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.
THE GREATEST MAILROOM STORY EVER: For his 2003 book The Mailroom, author David Rensin solicited tales from dozens of Hollywood heavyweights who started their careers in agency mailrooms. The following story from Jack Rapke -- who served in the William Morris mailroom in 1975 before becoming a top CAA agent and partnering with filmmaker Robert Zemeckis -- has been told in many ways, and it's THR's favorite.
There was this older agent, in his mid-60s at the time, who covered CBS. They called him the Silver Fox. His secretary was Michelle Triola Marvin, who was famous for the Lee Marvin palimony suit. She used to push us around: "He has a run. Come and get it immediately." Not once or twice, but 10 times a day: "He has a run." She used to beat the shit out of us. We were like, "F-- her. F-- him."
Dennis Brody was head of Dispatch. The town was divided into three runs: Hollywood, the Valley and Beverly Hills. We were all out of the mailroom and in Dispatch -- me, Lezman, Randall, Bruce Pfeiffer, Somers -- and we got a call from Michelle Marvin: "I have an immediate package that has to go immediately, first stop." Where's it going? Century City, so it's the Beverly Hills run. Who's on the Beverly Hills run? Gary Randall and Bruce Pfeiffer. Gary Randall was driving. Bruce ran the packages.
They went down to the guy's office. The rest of us went outside, on a break, to the catering truck. We were hanging around the roach coach when Pfeiffer came out carrying a white paper bag like you'd get at a pharmacy. The dispatch slip read CENTURY CITY HOSPITAL. Bruce carried the bag at arm's length. He didn't know what was in it, and he didn't want to know. He got in the car with Gary and put the bag on the floor between his feet.
Gary and Bruce left the lot and turned up Charleville, heading east, then to Olympic and the hospital. But before they arrived, curiosity finally got the better of them. They had to stop and check out what they were carrying. They figured it was a urine sample.
It was a stool sample.
Excerpt from The Mailroom: Hollywood History From the Bottom Up by David Rensin (Ballantine, 2003), reprinted with permission of the author.