Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Mailroom: Hollywood History from the Bottom Up” as Want to Read:
The Mailroom: Hollywood History from the Bottom Up
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Mailroom: Hollywood History from the Bottom Up

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  408 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
It’s like a plot from a Hollywood potboiler: start out in the mailroom, end up a mogul. But for many, it happens to be true. Some of the biggest names in entertainment—including David Geffen, Barry Diller, and Michael Ovitz— started their dazzling careers in the lowly mailroom. Based on more than two hundred interviews, David Rensin unfolds the never-before-told history of ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published February 3rd 2004 by Ballantine Books (first published 2003)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Mailroom, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Mailroom

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Sergio GRANDE films
Nov 15, 2012 Sergio GRANDE films rated it liked it
Do not be too quick to turn over to the first page. You'll be missing the cover which is probably the most interesting part of this book. The rest is slow and often boring.
Nobody cares about the recollections of a guy who was a mid-level agent at William Morris in the '70s and left to become a literary agent elsewhere. And there's too many of those stories.
Mar 03, 2008 mikeramirez03 rated it it was amazing
This book was my bible while I was working in the Mailroom at UTA.
Oct 10, 2012 Chris rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone wanting to be an Agent, Understand Hollywood Culture
This book is the epitome of what Hollywood work life is all about. It's about guts, risk-taking, and in-your-face action. The Mailroom is about all those who went through the trainee programs at the top talent agencies in America. The joke about the trainee program is that people have passed up going to Harvard, Ivy Leagues or Law/MBA school just to be in the program. Most people who don't know anything about the industry would say that that is the stupidest thing a person can do, but then again ...more
Aug 19, 2014 Alex rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book on a trip down the rabbit hole that began with Jerry Weintraub's memoir. Since then, I've been fascinated with Hollywood history, and with the mailroom being the base of it all, it only made sense to read about the history from its origin. Although this book is a long one, and it took me FOREVER to finish, it's super interested and filled with insight and lessons.
Stephen- Craig
Jan 26, 2014 Stephen- Craig rated it it was amazing
At age 20, having failed out of school, I tore out the pages designated "Music Publishers" from the Yellow Pages book in the phone booth at the corner of Sunset and Doheny and ended up in the mailroom at Warner Bros. Music for less than "minimum wage"! Because of my tenacity, in six months got on the Professional Staff (song pluggers), and in three years became the general manager, for the next 9+ years....Opening up my world to the fantasy of meeting and working with every major recording artis ...more
Jun 01, 2011 Allison rated it really liked it
Shelves: non
Very inspirational book with a lot of fantastic stories. Many were funny, some were intimidating, and some were a little scary - can people really be so vicious and hold grudges? But it was a great glimpse into how hard the truly-driven people work to get to the top, and it affected me greatly.

There were many memorable stories, but my favorite quote came from Sam Haskell: "I believe, philosophywise, in the following: We spend the first couple of decades of our lives trying to figure out who the
Feb 24, 2012 Rebecca rated it liked it
Shelves: tv
This book was a tomb. It detailed the history of the mailroom program that most Hollywood agencies use today in filling employment opportunities as agents, etc. It was told in first person and quite interesting. Even though I work in "the industry" I don't know much about this program as I don't know much about that side. I do behind the scenes stuff, but more on the actual film side and not on the actor side. It was interesting to see all the changes in people, how it changed from a person on t ...more
Aimee Von arx
Jul 09, 2015 Aimee Von arx rated it really liked it
Really fun. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about how the industry works because the book gives insight about the beginning of entertainment from the point of view of people such as Lou Weiss, David Geffen, Bernie Brillstein etc. with very identifiable, personable, real-life tales. It's fun for anyone. You can skim through it too because it gets kind of redundant. There are some "gold" stories in this book.
Mar 20, 2013 Natasha874 rated it liked it
Since I work in a talent agency here in NYC, I just had to read this book. It is the perfect book to read if you are in the entertainment industry or trying to get into. Its choke full of interviews of current and past employee's experience of working at William Morris Agency. You can basically open up the book anywhere and start reading. Some of the stories are laugh out loud funny. Definitely recommend!
Apr 20, 2007 Joanna added it
Recommends it for: Bottom Feeders
Anecdotes are amusing if not all too believable (e.g. someone gets hired for being a non-Jew since all the Jews in the mailroom are out for the holidays). Entertaining read for those who enjoyed the film "The Devil Wear's Prada" and/or those who have worked at the bottom of the food chain in Corporate America. It's fun to be a slave to the powerful and be hazed by bottom feeders a la Greek system.
Marcus Gorman
Mar 18, 2012 Marcus Gorman rated it liked it
Repetitive, self-serving, and not nearly as fascinating as the interviewed agents think their stories are. I'm not sure why I'm surprised.

Edit: I picked this up again and read the second half, and am promoting my ratings from 2 to 3 stars. Once the self-congratulation parade ends, it becomes a much better and funnier book about the horrors hoisted upon the members of the mailroom. But it's still very repetitive.
Aug 29, 2016 Nate rated it really liked it
A nice little anthropology of stories from the time people spent in the mailroom at all different agencies in all different decades. Paints kind of a somber view of the industry in terms of the rampant sexism, and at times feels like an episode of Mad Men. People really lie, cheat and steal their way to the top. Incredible. Could never get away with half this stuff today.
Kara Martin
Jan 21, 2010 Kara Martin rated it liked it
Really interesting - hard to keep up though -
I gained an understanding of the entertainment industry and reasons why 'Left Coast' people are so different from us.
People in LA would recognize the names more than I but overall a good book to digest for anyone who even remotely deals with movies and entertainment.
Leanne Dufault
Aug 17, 2010 Leanne Dufault rated it it was amazing
This book gives you a complete insight to what you are getting yourself into if you decide to work in the entertainment industry in Hollywood. It's hard to believe some of these things really happen. Overall, I really enjoyed it.
Isaiah Lauwerys
Jul 31, 2013 Isaiah Lauwerys rated it liked it
A lot of motivating anecdotes and ridiculous stories to show how entertaining the rise from the bottom can be in Tinseltown, but the organization of the book and structure of the stories could leave you lost if you didn't have a notepad next to you to keep track.
Francesca Strack
This read like a text book, and although it was a little tough to get through, I felt that it was very interesting and inspiring. This book should be required reading for anyone interested in or already involved with the entertainment industry.
Feb 09, 2010 Linda rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Very engaging and eye-opening look at Hollywood structure and history.
Glenn Harris
Dec 05, 2012 Glenn Harris rated it liked it
An odd book. Essentially no original writing, just transcripts of reminiscences from some of the most unpleasant people you could ever hope to meet. Entertaining, in its way.
Aug 08, 2011 Eric added it
too funny!
Sep 19, 2010 Vbailey rated it liked it
Liked oral history format but slow.
Koji Gritton
Jan 17, 2014 Koji Gritton rated it it was amazing
You don't need to be a mark for Hollywood history to have a good time with this book! Equal amounts of laugh out loud and cringe moments, topped off with motivating anecdotes.
Sep 19, 2010 Vanessa rated it liked it
Liked oral history format but slow moving.
Tommy Lynch
Mar 18, 2013 Tommy Lynch rated it it was ok
Mark Heiliger
My god, these people... It's just a JOB. I should have read this book before even moving to L.A.
Gregory Paige
Gregory Paige rated it really liked it
Aug 02, 2014
The Reading
The Reading rated it really liked it
Aug 28, 2013
Patrick Iwanicki
Patrick Iwanicki rated it liked it
Jun 27, 2010
JC Martinez
JC Martinez rated it it was amazing
Oct 02, 2016
Ember rated it it was amazing
Oct 27, 2009
Adam Himes
Adam Himes rated it it was amazing
Feb 02, 2017
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Hello, He Lied and Other Tales from the Hollywood Trenches
  • The Kid Stays in the Picture
  • You'll Never Eat Lunch in this Town Again
  • An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood
  • High Concept: Don Simpson and the Hollywood Culture of Excess
  • What They Don't Teach You at Film School: 161 Strategies For Making Your Own Movies No Matter What
  • The Genius of the System: Hollywood Filmmaking in the Studio Era
  • Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film
  • Moviemakers' Master Class
  • Rebels on the Backlot: Six Maverick Directors and How They Conquered the Hollywood Studio System
  • So You Want to Be a Producer
  • From Reel to Deal: Everything You Need to Create a Successful Independent Film
  • Hit and Run
  • The Big Picture: Money and Power in Hollywood
  • The Men Who Would Be King: An Almost Epic Tale of Moguls, Movies, and a Company Called DreamWorks
  • Shooting to Kill
  • Thinking In Pictures: The Making Of The Movie Matewan
  • The TV Writer's Workbook: A Creative Approach To Television Scripts
David Rensin has written and cowritten sixteen books, five of them New York Times bestsellers.

The latest is DON'T GIVE UP, DON'T GIVE IN: Lessons from an Extraordinary Life --coauthored with the late Louis Zamperini, hero of UNBROKEN (book and film). Published 11/18/2014

Previously I helped write HOPE CONQUERS ALL, stories from the CaringBridge website.

Before that, I coauthored with Dr. Brandy Eng
More about David Rensin...

Share This Book