There’s a dirty little secret in the entertainment industry (ok, there are a LOT of dirty little secrets, but I’ll just reveal one in this post): A lot of people have jobs for the sole purpose of protecting others from looking like assholes.
In the inherently egocentric world of entertainment, no one wants to reveal themselves to be the bitchy, obnoxious, catty, vindictive, mean-spirited and selfish person that they really are. So they hire others to do it for them. This is especially true with the part of the business revealed by Steven Crowder’s stunning new video that shows how Jon Stewart’s PRODUCER told Crowder’s MANAGER that the Daily Show doesn’t book conservative pundits. In the extra sensitive realm of hiring or not hiring (especially in such a subjective and sensitive industry as ours) these extra layers are essential to keeping everyone looking like the great guy and gal we are all sure they are.
Think about it: Jay Leno was the nice guy back in the late show booking wars, Helen Kushnick was the monster, right? And actor’s are never to blame for the outrageous demands their cut-throat agents squeeze from the studios, right? As a theatrical general manager I handled duties like this all the time. I was the asshole who had to tell Val Kilmer he couldn’t do all the crap he tried to do, and the producer who hired me came in right behind me and gave Val’s ass a nice air kiss, but make no mistake, if I air-kissed any part of Kilmer that producer would have canned me. My job was to be the asshole so my boss could schmooze with Val Kilmer.
And so it goes.
This truth about our demented industry is what kept sticking in my craw as I read the email delivered to Crowder’s manager from the Daily Show producer. You see, I have sent these e-mails before. And when you know the e-mail is just meant for an actor’s manager or agent, you have a lot of leeway to deliver some harsh truths about the talent involved. There are a lot of ways to reject an actor and when you are communicating confidentially with an intermediary. You often reveal things so that you can build a level of trust with the manager or agent because said agent has many other clients. Frankly, actors come and go but you always end up dealing with the same agents year after year after year.
What stuck in my craw was this: “Steven is definitely a talented guy.” See, this was totally unnecessary, if it wasn’t true. In these communications, there is no reason to add a kiss-ass comment because it is assumed that the information won’t be shared with the client (clearly this was the case because notice the Stewart team’s reaction upon the news of the e-mail being made public). The fact that the producer saw fit to include this suggests to me that the entire contents of the e-mail should be taken as the full truth and not as some Hollywood kiss-off letter churned out as an excuse to not hire some talentless jerk whose feelings you don’t want to hurt.
To me, the producer included it as a geniuine attempt to encourage the manager to continue offering talent at this caliber, just as long as they aren’t conservative. Remember, producers need agents and managers to keep the flow of talent. Producers can care less about the feelings of the actor in this case because the manager is the layer that protects their true feeling from getting to the actor.
The bottom line in this revelatory tale is that in this case the layers protecting all sides of the talent-hiring operation broke down a little. The layer that protects an actor from the ugly truth of political bigotry broke down. And thank God it did. Now Crowder at least knows who he is dealing with when he submits himself for a job. He knows that being talented and funny and attractive isn’t enough. You gotta stop being so damn conservative too.
And, the layer that protects Jon Stewart broke down too. That’s the layer that kept Leno from looking like the jerk years ago. See, when word got out about the e-mail, Stewart’s apparent reaction wasn’t outrage at his show’s policy, it was outrage that Crowder’s manager let the world know about his show’s policy.
The layer that protects Jon Stewart from getting his hands dirty with these decisions broke down in a big way. And his entire operation has been revealed. It’s too bad. When Stewart so famously had trouble shining his well known sanctimonious wit against his friend Rep. Anthony Weiner, wouldn’t it have served his show to have someone in the room who could point out the hypocrisy, the seriousness and yes, the obvious humor in the story that dominated headlines for two weeks? Someone like Steven Crowder? Of course it would have served his show. It would have made his show better.
Now we all can see that despite what he would have you believe, he clearly has a priority much higher than that.