With precious few deals to make, phone calls from needy clients to dodge, and script coverage to pretend to have read during the strike, the industry's idling agents have been spending their sudden surfeit of free time congregating inside Facebook's virtual Mr. Chow dining room, giddily partaking of all the cutting-edge networking and sheep-tossing features they were once far too busy to enjoy. This week's NY Observer examines this phenomenon, even getting several reps on the record about how they use their favorite new toy:
"Every major studio, basically every major development executive, and I'm talking to the president level, is on Facebook," said Dan Erlij of UTA. "I just added a president as a 'friend' yesterday."
"I was on the phone today with an executive," said Amy Retzinger of the Gersh Agency. "I said to her, 'Hey, have you looked at the material I sent you yet, and she's like, 'No but I've been playing a lot of Scrabulous!' And she's somebody that I didn't have a particularly good relationship with, so I thought it was very funny that we wound up talking about Facebook for 15 minutes and became friends on Facebook."
Ms Retzinger said she has consciously not befriended any of her clients on Facebook, but has roughly 30 executive "friends."
She added that she's aware that other agents have been using the site to communicate with clients and in some cases search for new ones. "There's one agent in particular over at Endeavor—Ari Greenberg." (Not to be confused with the now-legendary Ari Emanuel, also at Endeavor, who is not—yet?—on the site.) "A writer friend of mine who's not a client of Ari—Ari, like, 'friended' him on Facebook and you know how you can say, 'How do you know this person?' He wrote, like, 'We'll work together soon?' Which is a little funny and presumptuous." [...]
"There's all sorts of immature behavior,"Mr. Erlij said. "People are sending each other 'vampire hugs' or 'zombie hugs,' there's dominos—I'm not going to sit here and say it's purely a business tool. There is a positive business aspect to it but there's also part of it that's just social networking too."
"I'm not a fan of the 'poke,"' remarked Ms. Retzinger, referring to the Facebook term for expressing interest in a potential acquaintance without committing to further contact. "It seems unseemly."
Even after the strike is eventually settled, we imagine that Facebook will have become such an integral part of so many agent's lives that they'll continue to utilize it to streamline their day-to-day dealings. Instead of wasting time on face-to-face negotiations, a savvy Endeavor staffer can simply scrawl a FUCK YOU on an executive's SuperWall in response to an unacceptable proposal; meanwhile, over at CAA, co-workers can further strengthen their intramural relationships by gifting delicious virtual babies each other for jobs well done, then spend the rest of the afternoon distracting members of other agencies with zombie and werewolf attacks while scrolling through their rival's friend networks in search of clients to poach.