If there's anything Hollywood hates, it's paying for stuff it used to get for free. And throughout 2009, CAA has given the industry the biggest FU in entertainment history, charging visitors for parking, all to save just $800,000.
The entertainment industry runs on freebies; gift bags filled with fur-lined DVD players and diamond-studded iPod holders, private jet rides to Cannes, dinners paid for by your agent or producer. If you are anyone in Hollywood, the world lines up to hand over its goods on a platinum platter. And in Hollywood, being handed a check is akin to being served notice that the world is wondering when you are going to remove your stinking carcass from its immaculately scrubbed foyer.
Today, The Wrap reports on the fallout from CAA's ultimate power move. A year ago, the uber-agency decided fatefully to make its guests pay for their own parking, a shot across the bow akin to making visitors sign a declaration that they are nothing, not even insects, before the might talent agency. Apparently, the Wrap has learned, the move saved the agency $800,000 this year in validations.
What are they doing with that $800,000 in blood money? Buying miles of rain forest or opening a new convalescence home for elderly development executives? Perhaps investing in a decent script for client Reese Witherspoon?
No, according to The Wrap, this draconian cutback comes in the face of massive bonuses this year. It seems the agency is planning, more or less, to take Hollywood's parking fees and give them to their agents in the form of one-thousand-dollar bills that they will use to light their illegally imported cigars. (Celebrity clients, The Wrap reasonably speculates, are still validated.)
Parking in Century City, where the agency is located, is indeed about the steepest valet tab on the planet, with a two-hour visit running as high as $34. The piece points out " visitors to CAA — really, I'm not kidding — have taken to parking at the Century City mall." The mall is a full half a block away, caddy corner across the intersection, in Earth distances. In LA distance, however, walking half a block is the equivalent of marching approximately 14 and three-quarters miles anywhere else on the planet, a marathon slog truly beneath the dignity of visitors to the most powerful agency in the world.
However, for the masters of CAA, who can stand, cigar in hand, currency smoldering in the ashtray and stare out the window watching their non-celebrity clients trudge foot after desperate foot down the block, waiting in anguish for the crosswalk light to change — for those with that privileged view, all must seem very right with the world indeed.