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TOUGH MONEY: Entertainment | EXAMPLES FROM LIFE

Day by Day

Esther Greif, 40, Los Angeles

March 24, 1997

About a year after I graduated from college, I went home to cry on my mom's shoulder about the job I hated and the boyfriend I'd just broken up with. Two mornings later, I was awakened by a call from a friend. The production coordinator assigned to the movie she was working on was sick, she told me, and they desperately needed someone to do payroll. She'd suggested me, because I was good at math, and they wanted me on the set immediately. I replied, firmly, that my degree in French literature hardly qualified me and that I wasn't interested in working anyway--particularly not at 6 a.m.!

Unconvinced, she handed the phone to a man who asked if I could be there in 10 minutes. Intending to discourage him, I said it would take me at least an hour. "Great," he said, "we'll see you in an hour." Dismayed at the predicament I'd gotten myself into, I went to the set and then to the production coordinator's home to find out what I was supposed to do. By the end of that first day, I'd updated the payroll records, cut the checks and gotten them signed and distributed. I'd also found that I really liked both the work and the setting, so when I was asked to come back to the office the next day, to answer phones and pay some bills, I said I would. Day-to-day eventually turned into a regular position as the project's production accountant, and I was the last employee to wrap out the movie several months later.

Now, 17 years later, I'm a vice president of Leeza Gibbons Enterprises, in charge of production for everything except the talk show. And I'm still wondering what I'm doing here.

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