Hollywood Problems: What Do I Say When I Run Into Someone Who Just Got Fired?

"You never want to shun. Bad news travels quickly in this town, and you can't hide the obvious," says Beverly Hills Manners CEO Lisa Gache.

Someone you know has been very publicly dismissed, and the next day you run into them at the Soho House valet. Fight the all-too-human aversion to awkwardness and don't try to avoid the elephant in the room, says Lisa Gache, CEO of Beverly Hills Manners. "You never want to shun. Bad news travels quickly in this town, and you can't hide the obvious."

She also cautions against using the F-word ("I heard you're no longer at such-and-such company" is gentler) and says do offer to listen. Producer Michael De Luca, who served executive stints at Sony and New Line, agrees: "Having been both a firer and a firee, I try to approach that situation with tremendous kindness and empathy. Just go into full human contact mode and offer to take the person out for dinner."

Taking the initiative to reach out is meaningful. "Steve Mosko and I did business for 25 years, so when he left Sony [in June] I wrote him a note and told him I'm here for him," says recently retired WME partner Mark Itkin. Itkin also advises following up after three or four weeks to offer help with next steps. After all, says Gache, "people in this town tend to fail upward."

Although Gache warns against bad-mouthing ex-employers, producer Lawrence Gordon (who spent two years as 20th Century Fox president) has no such reservations. "I always say: 'Congratulations, you lucky bastard, you went over the wall.' " 

This story first appeared in the Oct. 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.