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Forget the Power Lunch. Let's Do the Mailroom.

May 04, 2003|MICHAEL T. JARVIS

David Rensin's new book, "The Mailroom: Hollywood History From the Bottom Up," examines that time-honored show biz phenomenon: movers and shakers who start out in the mailrooms of studios and agencies. Most fabled is the mailroom in the Beverly Hills office of the William Morris talent and literary agency. Alumni include William Morris Chairman Norman Brokaw; DreamWorks SKG co-founder David Geffen; talent manager-producer Bernie Brillstein; and, for a brief time, Helen Gurley Brown, former editor of Cosmopolitan magazine. These days, the mailroom is even part of the agency's agent-trainee program, which gives selected applicants a rarefied six to eight months of mail sorting before moving on to bigger responsibilties. We asked if the job delivers.

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Todd Weinstein

28, Agent-Trainee

Westwood

Hometown:

Baltimore.

Education:

Law degree.

Is this your Hollywood entree?

I left after a year with a great L.A. law firm. I was disillusioned.

Can sorting mail really make

you a Spielberg?

Contracts, hate mail, wannabe stars--it all comes through you.

Best celebrity sighting?

Michael Douglas. It was the Gordon Gecko effect from "Wall Street."

Your plan for conquering Hollywood?

Meet everybody.

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Julissa Garcia

28, Agent

Marina del Rey

Hometown:

Miami.

Education:

Bachelor's in nursing.

How long in the mailroom?

Seven weeks in 1998.

Can sorting mail really make

you a Spielberg?

Yes. Sorting mail is a steppingstone. It's not permanent.

Your dream job?

To continue [as] an agent for 10 to 20 years. In 30 years I'd like to be a housewife.

Your dream project?

I'd love to produce a film about the Cuban exiles. They made amazing breakthroughs.

Best celebrity sightings?

Anjelica Huston, Kevin Spacey, John Malkovich and Andy Garcia, whom I am not related to.

Most important thing you've learned working here?

Maintain your integrity. Never lose your identity. Class is something you have and can't acquire.

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Ricardo Palacio

33, Assistant Mailroom Supervisor

Los Angeles

Hometown:

Bogota, Colombia.

Education:

Bachelor's degree in cinema.

How long in the mailroom?

It will be 10 years in June.

Is this your Hollywood entree?

I'm a screenwriter. Instead of waiting tables, I work here.

Can sorting mail really make

you a Spielberg?

No. You either bring that talent or you don't.

Best celebrity sighting?

Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola.

Worst aspect of your job?

Some people can be phony.

Most important thing you've learned working here?

The business of Hollywood and the art and craft of film making are two different things.

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Chan Phung

22, Agent-Trainee

Los Angeles

Hometown:

West Covina.

Education:

Bachelor's in cinema-television and French.

How long in the mailroom?

Six months. I distribute scripts

from the script library.

Your dream project?

More films with Asian people who aren't karate-chopping.

What celebrity sightings have left you star-struck?

Cary Elwes. When "The Princess Bride" came out, I was 7, and I figured out how old he'd be

when I was 18.

Your role model?

My parents. They came here from Vietnam but are Chinese.

If I complain, my father says, "At least you don't have to cross the ocean in a boat!"

Most important thing you've learned working here?

Be nice to everybody. Be discreet.

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