Wednesday, May 03, 2017

30 Ways to Survive in Hollywood

Here’s a FQ that became an entire post:

Pete Grossman asked:

Ken, can you offer some insight about living a smart financial life in show business? (OK, how many people did I just lose?) As a career in the arts is filled with pratfalls and high hopes, hot streaks and cold shoulders, what do sharp writers, actors and other people in the biz, in your opinion, do right to stay financially sound?

Save your money.

Don’t have four ex-wives.

Don’t buy a big house the day you’re hired on DOUBT.

Don’t invest in Atari.

Don’t shop at Whole Foods.

Get your lattes at Dunkin’ Donuts.


Send your kids to state schools.

Don’t have kids with the second wife.

Don’t have kids.

Fire your Life Coach.

Never get sick.

Marry Oprah.

Put Regular gas in your car instead of the recommended Upgrade – especially if the car is leased. What do you care how it runs in four years?

Don’t invest in musicals.

Don't buy homes for relatives you've never met.

Lie and say you're not in the industry then apply to game shows. 

Don’t put Melania Trump’s name on your product.

Start a podcast.

Don’t sell Los Angeles Chargers merchandise.


Don’t fly First Class.

Convince your daughters to elope.

Wait until movies come to HBO.

Don't run for president.

Drop the posse.  

Don’t book the next Bill Cosby tour.

Shop at Old Navy.

Don’t buy Lakers season tickets (for so many reasons).

Sell your old scripts on eBay now, while two or three people in the world still give a shit about them.


Jim S said...


How many people have you seen actually do these things you suggest people avoid?

Is that something that happens just to performers or do writers get caught up in the glitz?

ADmin said...

Fire your Life Coach. - Great one! :-D

The Minstrel Boy said...

the best financial advice i ever got came from an entertainment lawyer who told me:

if it rolls, flies, or floats, lease, don't buy.

Roseann said...

Very good advice.

Pete Grossman said...

Thanks Ken! Adding to the list:

Do not buy anything that makes you scroll through paragraph after paragraph until your finger fails, to find out how much it costs - AFTER YOU CLICK the damn button!

Cap'n Bob said...

Don't become a Scientologist. That alone will save you hundreds of thousands.

Johnny Walker said...

Lorne Michaels, who has obviously seen lots of people come into money very quickly, apparently says that everyone always loses the money from their first big success.

I can understand why. If you suddenly come into money there must be a pressure to do something with it. You have it. Isn't that what it's there for? It must take a strong character to sit on it for a few years and just get used to having it in the bank, but that's clearly the best advice.

Roger Owen Green said...

Off topic, but in my email:
Chancellor Zimpher, Alan Alda Announce “Communicating Science” Pilot Program

Garden City – State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher and acclaimed actor, writer, and director Alan Alda today announced an expanded partnership between SUNY and Stony Brook University’s Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science to offer the center’s highly-acclaimed training to doctoral students at up to five additional SUNY campuses.

The Alan Alda Center has received widespread recognition for its training, which provides students with skills to communicate their work effectively to the public, public officials, the media, and others outside of their discipline. SUNY will take the program to scale by offering additional training and workshops, and expanding access to programming through a New York City-based at the SUNY Global Center.

“Alan Alda and his team at Stony Brook University’s Center for Communicating Science have developed innovative techniques and effective practices for explaining even the most complex matters of science, and we look forward to bringing their highly successful program to more SUNY students,” said Chancellor Zimpher. “This pilot program is a perfect example of SUNY doing what it does best – identifying what works at one campus and bringing it to scale so that more of our students benefit. Thank you to Alan for his leadership and vision as we pursue this exciting opportunity.”

“Through our partnership with SUNY and Stony Brook University, we've had a real impact on the communication of science and medicine," said Alan Alda. “We’ve trained over 8,000 scientists and health care professionals to communicate their work in a clear and engaging manner, and another 30,000 scientists have been exposed to our unique approach in plenaries and lectures across the United States and around the world. This new pilot gives us an opportunity to capitalize on one of SUNY’s greatest strengths – its systemness, as Chancellor Zimpher says – and bring our successful training to more students within SUNY and throughout New York State.”

“Thanks to the passion and innovative work of Alan Alda and the Alda Center, Stony Brook University is at the vanguard of demonstrating the importance of effective science communication,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley, Jr. “Alan and his expert team at the Alda Center have been driving this big idea and building momentum from Washington D.C. to all corners of academia. Establishing a relationship with SUNY partner campuses will empower those as we have been empowered which will ultimately help advance SUNY’s research mission and we are pleased to be a part of this.”
“Our expanded partnership with The State University of New York will bring the important work of the Alda Center to an entirely new and tremendous scale,” said Dr. Laura Lindenfeld, director of the Alda Center and a professor in the Stony Brook University School of Journalism. “The transformation that our students make in being able to convey the importance and impact of their work can be really amazing, and we’re excited about the opportunity to share the experience with more SUNY students.”

DBenson said...

"Hollywood money isn't money. It's congealed snow, melts in your hand, and there you are."
-- Dorothy Parker, 1958

Brendon said...

Donate money to Israel........

Ruth said...

Marry Oprah??? Ewwwwwwww :P

Jake said...

Add one more - Get free sex from wannabe actresses.... That should save a lot and also from marriage.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Johnny: I think a lot of people when they start earning real money assume that this is how it's going to be from now on. It takes more experience to realize that all creative careers have ups and downs and you have to plan for the downs in order to survive them, which requires admitting to yourself that the reason you get paid well when you do is partly luck and may only be temporary.

Also, a lot of people, certainly in the past, came into Hollywood (or big-time sports, or any other "overnight" success) with no experience. If you're a third-generation screenwriter (like Joss Whedon) or actor (like Billie Lourd) you have some family knowledge to draw on. But for a lot of people they're newcomers, they may not be used to handling money, and most personal finance advice is about managing when you have a salary, not how to deal with the very lumpy income you earn as a creative person or freelance.


Me Magazine said...

Oprah's already taken. With herself.

littlejohn said...



This is the article by Steve Rushin that I emailed you about last week; hopefully you can open this. It won't cut and paste, and SI doesn't have a link for this column yet, so this is the best I can do.

If you would like me to email it directly to you, please reach me at - I have the article scanned and can simply forward it to you. You may not want to give your address out. If not, I can open suggest you check and search their 'Point After' columns . SI says you can search their archives but I could never find it.

warm regards,


Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Best advice I ever received came from Rosko, the DJ (WOR-FM, WNEW-FM): "Be prudent." I wish I had paid a little more attention to him, but hey, sometimes three wives, recessions and real estate disasters sometimes overwhelm even the best advice...

Liggie said...

@Johnny: Shaquille O'Neal, a legendary basketball player, said he was advised from the start to save half of everything he made. Simple, smart advice, and it's worked for him.

Flip Wilson's biography mentioned his first handling of big money. When his career-launching variety show was in preparation, his agent had him sit through a presentation with a financial advisor. Afterwards, Flip -- who didn't graduate high school due to poverty -- told his agent, "I don't have time to research all this stuff, but here's what I'll do. I'm in, but whatever I put in, they're going to match and you're going to match. So if I'm going down, you (colorful noun) are all going to go down with me." Result: Flip's investments kept appreciating in value throughout his lifetime, including the economically nasty 1970s.

Prairie Perspective said...

Another useful tip: Open a sideline business, perhaps a yogurt shop, as this Emmy-winning actor explained to talk show host Barth Gimble.