For years that has been the Christmas gift of choice for staffs of television series. Which if fine if you work on THE SIMPSONS, not so fine if you work on FAT ACTRESS.

You feel a little bit like a schmuck anyway, wearing a show jacket, like you’re bragging, hoping to impress “the chicks”. Trust me, a LIVING WITH FRAN fleece is not an aphrodisiac.

Other gifts are traditionally baseball caps (when show runners don’t want to pop for jackets for the crew), T-shirts (same deal), and if you ever get a show mug you know you’re about to be cancelled.

One year on CHEERS we received lovely dart boards. At the time everyone had young children. I don’t think anyone even took them out of the box. (I’m sure there’s still one or two floating around ebay). On MASH one year the cast gave us all engraved watches. It was a beautiful gift, one I still have. The next season the new writer on the staff was counting the days until the big gift. It turned out to be a custom 33 rpm album of all the scenes in which the cast sang on the show. He was livid. “You guys get watches and I get a fucking album of Loretta Swit singing?!” (I don’t even think ebay has that one).

A few years ago an actor on a show I was producing gave me a large heavy rock with the word “remember” carved into it. I put it on the front porch and am still looking for a companion rock that says “Pearl Harbor” or “the Alamo” or “to wipe your feet”. I’d tell you who the actor was but can’t seem to recall.

Most studios gave out big gift baskets, silver key chains, bottles of nice wine, Walkmen, DVD collections, etc. For many years I worked at a studio where the holiday gifts were always disaster first aid kits, huge honkin’ flashlights, Thomas’ road maps, and earthquake preparedness guides. Everything spelled doom, especially the present that came two years ago…the mug. I’m no longer at that studio.

Oh well, I still have my memories. And my IT’S ALL RELATIVE fleece, BIG WAVE DAVE’S cap, ALMOST PERFECT sweatshirt, LATELINE jacket, KIRSTIN fleece, CONRAD BLOOM bowling shirt, ASK HARRIETT t-shirt, and GEORGE & LEO beltbuckle…which I would all gladly trade for one FAMILY GUY handkerchief.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Early in my career, I was the Unit Manager on a low budget movie called "God's Payroll" that went straight to video.

Of course the massively generous wrap gift was a T-shirt that said "I worked on God's Payroll". I actually wore it once. Walking out the front door of my apartment, a large older woman saw me and said, "Bless you, son". It took a moment for me to realize what she was talking about and promptly went back upstairs to change.

-Nathan

Tod Hunter said...

In January, at the beginning of Adult Expo in Las Vegas, the porn industry gathered en masse at their bar of choice. There must have been a hundred male and female performers, plus cameramen, directors, editors, and journalists like myself.

There was one guy, standing, aloof from the crowd. Shades, shaved head. Suede jacket that had a tasteful THE ENGLISH PATIENT embroidered on the left chest. He had that studied cool that said the jacket was usually a chick magnet.

That night, he was steadily ignored. The person who pointed him out to me said "He probably doesn't know that half this room has [done] the other half."

BrianScully said...

One of my favorite show business moments was when Jason Alexander was discussing possible Show Christmas Presents for the crew on "Bob Patterson"... we didn't even make it to Halloween. Still, Jason was thinking very generously and wanted to do something nice for the crew. He was just a bit optimistic.

BrianScully said...

Oops, I almost forgot... Ken, I'm actually on staff now at "Family Guy" and I don't know what they are giving us, but if it IS a handkerchief, I will arrange to send it to you.

Paul Duca said...

And I'll send you your penny residual, Ken--the Boston SIMPSONS station just aired "Dancing Homer".

girl_sedated said...

Count your blessings, I have spent the past 7 years working in the high-tech sector. Do you have any idea what it is like to get bright purple fleecy vests with the corporate logo on them 3 years in a row. At least with a TV show you have the possiblity of selling it on ebay. :)

Ger Apeldoorn said...

I am still waiting for my I Survived Ken special blogging Christmas log.

Scott E. Amundson said...

Christmas gifts are a crapshoot. What do you get the man who has everything? Why a lifetime subscription to the one and only BATTLE BOY, of course! Just log that special him or her on to www.TNAOBB.blogspot.com and watch their eyes light up!

Eric L. Sofer said...

Mr. Levine,

You're in luck. I found a web site that will put logos on most anything (and they note that they're adding new things all the time!) The site page for Family Guy stuff is

http://www.zazzle.com/collections
/familyguy/default.asp

No, no, no need to thank me. Please consider this my little Hannukah gift to you.

I remain,
Sincerely,
Eric L. Sofer
x<]:o){
The Bad Clown

EditThis said...

I always love that the fleece jackets (and most everything else you get) is black. Hey, thanks! A black fleece jacket to wear in f-ing Los Angeles! We lucked out this year and got bikes. I think they're cool, but a lot of people are ebaying them or giving them to other relatives as gifts. It's much better than last year's "We donated a house in your name" gift.

Tom Quigley said...

I know one year the SEINFELD producers gave their whole crew bicycles (as did the MAD ABOUT YOU producers to their crew a couple of years later -- who says there isn't a lot of imitation in network TV?)... Meanwhile, Jerry was out buying himself his umpteenth Porsche... But in keeping in spirit with the season, I think it may have had a menorah for a hood ornament...

SharoneRosen said...

I was working on LA LAW in the 80's during the writers strike, so, we had a short season.. commemorated by a Christmas gift of boxer shorts with the logo and the phrase "the short season." They also gave us a logo beach towel. Never quite figured out the subtle meaning of that... so, what... wear the shorts, but PLEASE cover up?

Dave Williams said...

Three Cheers darboards on eBay at the moment. Highest bid is $36.00.
http://search.ebay.com/search/search.dll?cgiurl=http%3A%2F%2Fcgi.ebay.com%2Fws%2F&fkr=1&from=R8&satitle=cheers+dartboard&category0=

Batocchio said...

The Business on NPR station KCRW recently had an amusing show about gifting in Hollywood.

Emily Blake said...

If you go to the BAlly's in Hollywood, everybody wears their crew T-Shirt to work out. It lets me know who I want to get next to on the ellyptical.

David Schwartz said...

I am the proud owner of a 1980 Black Satin jacket from the Solid Gold TV show. That was our Christmas present back then, and being the show go-fer at the time, I actually ran back and forth to the place that was having it made, so I took a certain pride in its creation.

I've worn it about 8 times since then so it still looks brand new. I even bought one for my Mom and Grandfather and I'm sure they wore it more than I did (but then again, maybe not).

One thing I noticed, is that the people who worked on the show wore it very rarely, while the ancillary executives wore it all the time!

MBFH said...

A TV staton I used to work for gave everybody on staff a toaster oven one Christmas. The following January, they were recalled for catching on fire.

The next year they gave us really cool Kodak instant cameras. The following January, Kodak discontnued both the camera line and stopped manufacturing the film.

MBFH said...

Correction: TV station. My "I" key is msbehaving.

The Curmudgeon said...

Trust me, a LIVING WITH FRAN fleece is not an aphrodisiac.

So you've tried?

Your daughter's Craig's List ad was great. But be careful: Since she's going to school in Chicago, she'll expect to take over your comedy writing buisiness... like the daughter of one alderman appointed to succeed her father yesterady... along with the niece of another former alderman (I guess the late alderperson had no children of her own). This woman was appointed to replace the guy who was elected to succeed his father as County Board President.

Living in Chicago, we need a copy of Debrett's Peerage in order to read the newspaper....

Dhppy said...

Someone beat me to the podcast of "The Business" about gift giving in Hollywood. It's insane.

I would think that Solid Gold jacket would be hot on Ebay.

donna said...

My hubby works for Sony Playstation - as we joke, "It's not just a job, it's a wardrobe!" (almost all black, of course...)

This year's Christmas gift is a margarita set - with a Playstation logo. Well, at least it's not yet another bag.

Missy Vixen said...

I would think that Solid Gold jacket would be hot on Ebay.

I know I'd bid on it!

Anonymous said...

I know about a dozen teenage girls who would kill for a KRISTIN fleece.
Just don't ask how I know them. ;-)

nlocco said...

the craig's list ad would've done better on ebay

happy said...

I've picked some new Christmas gift ideas here. Thanks!