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Secret Agent Man

Is Your Agent the Devil?

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Is Your Agent the Devil?
Photo Source: Pete McDonnell

Please allow me to introduce myself. I’m a man of wealth and taste. I’ve been around a long, long time and I’ve stolen many an actor’s soul to waste.

Are you pleased to meet me? Did you guess my name?

Just as every cop is a criminal and every sinner a saint, I, too, have drifted between right and wrong. Some of you are puzzled by the nature of my game but I assure you—my actions are without malice. I’m just a good man trying to survive in a bad business, and as such I deserve your sympathy and respect.

Please allow me to defend myself. Recently we had a drop meeting at my office. This happens twice a year; once after pilot season and again in the fall. Agents are constantly signing actors, so we have to be careful about the size of our list. If the roster gets too large it’s hard for us to be effective. The quality of representation goes down. So the old is tossed out to make room for the new. I call it the circle of life.

During the meeting I realized we had too many white women in the “40s” category. That meant one of them had to go. The first was on a series so she was safe. The other two, Carrie and Jennifer, were a close call. Their bookings were just about the same but there was one major difference between them: I was Carrie’s point person. That means I’m the one who signed her. She was on the list because of me.

So I told my associates that Carrie should stay and Jennifer should go. I explained that Jennifer was always late for auditions and always forgot to book out. In my world, these are mortal sins. So everyone nodded and agreed. Jennifer was dropped.

Here’s the thing. I lied. Jennifer was never late for auditions and she was always good about booking out. But sadly, she was in my way. Keeping her on the list meant my client would have to go and I wasn’t about to let that happen.

After the meeting I made sure the other agents washed their hands and sealed her fate.

Are you crying out in disdain? Do my actions bring you to tears? Yes, I chose to harm an innocent, but my intention was without spite. Carrie is a talented actor. I’ve put a lot of time into her career. And I’m not about to let another company profit from my hard work. Sometimes an agent has to make a deliberate sacrifice for a definite gain. That’s just the way the industry works.

I once had an assistant take the fall for my mistake. It made more sense for him to get fired than me. Assistants can be replaced.

I’ve also poisoned clients against their managers. None of those actors suffered for my scheming. They all ended up in a better place with a brighter future.

I often lie about my clients’ quotes. Those actors end up making more money thanks to my actions. And it’s not like the extra cash comes out of the casting director’s pocket.

Now tell me. Am I saint or sinner? Guilty or innocent? In this business, the answers to those questions are never clear.

So if you meet me at a workshop or in my office, have some courtesy, some sympathy, and some taste. Use all your well-learned politesse or I’ll lay your soul to waste.

Pleased to meet you. Hope you guess my name.

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