The Secrets of Hollywood Agency Mailrooms
UPDATED: With alumni ranging from David Geffen to Disney's Rich Ross, mailroom jobs at Los Angeles' most prestigious agencies provide aspiring moguls with a crash course in showbiz and the possibility of a future beyond cart pushing and coffee fetching.
From left: Michael Masukawa, Allie Berkowitz, Kaitlyn Olson, Jake Merten, Kira Marx.
At International Creative Management, ambitious young wannabes must earn their way into the mailroom. New recruits at the Century City-based agency -- which dates to the 1975 merger of Creative Management Associates and International Famous Agency but received a shot in the arm with the 2006 acquisition of Broder Webb Chervin Silbermann -- typically push a mail cart for two to three months. Mailroom workers can be promoted to full-fledged assistants, and another year or so of rolling calls allows them to apply and interview with nine or 10 of the firm's 140 agents for a spot in the official trainee program run by vice chairman Robert Broder. "We probably get 200 to 250 pieces of mail a day … a lot of kids wanting autographs," says Danny Wantland, who has run the ICM mailroom for nearly 19 years. "It started as a temp job."
In the Mailroom
Kira Marx, 22
The Syracuse grad has been sorting Eminem and Megan Fox fan mail: "It's so funny to read these poor little kids writing 'Dear Mr. Marshall Mathers' or 'Dear Mrs. Megan Fox.' "
Michael Masukawa, 22
The UCLA grad landed in the ICM mailroom in August. A highlight so far: attending an AFI screenwriting showcase that allowed him to hear 10-minute pitches from hot screenwriters and follow up with those he liked. "Before that, I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to do, but after being there I know I want to be an agent," he says. "I loved the pursuit."
Carter Cohn, Talent Agent
"One of the great joys of my mailroom experience was the 'Wiatt Car Run.' When [agency chief] Jim Wiatt didn't need his car for the evening, we would take it to be gassed up and washed. It was a convertible Porsche. We'd put the top down and really open it up on the 10 Freeway."
Doug MacLaren, Motion Picture Lit Agent
"At the end of my first Friday, I came back from delivering packages to find one last envelope for Charlie Sheen's house -- way out in the boondocks. I didn't get there until close to midnight, and the place looked deserted, so I threw the package over the gate and left. Six months later, I found out the package was from one of the assistants, who had written on the buckslip: 'Hey Charlie, we're just f--ing with the new guy in the mailroom.' "