Next Generation: The night shift

Next Gen'ers have found new methods in card calling on the town.

Even for those members of the Next Gen crowd who thrive in the nightlife setting, there is still more to Hollywood networking than attending the right parties or lavish premieres.

Some take advantage of the wealth of contacts offered by the Hollywood scene and invest in the most sought-after tables in town. Entertainment and the food industry "go hand-in-hand in that there is a strong emphasis on glamour and excitement," says Lonnie Moore, co-owner of the Dolce Group, an umbrella of Los Angeles-area establishments that includes Dolce Enoteca, Geisha House and Les Deux. Owning part of a buzzworthy restaurant provides the investors with "fringe benefits" such as a guaranteed coveted table and networking opportunities-- "little advantages that help out their relationships with clients and colleagues," says Moore, a former TV executive at one-time UPN.

Moore's investors are "friends and colleagues from relationships made while working in the entertainment industry," including actors, executives and agents such as Endeavor's Richard Weitz and WMA's Aaron Kaplan.

As vp talent and creative development at VH1, Stella Stolper has found her own unique way to "raise the bar and make sure we bring movie stars and A-listers to our channel." Twice a week, she moonlights as a stand-up comedian, performing at the Laugh Factory or the Improv, helping to wrangle new talent for her network.

"Most of the time, I go out there and do a five-minute set, and I'll run into some agent I know, and I'll wind up bringing a piece of business the next day in," Stolper says. "I watched Dane Cook getting hot before sort of everyone saw it."

Stolper had never planned to pursue an after-hours career as an amateur comedian. But three years ago, when she was courting new talent for VH1 at U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colo., the then-very pregnant Stolper found herself seated at the same table as Jamie Masada, owner of the Laugh Factory. She recalls Masada turning to her and saying, "You're funnier than all of the comedians at this table, and I know you're not drunk because you're seven-months pregnant."

He said as soon as she delivered her baby, he wanted her onstage at his club. "I said, 'Jaime, I'm an executive, I'm not going to your club and doing five minutes,'" Stolper says. But Masada wouldn't take no for an answer.

Three days after Stolper delivered her baby, Masada phoned her -- and kept calling every day until she agreed to perform. "I went up and did two minutes, and I was hooked," she says.

Stolper's even managed to parlay her talent into appearances on NBC's reality series "Last Comic Standing."