Celebrities That Enjoy Gambling

The following article was written by Thomas Shannon.

Today we live in a world that some people think is a little too obsessed with celebrity culture, but really we can’t resist them. We tend to be fascinated by their lifestyles and what they get up to when out of the gaze of the public. Ultimately celebrities are just like the rest of us, and often they enjoy doing similar things, so it should come as no surprise that many celebrities enjoy gambling, and some of them are very skilled at it.

Different celebrities enjoy different types of gambling. For instance Goldie Hawn is rather fond of the casino, in particular roulette, and Pamela Anderson can’t get enough of slot machines, but the game that really attracts the serious celebrity gamblers is poker. It isn’t surprising, it is a great game and playing it for serious money is a major adrenaline thrill.

Of course some people become celebrities by dint of their poker playing skills. For instance the Poker World Champion Phil Ivey gained celebrity status entirely through the game, over the last five years he has amassed over $30 million in tournament prizes and online.

Mainly when we think of celebrity gamblers it is people who gained their celebrity status in other ways. Quite a number of Hollywood movie stars are keen gamblers, perhaps because Las Vegas is but a short flight away from the Californian mansions. Of the present crop, some of the most successful poker players are Jennifer Tilly, Shannon Elizabeth and Ben Affleck. Tilly at one time almost gave up acting in order to become a professional poker player, Elizabeth considers poker to be her second career, and Affleck is a Californian State Poker Champion. Perhaps it isn’t surprising that good actors make good poker players, both are to a large extent about creating illusions in other people.

Poker also attracts many celebrity sportspeople. One of them who is particularly well known for his poker exploits is Shane Warne, the Australian spin bowler who in his day was considered to be the best bowler in the world.  He might not be quite as good at poker as he was at spin bowling, but at least he never gives up trying. Try visiting http://www.gamingclub.co.uk for a taste of some of the same games that all the stars enjoy so much.

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Book Review: The Hollywood Assistants Handbook


This was actually the first book I had ever read when preparing for my career search in the talent agent realm.  There were a few reasons for this.  First of all, I knew so much that this was a beginning stage of breaking into the career (if not the mailroom, of course).  Second, it’s an easy read.  A concise 208 pages broken into 86 separate chapters.  I love reading books like that because it’s easy to feel accomplished when you crack away at 5 chapters in a day in your spare time!  Third, it seemed like a good way to get a broad perspective on what it’s all about being an assistant, or the agent itself.  Finally, and most importantly, I found myself in a situation where I could put these rules to use, which made them much easier to comprehend and capitalize upon.

The book is broken into 5 major parts that serve to lead you to situations as they would (supposedly) happen in your actual career.  As we know, nothing is predictable.  I did find some of the lingo to be interesting and good to know, though I’m not sure everything they say is important in the book really is.

A lot of the content itself is nothing shocking, but it does allow you to consider whether this is something you really want to consider as a starting point of a career.  Look, you might not love it, but it’s temporary, as long as you stick to it and give it your all at least.

Mostly, just keep conscious of the lessons and take notes on what you really need to.  That’s subjective to everyone, of course.  For me, I was unfamiliar with some of the terminology used on occasions, so I made a point to note that.  However, I already know how to deal with certain personalities, and I don’t get star-struck, so those sections I breezed by.

If you have the choice, I’d say to start, read The Agency, then The Mailroom, then this one only if you can start to apply the concepts while reading, or shortly after reading this.  It’s an easy and cheap read, so I wouldn’t dismiss it altogether.

E! TV happened to feature the book in a short segment, which you can see here on YouTube.  I must say, it was an awful representation of the book.  The book really is more geared towards being an assistant to an agent rather than directly to celebrities, as this segment seems to be geared towards.  But hey, that’s Hollywood.


Buy it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Hollywood-Assistants-Handbook-Aspiring/dp/0761147462/ref=pd_ys_iyr116

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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Can’t Find Experience? Look Outside the Box…

The Entertainment Industry is notoriously difficult to break into.  There exists a range of reasoning behind this, from geographical limits, to needing to piggyback a relatives success, to the lack of relative experience from other industries, to the cut-throat competition and politics of Hollywood.  It is not impossible, however.

Let’s just say that geographically, you’re limited to your possibilities.  You are not and can not be near Entertainment Industry hubs at this point of your life.

But, let’s think outside the box.

I had a similar issue years back when I wanted to bartend part-time.  I went to one of those “Bartending Schools” that issue you a “Bartending License” (which does not even really exist) and then promise you a great chance of getting that big-money job at the end.  Well, months later I was still jobless.  I attributed this to two things: (A) I didn’t have the physical appearance to land a job with no experience that certain ladies were able to capitalize on, and (B) to become a bartender, I needed to already have the experience being a bartender — so essentially an endless cycle of applying and getting denied (if even a response).  I didn’t think outside the box.

Do you need to be an agent to become an agent?  That can go for any job really.  The answer is, it usually helps, but No.  You CAN mimic the job duties and build you experience in that respect however, which can go a long way.  That does go with almost any job.

Let’s break down some basics to agenting that we can look into:

  1. Representing clients’ best interests
  2. Phone skills
  3. Interpersonal skills
  4. Searching for opportunity
  5. Knowing the industry and job

We can go further from this, but I don’t want to make this too extensive.  Let’s begin:

1) Representing clients’ best interests — This essentially can be relative to many B2C or B2B (Business-to-Consumer/Business) scenario.  Let’s take something very dear to the clients’ happiness, as Agents deal with something very dear to their clients (a.k.a. their career!): Financial Advising.  This is actually a great example for all of these points, but in this respect, the advisor is expected to do his/her best to ensure the financial security and/or success of their client.  Those who look out for the best interests are usually the most successful.  Advisors that only try to sell the products that give highest commission end up with short-lived careers.  A strong track record here can propel you into another job — Agenting?

2) Phone Skills — It’s a proven fact that Agents spend a large amount of their time on the phones (as discussed in my previous article here).  It’s also a proven fact that the up-and-coming generation has significantly lower phone skills.  This is just in our nature with technology today and how we function with it.  That doesn’t mean we can’t work on improving our ability to communicate.  In this state, any job in which you are cold-calling can be great.  Maybe telemarketing isn’t the way to go exactly, but in whatever way you can begin cold-calling with legitimate purpose, that helps.  Having it on your resume shows that you can pick up the phone and call, without fear.  In cold-calling, you have to work very hard to get someone’s attention, and to keep your morale up.  This will make notable improvements on your communication skills.

3) Interpersonal Skills — This is something that can almost be taken into account in any job in which you work as a team with others.  This is less about being job-specific, and more about preparing to answer this question on job interviews.  This most often comes in the sense of “did you ever have a difficult issue with a coworker, or with a customer?”  Answering “No” to this isn’t quite as impressive as having a scenario that occurred in which you were able to defuse a bad situation.  You can definitely fabricate one of these, but for the most part, you’ll have a real scenario hit you at some point.  Let’s just hope you handle it well, and spin it off as you handled it amazingly well.

4) Searching for opportunity — Let’s say for this one, start your own agency (as discussed about small town agents in this previous post).  This is beneficial in two ways: (1) you get hands on experience in the field that you are looking to explore and (2) you are proving yourself to be a self-starter.  Maybe you don’t want to go into the talent agent thing quite yet for whatever reason, having an entrepreneurial spirit and starting you own business is a huge statement.

5) Knowing the industry and job — This is probably the easiest of all.  Here’s what I did: First, I searched job postings for new agents, agent trainees, mailroom candidates, etc and checked the qualifications needed for each.  I tried to find ways to meet these qualifications in the meantime.  However, one job posting asked to make sure you read certain books to know the history (The Agency, The Mailroom, Power to Burn, etc).  So, I went online and bought these books, plus another half-dozen related to the job and industry.  I’ve read at least a half-dozen of these, but that’s not enough.  Remember, most of these books are outdated, especially with how fast the world changes nowadays.  I also subscribed to multiple e-newsletters to stay up to date every day on the current happenings in tinseltown, and internationally.

Remember, as Jim Rohn said, “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.”


I hope this helps.  It’s not supposed to be a how-to-get-there guide, but it should serve to open your eyes in how to view getting there.  If your plan is a straight-path there, you’re going to have plenty of issues along the way!

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Book Review: The Agency by Frank Rose

The Agency

Probably the best book on the subject out there in a historical, informative, and entertaining sense, Frank Rose’s The Agency is top of the list on my bookshelf.

This book brings you back to the beginning of William Morris days, prior to the 1900’s.  It speaks to how the company has stood the test of time, through ups-and-downs, up until more recent time (much prior to the Endeavor takeover though!)

One of the most interesting things I noticed from this book is that this business has been around for such a long time, yet so little information is available about how it has evolved over the years.  From the Vaudeville days, to Radio shows, to the emergence and development of TV and Film, talent agents have been on the trip the whole way.

The book does a great job at focusing on the history of the company and the agents that have built it up over time.  It is not a book about throwing big names around and talking about how the stars made it — it’s about the talent agency as a whole.

“The Agency” takes on a huge endeavor when it looks at the entire career of the William Morris company.  Nevertheless, it is a perfect piece of understanding the foundation of the business.  If I could go back, I would have made this a first read before getting into books that deal with specific agents (Michael Ovitz, Lew Wasserman, etc).

In summary, the book is a great foundation for those who want to know all there is to know about the business.  I found the book through a Job Posting for an agent assistant.  The agency “highly suggested” candidates to read “The Agency” as well as a few other books on the industry.  I am not quite sure if this agency wants you to know the business’ history, or just see if you’ll go out and do your due diligence in reading what they recommend you to, but it worked for me, and I was happy!

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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Start An Agency?…

Interested in being a talent agent but not located in the “right” market for is?  Status quo says being a venerable agent is impossible unless they are in L.A. or New York, or maybe Miami or Nashville.  But even if you happen to be in a small, less-established city, there’s still talent out there.  There’s good news too — there probably isn’t much competition out there!

Starting an agency is a lot easier said than done.  You can map it out relatively quickly, but when it comes time to take action, there are quite a few obstacles lying ahead.  On the plus side, it’s an incredibly low cost operation.  Aside from expenses of cell phone and internet, and a computer, other expenses are merely extra write-offs (lunch meetings and networking events for example).  An office is a nice addition, but it isn’t necessary most often.

The first step? Connections.

This is much easier, and faster, said than done.  Connections are built over a long period of time.  It might be too long, in-fact, mattering on your patience and the competition in your area.  However, manually building connections, one-by-one, might not be your only or best way.  Sure, the point of this is to establish your own business and be your own boss, but partnering with someone else may be a good idea.  I’m not saying to just partner so you have a second person to schmooze around the community, but so you have someone backing you that already has established connections.

Partners don’t have to be others interested in being agents or running an agency.  If you still plan to be the sole-proprietor of the talent agency you’re building, find someone in a related and/or supporting industry.  The best example I can give for this is an acting school.  This provides you with multiple benefits.  Just do your best to avoid building a stigma of being a scam by “requiring” your talent to go to that school to take classes.

a. Financial
You’re going to need to have your clients improve their performance, and a quality acting class can do this.  Why not earn some extra money through having them take that course?  But again, that can be a conflict of interest and lead to a bad reputation.  Alternatively, at least identify a strong acting school to partner with so you know your clients are being best educated.  It’s also important to note that it can’t only benefit you.  The acting school won’t gain anything financial directly from your work as an agent.  However, aside from gaining fame from educating that rising star you discovered early on, the acting school will have a salesman to bring in new individuals and repeat clients of their own!

b. Networking
You can assist the acting school in becoming more valuable to people taking classes there by providing better access to an agent that will find work for these students.  This makes the school more valuable to potential clients.  However, students aren’t the only important aspect of a school.  They do need to market themselves.  A big part of this in smaller communities (as we said we were looking at previously here) is word-of-mouth.  When you’re out there selling the acting school and letting others know where you had your actors taught, you’re building their value.

c. Validity
The acting school becomes a more valid choice through your ability of getting them work.  However, another huge benefit for you is the established business/persons’ reputation gives you backing that you would not otherwise have.  Reputation and awareness is very important in being taken seriously, and getting the elusive call-back.  The addition of a possible free office in their established business is a nice benefit as well.  While not entirely necessary, especially earlier on, an office can certainly build your image to others.

Acting schools aren’t your only option of course, just an easy example.  In reality, anything that you can identify and make work for both parties should be considered.  Think, how can you build your agency in a way that aligns with their company mission, while simultaneously creating them value (hopefully financial, but if not, in another manner like validity, marketing, indirect sales, etc).

Be prepared. Do your research. Know the potential partner inside and out.  What they are doing now, what they have done, what their mission is. Finally, be ready for any and all of their questions, and to let them know how you will benefit them.

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Entertainment Intern Woes

I suppose at this point we can confidently say this goes far beyond just the entertainment industry, however, all the lawsuits seem to be centered upon it.  Unpaid internships.  It seemed like the norm, but continuing the status quo isn’t always the right way to go.  I’m not looking to state an opinion either way, but here’s the situation…

First off, what is an “intern” really?  This question tends to be what these cases revolve around.  There must be an explicit distinction between an employee and an intern.  However, this distinction never seemed quite so vital prior to these hearings.

Per the recent hearings, an intern cannot be someone who merely answers phones, runs faxes, filing papers, and running errands for employees.  While this has been the staple of an internship, the way to get a foot in the door, the inundation of cases regarding internships might change this.

So what is needed? Minimum wage? College-credit?  Well, those help, and those can be more protection, but it still is unclear exactly what keeps a company safe.  One major point is to provide education for the interns — even like a formal learning engagement.  This still raises the question as to what extent keeps an employer safe?  Is a one day “class” enough for a years worth of work, or will there need to be weekly lessons given?

This goes beyond the entertainment industry of course — so what will this do to the working environment?  People often complain about the lack of jobs in today’s workplace.  Now if companies have to pay interns for work while also establishing ways for the interns to benefit in an educational manner, the number of internships throughout the United States will sharply drop.  Being paid or not for internships can most definitely have an effect on being able to pursue an internship, but it is often a way to open the door.

What happened to “paying ones dues”, and what should one’s dues be?  Traditionally, this was the norm and expected of many, especially in the Entertainment world.  Many saw it as the only way to get relevant experiences that would one day open the door for the job of their dreams, or at least a step closer to that.  You can see how this vastly changes the workforce and structure of many corporations throughout the nation.

In closing, one more question.  For these individuals that sued these major Entertainment corporations like Fox — Tinseltown is a small community in reality, and I’m not sure suing an industry leader is something you want on your resume, but now everyone knows!

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Remove the Phrase “I Can’t” from Memory

If there’s one thing I learned in my experiences working in entertainment, as much as something seems impossible, do NOT say you can’t accomplish it.  Can’t translates to Won’t, which translates to Next Assistant?

Countless stories exist of completely absurd requests (or commands) given to assistants by Hollywood Power Players.  Unfortunately, it is an evil of the business you need to face and conquer.  While it seems unreasonable, it is your superior, who is (hopefully) also your mentor that is asking for this.  You probably feel like you have to oblige to such a request to continue your steps up the ladder, and you may be right.  Either way, treat it as a new experience.

Although, there is a story I read originally in The Mailroom (David Rensin).  Two young men in the Mailroom trying to scratch his way to the top of the business had a delivery to make per dispatch.  It came in a plain white paper bag, similar to what you would get at a pharmacy.  They didn’t know what was inside, and let it be as such.  At some point on their run, they decided to take a peak at what they were delivering.  A urine sample would be almost expected; however, that wasn’t it.  Instead, a stool sample.  Reportedly, disgusted and enraged, the young man brought the package back to the agent’s desk, placed it down, and stated, “I’ll eat shit, but I won’t deliver it.

Now, that’s supposed to serve as a fun example, rather than scare you.  Further, hopefully it paints a picture (not too much) that there are absurd requests.  You can choose where to draw the line exactly.  But do expect to run errands, do your boss’ shopping, and be their personal concierge.

In the long run, you’re going to have to learn how to do the impossible possible, so start now.  Don’t let the higher ups think you aren’t capable.  Make phone calls, get favors fulfilled, and learn how to get things done.  Agents tend to make the impossible possible, so here’s an early indicator to your potential!

And hey, you might fail.  But many successful leaders will admit you can learn a great deal from a failure, just don’t repeat them!

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The Casting Director, the Agent and their Clients

I think it is worth elaborating upon how the casting directors interact with the agents, and how each of their clients are involved in the equation.  Casting directors work very closely with agents, and they work as a buffer for each person’s best interests.  To elaborate…

You know what the agent is by now.  The agent is the voice for the talent, so they have someone else to speak praises for their abilities.  They fight for the next gig for their client, the talent.  In short, that’s a decent summary…

Now the casting director also represents a client.  However, the casting director does not represent talent, but the person hiring for the job.  This may be for a film, but in respect of the modeling industry, it can be different companies looking to run a new ad campaign.  Your common manufacturer certainly does not want to go through the trouble of contacting agents, setting up auditions, and choosing talent to work with them.  For that reason, we have casting directors.

Now it is worth noting further the balance this creates.  The agent speaks on behalf of the talent, so they are biased for the talent’s best interests.  If a company or film production contacted the agent for casting, they would fill the bill with their clients, obviously!  Now the casting director is hired by the film production or company, so their best interests are taken into account.  To meet their best interests, the casting director must find the best talent for the project, regardless of who’s representing them.  It’s pretty simple now, right?  I just find it worthy of noting, to make these branches of relationships and their reasonings salient.

Think of it like…the different branches of the American Government.  Checks and Balances.. but for the Entertainment industry.

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Changes in Representation: Week Ending May 31


APA: Actor and comedian Will Sasso is now repped by Bradie SteinlaufBarry McPhersonMax Burgos and Paul Santana. Sasso is probably best known for his five seasons as a cast member onMADtv.  He most recently starred as Curly in the Farrelly brothers reboot of The Three Stooges. Among his film and television roles, Sasso has appeared on the television series $h*! My Dad Saysand the feature film Southland Tales.

CAA: Actor Matthew Fox is now repped by Darren StattMichael Cooper and Larry Galper. Fox is best known for his starring role as Jack Shephard on the television series Lost, as well as the role of Charlie Salinger on Party of Five.


Visit Studio System News for more here:  http://www.studiosystemnews.com/rep-moves-apagershbenderspink-icm/

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Changes in Representation: Week Ending May 24


APA: Producer George M. Kostuch is now repped by Chris Ridenhour. Kostuch is the principal of K2 Pictures & K2D. His producing credits include Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island and The Abduction of Jesse Bookman.

CAA: Journalist and author Maria Bartiromo is now repped by Olivia MetzgerRichard Lovett,Andy Elkin and Lauren Hale. Bartiromo is currently the anchor of Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo.She’s also the host of On the Money with Maria Bartiromo.  She has been on-air with CNBC since 1993.

CAA: Actor Joel Kinnaman is now repped by Kevin HuvaneDave BugliariAlex MebedMaha Dakhil and Jimmy Darmody.


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